Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan gave me my cycling life

In 1989 I moved to Japan with my family to start work at the Kansai Advanced Research Centre, in Nishi Akashi. This was south of Kobe, a new research centre. We had an apartment about four or five kilometres from the lab.

To get to work I could  get two buses, which took quite a while. But I decided to ride a bike. I hadn’t ridden a bike for a long time. But I just thought I would try it. Several times at the start I got lost. People always insisted on coming with me to show me where to go. Such kindness.

It was in early Autumn. I can still remember struggling up the steep hill on the red bicycle. It was just a standard household bike - no gears. It took a long time for me to be able to make it up the hill without getting off and walking. But I was determined.

I kept riding all through the winter. Even when it snowed. Coming down the hill at night, the sun setting early it would be really cold. A couple of times I couldn’t feel my fingers. Then I couldn’t feel my arms. It was really really cold.

At that time we were the only non-Japanese family in the area. It was quite funny when the locals sighted a foreigner on a bicycle. I don’t think they knew what to make of it. It was a shock to them, I could tell.

It was such a safe environment to ride a bicycle. None of the road rage that you found even then in Australia. I was so fortunate to have that time to get used to riding a bicycle in traffic. I remember one morning I had a confusion with a car, where I fell over. The driver immediately stopped and helped me. It was so wonderful.

So here I am watching Fukushima, and I think of all of the wonderful experiences that Japan gave me and my family. I’ve long forgotten how to pray, but I just might try to remember and start again.

1 comment:

sachi said...

I am so glad Japan has been kind to you for you and your cycling life. It has been for me as well, as I've just started my tour a week ago. I am re-discovering the wonderful people and culture that I'd taken for granted. I wish and pray for the better for all things happening right now in the northern Japan.