Tag Archives: jinrikisha

人力車

22 Mar

I was watching a TV program called 「きょうは何の日」 (lit. “What day is today?“).

This show tells something that happened in history on the same date in history. Something like “On this date in history…” might be a better translation of the show’s title.

It said that 140 years ago today, on 1870 March 22, the 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“) was invented in Japan.

(Click here to see a post I wrote about a trip we took to Yokohama about two years ago…and I took a photo of a 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“) near Yokohama Chinatown (there’s also photos of cool graffiti in that post)).

There seems to be a bit of controversy over who exactly invented the 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“).
Some say a Japanese businessman in Tokyo named Yosuke Izumi invented it, but others say it was invented by an American missionary in Yokohama named Jonathan Goble.

There seems to be evidence supporting both stories and neither can be proven conclusively.

Either way, the 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“) is 140 years old today and, although it was used as a major form of transportation in Japan back then, it is mainly only ridden by tourist (both Japanese and overseas visitors) in parts of Japan with a lot of traditional history…such as Asakusa, Kamakura, Yokohama, Kyoto, etc.
The 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“) pullers double as tour guides explaining the history of the sites to his customers.

Also, geisha can sometimes be seen riding in them as part of their image.

The 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“) was imported into other parts of Asia.
So the word “rickshaw” is famous around the world…but in Japanese, 「人力車」 is actually pronounced “jin-riki-sha“…literally “human-powered vehicle”.

Have you ever ridden in a 「人力車」 (“rickshaw“)?