This is the typical Japanese bicycle. In the Japanese style of mixing and shortening English words, the word mamachari comes from mum and chariot. Although this style of bike is mostly used by Japanese mothers, who attach seats for the toddlers, the bike is popular for all ages and sexes in Japan.

I myself have owned one. They’re great for a quick trip to the convenience store or getting to/from the local train station.

This mamachari is one I hired on a recent visit to the Arashiyama area of Kyoto.

Mamachari: The Japanese Bicycle

mamachari ママチャリ - Arashiyama, Kyoto bicycle hire HDR
NIKON D5200 (40mm, f/5.3, 1/400 sec, ISO100)
mamachari ママチャリ (mama chariot) – Arashiyama, Kyoto bicycle hire (HDR photo)
Hiring a bicycle is a great way to see Japan as a tourist. It certainly helps me pack more into my day, as I was able to quickly get to Tenryu-ji then relax at the Togetsukyo Bridge.

It’s very cheap to hire and you pay a small refundable deposit of about ¥2,000. The bike rental shop is a short 2 minute walk from Saga-Arashiyama Station (look for the signs).

The mamachari has a very distinct set of features, which has made it so popular in Japan:

  • Front basket holds a decent amount of groceries. Mothers also places a kid’s seat here.
  • A front pedal-powered light that is very reliable.
  • Mudguards on the tires and a chain guard keep you clean and dry.
  • The step through style makes it easy to get on and off.
  • The kick stand and wheel lock make secure parking easy.

If you’re exploring the Kyoto city area, try the Kyoto Cycling Tour Project for bicycle hire, which has 2 easy locations: Kinkaku-ji and Kyoto Station.

Map of the bicycle rental location:

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View this location – Map coordinates: 35.019, 135.68.

Interesting related links:

  • Mamachari Endurance Race – an annual event taking place on a race track, where hundreds (maybe more) compete in a 12 hour race.
  • Mama Bicycle – a blog about mamachari’s started by a Japanese guy in Kyoto.