When in Rome, as the saying goes. And so when in Kyoto, wear a kimono. There’s nothing pretentious about getting into “costume”, so to speak, and exploring Japan’s old capital in a kimono. It’s fairly common to see both Japanese tourists (men and women) doing it.
But kimonos are not designed for walking fast and are certainly not designed for riding a bicycle — which is a shame, because Kyoto is a city ideal for cycling around, its layout being in the old grid system of Japanese capitals (see Nara).
Enter the KOTO LX-20, a kimono bike — that is, a bicycle designed for riders wearing kimonos.
Its concept might have traditional clothing in mind but the design itself feels retro and pop — not dissimilar to a Brompton — with the bottom bar set very low so your straight and long kimono won’t have issues with the pedals and so on. The chain looks fully covered so getting oil on the kimono also shouldn’t be a problem.
There are current three versions, each in its own wa (Japanese) color: OBOROZUKI (light blue), YUUGAO (white) and KOMURASAKI (purple). Wearing a matching kimono the best effects while cycling around Gion.
The bikes costs ¥48,000 ($440) and come with a snazzy leather saddle and three gears (there are some slopes in Kyoto). The KOTO LX-20 went on sale in April this year in Kyoto — has anyone seen them around the city? — but were recently showcased on Japaan.com and Rocket News 24.
We’re not sure if they are available for rental yet but surely it’s just a matter of time before kimono rental shops and hostels offer them.
Japan is a land full of cyclists, both of the hipster variety, the designer variety, and just the humble mama-chari “granny bike” variety. And so now we have the “traditional” Japanese bike, of sorts.
Here you can see the KOTO LX-20 in action around the old capital.
Toyota has once again collaborated with Znug Design to produce another fun Camatte booth for the Tokyo Toy Show.
Following the Camatte’s first appearance in the 2012 and 2013 editions of the fair which allowed kids to play around with car panels, now comes a double treat for both design and automobile fans.
The Camatte Lab is divided into two zones. The Tech Lab gives visitors an unusual up-close look at the inner workings of the car. The hands-on Design Lab is more creative, letting visitors customize a Camatte vehicle.
The Tech Lab features a Camatte57s without its body panels so you can see how the steering gear and differential gear box work. The internal parts are shown moving when the steering wheel and accelerator are operated.
The Tokyo Toy Show booth features multiple screens so even the driver can see in detail what is going on with the mechanics from every angle.
The neighboring Design Lab has a Camatte57s Sport vehicle with special LEDs projecting onto the hood. This means visitors can customize the sports car by displaying their own digital drawings with the LEDs. Kids, get your crayons ready!
The system scans the drawing and then projects it onto the car. Here are some of Toyota’s ideas for designs.
Toyota bills Camatte as a “customizable, sporty, family-oriented concept” that will “free your imagination”. The name is inspired by the Japanese word for caring, meaning both “caring for others” and “caring for cars”.
The Tokyo Toy Show 2014 is open to the public this weekend at Tokyo Big Sight.
walking bicycle club is a new brand of electric bicycle developed by automotive parts manufacturer Katayama Kogyo in cooperation with caliber designers like Shuwa Tei and Kenya Hara, and other advisors. The result is part mobility, part fashion vehicle.
The three-wheel motorized “Walking Bicycle” is pedaled in the same way as you would walk, making for an intuitive vehicle that is “pedestrian” in style in the best possible sense of the word. Oh, and they look mighty fine too.
Going on sale in October for 290,000 yen (around $3,000), the makers have set a target of shipping 100,000 in three years. Who do they hope will buy this vehicle? The target is younger consumers but also the middle-aged.
It can reaches speeds of up to 15mph (24km/h). Obviously that’s not just due to the rider’s walking abilities. There is a built-in “power assist” electric motor, which on a single charge should be able to go up to 12 miles (20km) on an average road surface.
The cool thing is you don’t need a license to ride this on a public road in Japan (like other electric bicycles, it is counted in the same class an ordinary bike) and you don’t get tired like you do when pedaling on a regular bike since the muscle action required is more leisurely.
The Walking Bicycle is 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) long and weighs 36.3kg (80 lbs). It comes in several color variations: Brilliant Red, Moegi Green, Champagne Gold or Sakura Pink. Look out for it from July when the makers will open a showroom in Omotesando.
Japanese drivers will be celebrating the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on their cars with special license plates.
All the boxes have been ticked here. Mt Fuji? Yes. Cherry blossom? Yes. Perhaps the only stereotypically “Japanese” image that is missing is a geisha.
If the 1964 Olympics are anything to go by, design should be paramount to the Games… and design also means merchandising. Get ready for mountains of toys, stationery, souvenirs, memorabilia and more… all with the Olympic logo.
