There are different ways to live in Japan as a foreigner. You can go out, eat and drink to Roppongi, cut your hair at Australian hairdresser and ride your BMW to exclusive gym at the top of a skyscraper to jog on a jogging machine. You can shop for food in National Azabu supermarket in Hiroo. (For those who are not here National is the large expensive shopping center catering to gaijin 外人 = foreigner needs). And of course hire Philippino lady who will take care of laundry and clean your apartment while you spending your leisure time in American club.
Or you can live local.
Shop in a tiny grocery store across the street, wash clothes in a coin laundry next door, eat ramen in one out of plentiful local ramen shops and enjoy dipping into shared pool of public bath or sento 銭湯 in your quarter paying 380 yen per visit. I fall somewhere in the middle and while I live between Azabu-Juban and Hiroo in kind of gaijin enclave, I do have quite a few local connections. Sooner or later I will try to blog them here. For the start I wanted to tell about very important man in my life, my bicycle Master, Doctor or even Magician Mr. Hara.
Whether you are live local or not, you not going to send your bicycle to States for fixing popped tire or changing spikes. I cycle every day and when something goes wrong with my bicycle I see Doctor Hara. First I meet Hara-san long time ago. I had just smuggled my Trek bicycle through Japan customs from the USA and was desperately looking for some missing parts and fitting. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is a Trek authorized dealer not so far from my house. That’s how I met Mr. Hideo Hara and became loyal customer of his Azabu cycle shop.
Since then I am the happiest cyclist in Tokyo. Mr. Hara is very calm and doesn’t talk much, but he has that rare feel for bicycle which distinguish true master. He is an avid cyclist himself and put quite a few impressive enhancements to bikes he rides. And he would never push you something you don’t really need. Overwhelmed with work he often employs assistants, but still does most involved treatment with his own hands.
In his tiny shop behind the fence of standard ママチャリ shopping bikes you will find impressive selection of mountain, road and racing bikes, frames and cycling goods and accessories. There is circle of cyclists grouping around the shop and you will also find photo diaries of their recent adventures.
Here is the shop’s map and address:
Minato-ku Shirokane 3-2-4