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Updated : January 29, 2021

Introduction of Olympic torchbearer 08

  The world’s oldest bicycle – a magnificent restoration of the land-sea bicycle!

【 Honjo city, Fukaya city 】 Mr. Masato Arai



Mr. Masato Arai restored the world’s oldest bicycle, “Rikusensha”, in Honjō City. He states that he would like to utilize the torch relay as a chance to spread the word on “Rikusensha” and Honjō City, birth town of bicycles, to the world. He plans to run carrying his responsibility as a project leader and father.


—What exactly is the world’s oldest bicycle, “Rikusensha”?

It is a vehicle devised by a farmer, Shōdamonya, from Musashinokuni Kodama District’s Kitahorimura (present Kitahori of Honjō City) during the middle of the Edo period in 1729. The main method of travel during the Edo period was on a ship, and the Rikusensha is a ship with tires on it to be used on land. 


—Why did you become the one to restore the bicycle?

Although the historical document of the Rikusensha was not in Honjō City, based on the results obtained by the director of the Honjō Municipal Museum of Historical Folklore Documents, restoration was made possible due to the structure of the Rikusensha being made clear. The director then said, “Your hands are dexterous.”, which led me to be the one in charge of the creation of the Rikusensha. It seems that the skills I’ve used to stich up a wedding dress for my wife in hopes of entering the Tokyo marathon together in disguise has been approved *chuckles*.



—Did you sign up as a torch bearer to promote the Rikusensha?

No, that is not the case. I did not know that the Rikusensha would be running the torch relay from the very beginning. The reason why I signed up was because Honjō City is “the birth town of bicycles” and I wanted to run the route that would pass from Honjō City to Fukaya City. Also, I, myself, graduated Honjō High School and it is an area full of memories from the 4 years I lived there when I was newly-married.


—So it seems that the Rikusensha is a four-wheeled vehicle. What do you want to emphasize about the bicycle?

I first started making the Rikusensha in hopes of receiving an Ig Nobel Prize (a parody of the Noble Prize and is a prize given to an achievement that made people laugh and think), and I later hoped that a trial run would be made at the “Tour de France Saitama Criterium” taking place in Saitama City, but now I am given the chance to spread the word through the torch relay of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With more improvements made, I’d like to restore the Rikusensha so that it can run at a speed of 14km as written in documents. The restored Rikusensha is on display at the brick warehouse of the old Honjō Commerce Bank; if you are interested, please go visit.


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—Which sport or athlete are you particularly paying attention to? 

Softball. I’ve had players from the “Bic Camera Women’s Softball Takasaki” team come see the production of the Rikusensha and was able to receive their signatures and messages on parts. I believe that a gold medal is possible in Softball and am cheering for a victory. 


—Lastly, please share with us what you are enthusiastic about regarding the torch relay.

The fact that I am running as torchbearer is exciting for my daughters, especially for my second daughter who is in first grade. Prior to signing up as torchbearer, I had the opportunity to hold a torch used in the 1964 tournament at the “A Year Before Tokyo 2020 Olympics Event” held in Saitama Prefecture in 2019 and it seems that the particular episode has left a lasting impression on me. I’d like to make a solid run given that my daughters are growing up and the memory of the torch relay will remain in their heads.

Mr. Masato Arai's recommendation


 Mr.Eiichi Shibusawa Android (Lecture Room of Eiichi Shibusawa Memorial Hall)

Ms. Yui
Mr. Masato
Mr. Ian









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