crime

Japanese man rides 1,000 kilometers on stolen 'mamachari' bicycle to see Tokyo for first time

52 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

Tokyo is a bustling metropolis known for its famous sites, hip fashion, and stores and cafes you won’t find anywhere else in the country. The bright lights of the capital draw tourists not just from overseas, but from locales around Japan as well, and while most travellers use conventional means of transport to get here, some standout efforts to visit Tokyo make the national news.

This week, the news put the spotlight on a man from Kagoshima on the island of Kyushu, who was arrested by police in Tokyo’s neighbouring Kanagawa Prefecture on Aug 10, after trying to make it to Tokyo on a stolen mamachari bicycle.

Mamachari, which takes its name from “mama chariot“, are everyday bicycles used by school students and mothers running errands, and are easily identified by their front baskets, large wheels and upright seating style.

These bicycles aren’t commonly used for speed nor long journeys, so police were surprised to find that the man they’d arrested had travelled over 1,000 kilometers from Kumamoto Prefecture on the mamachari before he was apprehended in the resort town of Hakone in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Upon questioning, the man said he had stolen the bicycle, valued at around 10,000 yen, from the garage of a 25-year-old agricultural trainee in Tamana City, Kumamoto Prefecture, on May 24. Initially, he had set out on foot from Kagoshima Prefecture but resorted to stealing the bicycle after walking became difficult.

Asked why he was travelling to Tokyo, the man said “I’m from a remote island and had never been to Tokyo, so I wanted to see it.”

The unemployed 53-year-old with no fixed address probably would’ve made it to Tokyo, had it not been for the fact that police thought he looked suspicious when they spotted him pushing the mamachari up a slope with an umbrella hooked onto the bike, which they thought was odd for a sunny day with temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius.

The man admitted to stealing the bicycle after he was stopped for questioning, and he was taken to Odawara Police Station, roughly 87 kilometers south of Tokyo.

It’s estimated that if the man used the Kanmon Pedestrian Tunnel that runs beneath the Kanmon Straits separating Kyushu from the mainland, he would’ve travelled approximately 1,065 kilometers on the mamachari before he was apprehended in Kanagawa Prefecture.

The journey from Tanami City to Hakone took him 78 days, just a day over 11 weeks, and although he committed a crime, his plight to see Tokyo touched people around Japan.

“He said he just wanted to see Tokyo — this makes me cry!”

“It’s such a youthful goal, to want to head out to Tokyo on a mamachari.”

“I want to know this man’s backstory.”

“They need to make a movie out of this!”

“He had such a short distance to go…”

“I wish they could let him off so he can fulfil his dream of seeing Tokyo.”

Source: Kanaloco via Jin 

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Man gives up on life and travels 1,000 miles on stolen bikes, incredible journey ends with his arrest

-- Japan by motorbike! Japanese biker captures his incredible round-Japan road trip on camera 【Vid】

-- Japanese man travels 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Tokyo to Hakone on stilts

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

52 Comments
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Wrong Oona. Mama chari is short for mama charinko not chariot.

29 ( +29 / -0 )

So he is under arrest, now what? Is he out on bail, released on a charge or without a charge? Being held in detention? Are formal charges planned? Will a court date be set? Or what?

Since stealing a bike worth a few thousand yen isn't a big deal, the treatment he receives by Japan's criminal justice system is the other part of the story.

10 ( +17 / -7 )

This ruthless criminal should be behind bars. The public is not safe with him on the loose

17 ( +22 / -5 )

Shall we all agree that he'll steal another bike to get home?

18 ( +18 / -0 )

“I wish they could let him off so he can fulfil his dream of seeing Tokyo.”

Please give him a tour of Tokyo. He can get charged after.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

Poor guy. 10,000 yen is cheap for a bike. I'll buy him one.

25 ( +25 / -0 )

I’m confused! What is the news? The fact he stole a bicycle or that he road it a thousand K’s?

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Japanese cops love to stop people on bicycles-I’ll make sure never to carry an umbrella Ella with me on a sunny day now....

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Epic.

I hope some shark doesn't buy the film rights for the price of that bike.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

stolen the bicycle, valued at around 10,000 yen, from the garage of a 25-year-old agricultural trainee in Tamana City, Kumamoto Prefecture, on May 24.

He stole that from a trainee, which probably is a foreigner. In the news only when foreigner becoming a criminal is really written but when foreigner become a victim that's not clearly written.

he looked suspicious when they spotted him pushing the mamachari up a slope with an umbrella hooked onto the bike, which they thought was odd for a sunny day with temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius.

It's humid summer even a nice sunny 35 degree felt really hot, when you use sloppy road. So that suspicious?

