Saga of the ZenBikes

When we first arrived here in the countryside, I began a search for a bike. I wanted a folding one with gears. I found out later that the train will not allow one to carry bikes on the train cars, unlike the states. Even the folding ones are not allowed unless they are in a case so it can not be seen it is a bike. That is really weird thinking for a place that suppose to be bike friendly. Ok so, I gave up the idea of a folding bike. I did not really need to carry it on the train anyway. I kept and eye out for a good deal. One day on the way to Kyudo I noticed a used bike store. A stopped in one day and found they had a used bike, with a basket and a rear rack. It was only $30.00 bucks! It did not have gears but for $30.00 bucks I could make do. We did not have a lot of hills in the area I needed to ride anyway. So after practice I made the purchase, paid the county fee and I rode it home. It was all good. It became my main transport. Mostly to Kyudo…
However also to every place else near and far, instead of walking or taking the costly train.

So I have been riding it here and there, to Kyudo, to the mall, beach, photo-outings. Last Monday I rode from the boat harbor …
up to the World Heritage Zen Temple in the local foothill…
This is where I go for group Zen sitting once a month. So yeah, I have been getting my $30.00 use out of it. I have been still wanting a multi gear bike. There is not a lot to deal with locally for hills, but there are a few places where gears would be handy both up and down some long slopes.
One day on the way back from Kyudo I pass a fenced yard that has stuff in it, like a recycle yard or trash gathering. I notice several bikes. There are two men’s and two womens. Three of the four are multi-gears. I see this for a couple of weeks. One day I stop and get the phone number on the fence. I have LZ call and ask about if the bikes are for sale. She at first received no answer, then received a call back message they need to hold the bikes for a while.
Ok so a couple of weeks pass. I have her recall. She get in touch with someone at the office and explains her husband is a foreigner, so please excuse the unusual question. Apparently this is something very out of the normal for Japan and us Gaijin get a free pass on weirdness. Someone calling about something thrown away or recycled, ranks in this category. Anyway once she explains, they they are helpful. No need to buy I can come a just take whatever I want, more than one if wanted. No problem, someone should get some use from them. Otherwise they will just get trashed. However do not wait too long as the trash/recycle people show up without warning to take away the items. This company is an apartment realtor and stuff that is left in vacated apartment they clean out and the trash people haul it away.
Ok, now I am thinking happy thoughts. We are told the office is closed on Tues and Weds, other than those days, I can just come by the office. Someone will let me in the yard to take what I want. It is Monday morning when we are speaking with them. I make plans to go that later afternoon. I am expected to visit my mother-in-law in the hospital that day, so I will go afterwards so hopefully get there before the recycle truck and the rain.
Ok, so after walking around a lot looking for the office and getting directions from a couple of different people I make it to the lease office. I am taken to the lot. The bike that I wanted had a lock on it, and they had no key, so I chose another as my second choice. It was in good shape more or less and a Street/dirt bike, perfect for jumping curbs, potholes, the like. Ok. So now thinking ahead I ask for a receipt, to avoid any hassle with the police and knowing I need the bike registered. I am told after much discussion, and language hurdles, sorry they can not do that. They can not really do anything not even give me a business card for the police to check with the manager. Sigh. Ok I say I will just go to the police and sort it out. They say ok, good, Sumimasen, and I reply in like and I am off for the ride home.
I walk over to the Esso station fill up with air the low tires, get a mini Japanese lesson and I am off to home. The ride home was ok, the bike handled well. I am pleased the headlight, generator powered works as do the brakes and gears. I do get wet, because it starts raining. Not really a big deal I was expecting it, and lucky the day was fairly warm. I am not alone on my bike ride home I see several others out and about in the rain.
Now things get complex. The next day LZ calls the local police. She is told, since the bike is registered in Tokyo this is a big problem. They can not delete the former owner from the record of ownership. They can also not check with Tokyo PD to get any information. We are told perhaps a local bike shop will still register the bike, but they can not do anything to help. WTH! One police dept can not get info from another in the same country, a small country like Japan! A small High tech country, with mountains of rules! Ehhhhhhh?! Sugoi okashi na!
Sugoi, this is unbelievable! Ok, LZ says, maybe it is just the local Sennan police, so she calls Osaka police. They say, ehhh who told you we could not check Tokyo? Blah blah blah. They wanted to know with whom we spoke. Then also said pretty much the same thing about no can do with the registration. It is a problem. They mostly repeated rules and regulations. Japan is not a flexible country for things, even minor things, rules are rules. Even things that are not “rules”, but just the way it has been done…for ages. Ok, we say, and let it go. Figuring we will try a local bike shop to just get a local license, they can call the realtor to verify we did not steal it, maybe we can get lucky.
We make ready to head off to a store to pick up some things. While outside I am showing LZ how to adjust things on my old bike and check if she can ride it. While there a motorcycle cop pulls up. He stops a few houses down from us and makes a call on his two way. I flash in my head hmmm is he here about us? The mailman also pulls up with a package for us. We have the street kind of blocked with our three bikes, the postman and now the cop is coming towards us. Turns out, yes he is here for us, checking on the bike, because of our call! Sugoi!
I surprised, but in a way not, since that is what I flashed on soon as I saw him, still. This is worth sending a cop to check out? In the states, no way, police are too busy dealing with murders, break- ins, car Jackings, rape, robberies, etc. Hmmm, well this is a small town, not much to do. Ok, so he explains some things to LZ. He calls in the bike numbers to HQ, and talks to LZ. I am kind of embarrassed since the street is small and the cop is talking loud. Not unfriendly but still loud, I am thinking , oh jheez, everyone will hear this. The busybody Obachan will be out to see what is going on! Ok, this is a big problem we are told. It would be best to just return the bike to the company, he says. They should not have given it to me. Not something that is done. Sigh, good grief I think. 
Ok, we need to wait…for some return call or something. The Cop is on the radio, walking back in forth, talking, waiting…Finally he has LZ call HQ. the final judgment is, they have contacted Tokyo. The bike, as far as they have back-tracked to several people, is not stolen, however the original owner can not be found. I can use it but if I get stopped, it will take some time ( about 30 min) for to them to track the numbers with Tokyo ( again), and release me, if I want to risk using it. oMG what a system.
Ok, so where we are now is, since the police have checked and the bike as far as they can tell it is clear. We will try to get a local bike shop to issue a local license because the local police have cleared the bike …mostly. If we have the local license then I will not have to go through the hassle of being checked. Since the local police have cleared the bike, the shop owner can call them to verify that they checked and hopefully give me the bike permit.
We’ll see what happens next.
To be con’t…

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