Posted by: thewhitesintokyo | April 24, 2009


Let me just take off my rose-colored glasses for a sec.

Now that we have that out of the way…today I discovered another surprising downside to life on a bicycle that you might find amusing.

First, a preface. Thanks to my father, every time I have gotten a haircut, whether in the U.S., Argentina, Italy, or Japan, the stylist (without exception) has made some sort of comment about my “nice, thick head of hair.” For that, I’m grateful. It’s the arm hair and the beard that gave me trouble this week.

Riding next to the Tamagawa river is beautiful, peaceful, and serene, but at sunset, it can be a total nightmare. Just like in bug-infested Minnesota where people joke that the mosquito is the State Bird, clouds of gnats rise and swarm along the river path right before sunset. This just so happens to be the same time that I’m on my way home by bike. Make no mistake, I hate bugs. Especially bugs that fly. Many a romantic evening cuddling in a hammock have been ruined by a few pesky little bugs in my ears.

Now, imagine with me for a moment walking along this river towards a beautiful mountain-sunset. Next, picture a dense cloud of gnats hovering right above the bike path by the river. And finally, imagine me riding my bike straight through the unavoidable cloud. The result ranges between 2 and 15 (the standing record) gnats getting stuck in the hair of each of my arms. I then have to stop completely and rub them off since their little legs and wings aren’t strong enough to free them from the snare of my hair. That’s not the worst part. I then have to rub my chin, mustache and cheeks to shake them out of my beard. Yeah, it’s disgusting.

I’ve at least learned to keep my mouth closed when riding home…and yes, I learned the hard way. Maybe that’s why Japanese guys wear those surgeon masks when they ride their bikes. Or, that could explain why so many don’t have facial hair.

A pamphlet dropped at our new apartment_____Grandpa and grandson

(My beard is often referred to as a “Jesus beard” by our friends here.
Maybe this is why…)



  1. Great post! Love the hat!

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