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

From Kagoshima to Hakone, so close to Tokyo but so far away...

Who doesn't feel sorry for this poor guy?

17 ( +18 / -1 )

He should promise to give it back, give it to the owner with an I'm sorry, an explanation of why he 'borrowed' the chari & with a tale of his adventures. He'd be the owner of a bike that made the news.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

78days? I am impress. How did he survive? What about food?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Feels good crime !!! Hope he visits Tokyo ...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

He should buy his victim twice as nice a bike as he stole from him, or work for him long enough to pay that amount. I really don’t care why he did it. We don’t need more thieves in the world.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Someone should crowdfund him bail, a trip to Tokyo, a ticket home and his victim a new bike.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Yes crowdfunding, I would have willing contributed, flight, hotel, spending money.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Was this an e-bike? When I think Mamachari I think of an electric bike.

There is so much more to this story. Where did he stay? How did ride that far, seeing as he didn’t even have his own bike?

if it was electric, how did it only cost 10,000 yen?

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

Pretty slow pace.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

He must be in good shape. Any flats along the way?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

When I think Mamachari I think of an electric bike.

Mamachari starts as a bog standard, no gears, basket on front, rack on back bike.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

An inspirational story.

Politicians and big business steal, pollute and destroy ... this guy's "crime" is so minor.

Hope he walks away a free man.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Who doesn't feel sorry for this poor guy?

(Cleo raises hand)

He’s a thief.

He stole a cheap bike off someone who possibly needed it to get to work (I don’t imagine agricultural trainees are awash with money) to go on what was basically a pleasure jaunt.

Who cares that it took him 11 weeks and he covered a thousand kilometres. He could have spent that time looking for a job, earned enough to buy his own bike or even a train ticket, and travelled to the armpit of Japan without inconveniencing anyone else.

Give him 11 weeks of community service and make sure he apologises to the agricultural trainee and buys him a new bike.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

unemployed 53-year-old with no fixed address is the kind of guy who knows how to enjoy a long bicycle ride.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

(Cleo raises hand)

Let's see. He's 53 years old. He's unemployed. He has no fixed address. He has no money. He's never seen the magical city of Tokyo, so he sets off to walk there. From southern Kyushu. He doesn't get far. He steals a bike. Not a car, not a motorbike, a mamachari. So he can pedal to Tokyo. To most people, the evidence so far suggests he's probably not the full quid. Or else mentally damaged in some other way. But...

He’s a thief.

Well of course, you're right. Justice should be visited upon him. But, to paraphrase Arthur Miller...

"Oh, Cleo, your justice would freeze beer..."

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Was this an e-bike? When I think Mamachari I think of an electric bike.

Mamachari has been the name for the standard Japanese bike since whenever - long before e-bikes were invented

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If he made a vlog about his journey, he would be rich.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The Japanese version of Don Quixote.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Mamachari has been the name for the standard Japanese bike since whenever - long before e-bikes were invented

Thank you

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@JeffLee

No, he will not get bail.

They will hold him for a mandatory 10 days, and interrogate the hell out of him even tho he has already admitted to the crime. He will have to see the prosecutor and be interrogated some more during that time.

Then, depending on his history, they will let him go with a hefty fine. Then he has to hope that the victim doesn't file a civil lawsuit on him (which it is very likely he will, just to get some ¥).

At the end of the day... he should have just bought a bike, because by the time he gets done with all the money he has to fork out, he probably would have been able to take the shinkansen there , stayed for a while, went on shopping sprees, and so on.

Or at maybe it would have been more worthwhile stealing a car lol

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I have to say when I lived in inaka (now Tokyo), bike theft/borrowing was rather common. I recall an English teacher friend who used to grab any random bicycle while living in Wakayama and ride to the station and leave it there, and reverse on the way home. Kind of funny.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That Bicycle is now worth lots of money, some one should buy it, bail the guy out and give the rest of the money to him so he can pay back the original owner then enjoy his stay in Tokyo.

poor guy, must have been Down and Out.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In addition to "chari" being "charinko" and not chariot, these bikes are not ridden only by women and students. Men ride them as well. They can be really convenient. It's less now than it used to be; but I've ridden many miles on a mamachari.

If the bike isn't registered to an owner, I suspect no charges will actually get filed. A local tv station should give him a bike to complete the ride.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The Japanese Forrest Gump?!?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He did not still the bicycle, he just took it and went for a ride to Tokyo.

Let this man go free, he has no bad intentions.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

He did not still the bicycle, he just took it

Um, yeah, when you don't have permission to "just take it", it's "stealing".

4 ( +5 / -1 )

the evidence so far suggests he's probably not the full quid. Or else mentally damaged in some other way.

