Of Hikes and Bikes(ハイク&バイク)

Notwithstanding the fact that I only used up about one sixth of a recent 6-month gym membership (don’t judge me!), I would have you know that I am not a lazy person. No, sir. In fact, I have a very active lifestyle that involves a lot of walking. I walk from my bed to the kitchen in the mornings, trudge from my cubicle and back in between classes, sprint to the escalators on my way to lunch, march hourly to the restroom thanks to my teeny tiny bladder and regularly stroll around the pantry looking for food. Yes, a lot of walking.

When friends warned me about the Japanese lifestyle, transportation system and obsession with walking, I actually rolled my eyes and smirked. Walking is easy. Besides, the price of transportation here is very expensive, my huge ego considers it an insult to my youth. There is no way I’m paying that much for that short a distance unless I’m a crumbling 80-year-old desperate to get a ride. So when I suddenly got an urge to scour a Hyakuen shop today and found out that there wasn’t one near my neighborhood, I decided to walk to the nearest I can find – a good 2.1 kilometers away. As with everything else that requires numbers, my distance perception sucks. But 2.1 kilometers can not be that much, right?


友達が、日本人の生活スタイル、交通手段、そして「歩くこと」への強迫観念について警告してくれるたびに、私は目をグルグルさせてニヤニヤしてた。歩くなんて簡単なこと!それに、日本では移動にかかるお金もバカにならない。その忠告は若さに対する侮辱だと私の自尊心は受け止めた。ヨボヨボの80歳のお年寄りでもない限り、あんなに短い距離に対してあんなに高額の運賃を払うなんて絶対にありえない。だから今日、突然100円ショップをあさり回りたい衝動に駆られて、そして、それがすぐ近所にはないとわかった時、私は一番近い店まで歩いて行くと決めた… そう。たった2.1キロ離れた店まで。数字全般が苦手だけど、私の距離に対する感覚もなんか鈍いみたい。でも、2.1キロってそんなに遠いはずはないよね?

You will get lost. But just cross that bridge and get there.

Armed only with my trusty boots and undying stubbornness, I braved the winds and started walking. This is not bad at all. Halfway to the shop and I’m still breathing, though in shorter intervals this time. I don’t think that’s a very bad sign.

A few hundred meters later and my shoes are already killing me. I start wishing I had one of those bikes that keep whooshing by. But the thing about me and bikes is that, to put it simply, I don’t know how to ride them. Surprise! The thought of plunging into thin air with only two wheels supporting me is just not enticing enough to help me get over my serious trust issues. Even the fact that I see five-year-olds on a daily basis riding their bikes without training wheels is not sufficiently embarrassing to convince me to even try.

信頼できるブーツと断固たる決意で身を固めると、私は風なんかものともせず颯爽と歩き始めた。うん、悪くない。半分歩いたところで私はまだちゃんと呼吸をしてた…… かなり息が弾んできてたけれど。でも、これが悪いサインだとは思えない。

さらに数百メートルほど進むと、靴ズレがひどくなってきた。。ヒュンヒュンと風を切って通り過ぎてく自転車、アレが私のだったらなあ。あ、でも、私と自転車の関係はちょっと訳ありで、一言でいうと、乗れないんだ。ビックリ?? でも、たった2つのタイヤで自分を支えて、薄い空気に突っ込んでいくなんて、自転車に対して私が抱いている深刻な不信感を払拭するほどには魅力的じゃない。補助輪なしで自転車に乗っている5歳児を毎日のように目にしても、せめてチャレンジだけでもしてみようか、と私は思わない。でもそれを恥ずかしいとも思わない。

These toddlers are cooler than I ever will be on a bike.

Then comes the wandering around the shop. Not that I’m complaining about the wide variety of products I can choose from but why did this store have to be four floors high? Why does everything in Tokyo have to be a few floors high? In between trying not to plummet from the top of the stairs and contemplating whether I really need another pair of socks, I decided it’s time to head home.

Now, I don’t know how the people here do it. Maybe I am just in awful health and this is the universe’s way of telling me to hit the treadmill. But another 2.1 kilometers of lugging three bags later, my knees are shaking, an ocean is dripping down my nose, my fingers are frozen and my heart is about to jump off my chest.

私はようやく店内をうろつき始めた。幅広い品揃えについて不平を言ってるわけじゃないけれど、どうしてこの店は4階建なの? なんで東京の建物はすべて数階建てになってるわけ? 私は階段から転げ落ちないように気を付けつつ、本当にもう一足靴下が必要なのか検討を重ね、やがて家路につくことに決めたのだった。


The day’s about to end and my self-esteem is just about to run out.

Please, my dear Japanese friends, tell me this is normal. Tell me everybody experiences this. Else, be merciful and drag me to the nearest gym.

In the meantime, excuse me as I allow myself to collapse in a corner.



この記事を書いた Jill Ueda先生は Brighture のカリキュラムを松井博と共同開発したトップティーチャーです。

Ueda Jill

Curriculum Development Manager of Brighture English Academy