Since we had no air conditioning in our townhouse, we had the front and back doors open, with just the screen door closed to keep the bugs out. The man in the dark basement calls out to me, not to turn on the light due to the gas leak, but he needs me to come down to show him where the furnace is. I literally just found this out a few days ago. Being a foreigner, there are unspoken rules (some more obvious than others) about what a citizen roaming Japan (citizen or foreigner) is expected to follow. Just because you are foreign, doesn’t excuse anything. You will still be stopped and questioned regardless of your background. The police might keep the fact that you are a foreigner in mind, kind of like an unspoken “Oh it’s just a stupid foreigner, he probably didn’t know” and let you off a little easier (depending on what you’ve done), whereas if you were a citizen you would be treated like you should have known better. Let me say first and foremost, a bike is the BEST way to get around Tokyo and the outlying towns that are most famous in the area. You can get from Tokyo station to Akihabara in like 20 minutes, or Akihabara to Ueno in another 10-15 or so, and see so much along the way! The electrical assist feature is the best, you can leave the bike in high gear and just start pedaling. It will get up to speed VERY fast, you actually have to be careful in crowds because it can unexpectedly quickly accelerate with very little pedal input.
I was freaking out, because of the way he charged at me and I didn’t want to get in trouble all the way over here! I left feeling grateful, but I’m sure I’m not the first foreigner to have done that! I walked my bike to the nearest street before getting on again and riding away. I finally reached my goal of the Imperial Garden areas, and started riding my bike along the very long paths towards the gates and entrances, when ANOTHER policeman (like 5 minutes apart) starts charging at me with a little red flag telling me to stop in the most angry voice! I don’t know if you have ever been yelled at in Japanese, the tone sounds just very angry! That was my first experience where I was legitimately freaked out and I thought something bad was going to happen this time. I AGAIN, fell to the ground in forgiveness, apologizing over and over. He was a bit more strict, probably because this WAS the area around the Imperial Palace after all. He didn’t smile, and told me to walk the bike away. He was literally pointing me OUT of the park, almost lie he didn’t want me to come back, so I didn’t. I definitely didn’t feel welcome after that, but that was my own fault! Needless to say, only ride your bike on streets, stay off main sidewalks, parks, popular places and other such areas, while taking backroads when you can. Not only will you avoid larger groups of pedestrians, which is safer, but you can avoid cops as well! You can tell how freaked out I was having started going to Ueno park with my bike next….. I definitely ASKED someone at the information stand if it was OK to ride my bike there, which it was!