OK, could be. So do a proper assessment on him; if he is firing on all cylinders, 11 weeks' community service and a new bike for the wronged bike owner. If it turns out he's not gradely reet, then give him the proper mental health help he needs.

Either way, what he did was not right, was not inspirational and should not be turned into any kind of heart-warming news story.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Stealing is wrong!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sadly the Japanese, have a contorted version of theft when it comes to bicycles.... and I, am going to illustrate this personally here.

I think the Japanese have a concept that .. if they can "Borrow" something, then its okay, so long as they return it at some point later....

My Eldest Kid, came back from School late at night to find that their bicycle had been removed from where it had been left. Apart from being rather annoyed, the immediate reaction was to find an unlocked bicycle and ride it home... which they did.

As soon as I head this story, I forced them (accompanied) to take the bike back and place it back exactly from whence it came. And as you can imagine, they weren't impressed at having to do so... but "two wrongs do not make a right"... that said bike, remained in the same location for several days (... I checked, though my Kid's bike was not to be seen)....

In the mean time I had checked the local Municipal Bike Compound and they did not take bicycles upon the day it had gone missing... so clearly... it had been "Stolen"/"Removed".

So, upon the exact day the week after, I took my Kid back to the same place... and lo & behold... what did we find.... the bike, minus its lock. The Yellow ID sticker had been scraped away, and the cut lock was soon found thrown over a nearby fence. After waiting a while to see if the "culprit" would return, we took the bike back home, stopping off at the local Police box, explaining what had transpired.

Borrowing with Bolt cutters, vs simply Borrowing an unlocked bicycle are two different things. the Former deserves attention of the Police, the latter... well - you're lucky if you get you Bicycle back... but you should go back and check where you left it a week to the day .... as it may pay off... the latter, is a Japanese thing, something I've seen over many years here.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

He wasn't trying very hard. 1000km over 78 days is just under 13km per day. That''s about an hour of cycling a day.

While he was traveling, how was he funding food, water etc? Makes you wonder?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Tey should have takem him to the police statuon in Tokyo

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

They should of taken him to the police station* in Tokyo.

Sorry I was typing too fast.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The man admitted to stealing the bicycle after he was stopped for questioning,

I wonder how frequent and thorough these police questionings are. It seems like they really squeeze the life out people they question.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

チャリンコ is thought to derive from onomatopoeically from the sound ちゃりん made by the bell. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the term comes from the Korean チャジョンコ, or bicycle.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

He wasn't trying very hard. 1000km over 78 days is just under 13km per day. That''s about an hour of cycling a day.

He did it over a record-breaking rainy season, so let's give him 30+km a day when it wasn't raining. The weather has kept me of the bike a lot recently.

The idea of a 78-day holiday sounds nice, but I wouldn't trade my family, job, and home for it. The guy is only two years older than me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is the best article and news I read in ages! This guy is amazing! 1000km on a mamachari!! I can't even do that nor survive that! This guy is a champion!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"...and travelled to the armpit of Japan"

Ha! Ha! Never thought of the Big Edo that way before...

"Who cares that it took him 11 weeks and he covered a thousand kilometres. He could have spent that time looking for a job..."

Yes, quite right!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tokyo is not worth the trip, better stay in Kagoshima IMHO

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So, bike theft aside... I have a ton of respect for this guy.

I biked some 350 km across my country with a friend once. That was a really grueling endeavor, and I was in my 20s and had a really decent sports bike. Can't even imagine what it's like going 3x that distance for a 53 year old guy on a damn mamachari in a very mountainous country.

Follow your dreams, man. Just maybe don't steal bikes to do it :D

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@cleo

travelled to the armpit of Japan.

He was going to Tokyo, not Nagoya.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Police thought he looked suspicious when they spotted him pushing the mamachari up a slope with an umbrella hooked onto the bike, which they thought was odd for a sunny day with temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius.

Talk about a slow crime day, huh boys?

Generally when you see some old dude walking his bike up a hill, you just think it's too steep for him and he's just going his way, who cares?

But to get into that much thought that some umbrella made him suspect? I guess the wi-fi was down in the koban at that time. They couldn't play their little phone games I guess.

Do they have gofundme in Japan? Get the dude a bike!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Police thought he looked suspicious when they spotted him pushing the mamachari up a slope with an umbrella hooked onto the bike, which they thought was odd for a sunny day with temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius.

Isn't that like harassment? The dude was minding his own business on a life mission. Where I'm from, the police would've given him a ticket and a date to show up in court for the stolen bike (which would've not been a big issue) and do what they can to help him see this big city. The police here have no sense of compassion. Just only focus on that quota. smh

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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