The announcement of the special car license plates is merely the first step towards the national fanfare with which the Games will be prepared. Apparently it is the first time such a special car license plate will be made in Japan; they are usually very simple affairs in Japan. However, the images shown in this news report are only suggestions based on what officials have described. No formal designs have been released yet.
While we are certainly curious to see what the official mascot and logo design will be like, things don’t bode too well for the mentality of the Games organizers, though.
The executive committee behind the Games is populated almost entirely by men of pensioner age.
Former Prime Minister Yoshi Mori (76) is one of the most senior — both in rank and age. He recently made a real gaff — in a long career of gaffs — by giving World War Two as a reason why he never learnt English, despite being the head of state of the world’s second biggest economy at the time. He had been asked at a news conference if only-Japanese-speaking men all of a certain age was the right image to give out at such an international and prestigious event as the Olympics.
“I was in second grade when the war ended and until then, English was considered the enemy’s language,” Mori apparently said.
Well, I hope he leaves his weapons at home come 2020′s opening ceremony.
While the crowds were flocking to see the latest innovations in the Japanese automotive industry for the Tokyo Motor Show, there was another big car event in Odaiba last week.
As Nissan and Toyota et al showed off their concept cars that might just indicate the future of mobility (or the labors of an generously funded R&D department), November 24th also saw a one-day-only Itasha exhibition out in the bay.
Itasha are heavily — well, let’s be honest, overly — decorated cars that reflect the owner’s tastes in moe. A typical Itasha will feature shojo girls and other anime characters, and of course is driven by a self-professed otaku.
On Sunday, over 80 cars were driven down to Odaiba to be shown off to the world.
This “three-dimensional” Madoka car was spotted earlier this year and caused a storm on Twitter. Nice to see it back.
[All images via MyNavi.]
Showcased at last week’s Tokyo Toy Show 2013 was the Camatte57s, a concept car by Znug Design for Toyota.
The brainchild of Kenji Tsuji and Kota Nezu, the minimal Camatte57s is not only designed for kids to drive (obviously not on the road!), but also for them to be able to have fun personalizing and playing around with the car aesthetic.
The car has outlandish tires that poke out, plus the whole thing has this funky retro vibe that both hipsters and kids will love. The three-seater is very cozy — deliberately so, since the idea is to make driving in the car fun for kids again.
A previous version was introduced at last year’s Toy Show but this year there was an improved model which can be customized with fifty-seven lightweight panels. You don’t need complicated tools to attach and switch the panels — it’s so simple, even a child can do it.
The idea is the driver’s parents sit in the back, supervising their child while being taken for a ride. Just in case, there is an extra brake in the back so if the little one has trouble, daddy or mummy can stop the vehicle. Naturally you cannot have your kid drive on the real road so it is intended for large gardens or other special sites — not ideal for Japan, but surely tenable in America, Australia, Europe and other markets.
This is one of the first generation models.
To demonstrate, they also showcased a “sports” version of the Camatte57s with stripes and snazzy colors. It’s based on a Tamiya toy released last year.
Here are Toyota’s other suggestions for how to customize the colors. “Infinite possibilities”, as they say…
Why so much effort being put into inspiring the next generation to love cars? Surely they would automatically taken an interest, no? Not so in Japan, which for years has been suffering from a downward trend in new car sales among younger consumers known as kuruma-banare. Car rental services are very convenient and reasonably priced in Japan, and with most of population living in cities, people feel like they don’t need to own a vehicle. (Car-share programs are more limited, due to legal issues that tie a car officially to a specific parking space.) There is some irony in Toyota being the biggest car manufacturer in the world but its cars are bought less and less by drivers in its own country. Projects like the Camatte57s are an attempt to reverse the trend and get new drivers interested in having their own car again.
Recently showcased at an expo in Nagoya, Hirobo‘s new helicopters can travel up to 100km/h (62mph) and fly for 30 minutes at a time.
Being electric it is also very quiet and there are one-seater choppers that sell for 30 million yen ($375,000) and manless ones (a drone, but a nice one that doesn’t kill people!) for 10 million yen ($125,000).
Hirobo believes the domestic market alone for this kind of technology will grow to 10 billion yen (over $120 million) in 2021.
The one-seater chopper is not quite as funky as the James Bond rocket backpack in Thunderball, but it’s getting there.
This kind of mobile technology is obviously very useful for earthquakes and other disasters when you need to send people into dangerous and difficult terrain to look for survivors. Sure, it’s maximum travel time is very short, but this may be vital for delivering supplies of blood, organs or other emergency equipment.
Hirobo also hopes to develop two-seater versions.
GEN Corporation previously developed the GEN H-4, which they claimed was the world’s smallest manned helicopter.
The GEN H-4 was much cheaper (7.5 million yen / $100,000) but runs on noisy gasoline.