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Japan’s human-powered vehicles defy the years

The human-powered vehicles known as “Jinrikisha,” which have been used in Japan since the 1870s, defy the years despite advancing technology. Jinrikishas have recently been used for entertainment purposes and still attract great attention in the historical district of Tokyo, Asakusa.

Misato Otoshi, the manager of a Jinrikisha company in Asakusa, said, “We know that Jinrikisha has been used since the 1870s in Japan. These vehicles, which played an important role in urban transportation when cars and trains were not common, were also preferred because they could move easier than horses in narrow streets”. Stating that human-powered vehicles are no longer needed in daily life, Otoshi added: “Today, many foreign visitors and some Japanese people prefer these vehicles as a tourist attraction.”

Kanta Okayama, who is a Jinrikisha driver, explains why he likes his job by saying, “I like sports, and I have played soccer for 14 years. I also thought this job can improve my skills in areas such as sales and communication. Carrying people is a little bit difficult, but before becoming a Jinrikisha driver, we need to pass an exam after practicing a lot. If we pass the exam, we can become a Jinrikisha driver.” Noting that she came to Asakusa to experience this culture, Sona Arakawa said, “I tried it for the first time. It was surprisingly comfortable, and I had a lot of fun.”. Shio Osawa also mentioned, “It was my first experience. I was having so much fun that I lost track of time.”

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