Tokyo had rain off and on over Thursday and Friday, very heavy at times including early Saturday morning. The skies cleared today and by mid-day it was sunny and nice, not hot, really nice. The morning rain and work kept me off the bike this morning, but I took a spin out to C Speed to visit Hiroshi in the afternoon.
We had a nice talk — he was readying a bicycle for shipment to Hokkaido — one of his blog readers had ordered a Fuji track bike. Hiroshi said he is getting decent business from blog readers. (Yes, MOB, Positivo Espresso now has 30,000 views. Hiroshi’s blog has over 200,000).
A couple stopped by to browse, but the shop was otherwise quiet. We talked about the need to break through the traditional importer/wholesaler („tonya“) structure in order to provide good imported products at competitive prices. He showed me a Focus Izalco bike on the Wiggle site for about 360,000 yen, with Mavic Cosmic SLR Carbon wheels and Campy Super Record components, and said in Japan the wheels and Super Record gruppo alone would exceed that price. He sees lots of products offered online overseas for much less than the price Japanese wholesalers offer to him. He is thinking about teaming up with a small European brand that does not have a presence in Japan, to import direct — a great idea. MOB is suggesting that Hiroshi import and fix up old steel frames from Europe — there are plenty of beautiful ones to be had, and they would probably be a hit in Japan as long as you could find the smaller sizes. And he is thinking about maybe doing something in the nutrition area, though „proper“ imports (as opposed to mail order by individuals) require various testing, labeling and other requirements.
At this point, with the yen stronger than any time in the past decade against the dollar and the euro, a direct import model might work very well.
I took Rte 246 and some local roads out to Center Minami — an unpleasant experience until I got close to the Kohoku area where the streets widen and the traffic and pedestrians thin. On the way back, at Hiroshi’s suggestion, I took Nakahara Kaido. I used to ride this with Jerome and Juliane coming back from Yabitsu in 2005, and was pleased to see that in parts it has been widened and now has a nice shoulder. The last 5-6 km to Marukobashi is still slow going, with narrow lanes, standing traffic and cyclists and pedestrians. Today, I was rewarded with a very nice sky, beautifully clear after the rains, as I crossed the Tamagawa and headed for home. Pick your favorite photo.