I've lived in Japan on and off for several years, and I've always felt safe on my bicycle here, particularly as I often see young and old women alike biking at all hours of the night. But after an event a few weeks ago, I feel as if this false sense of security has been stripped away.
Cycling home at 8:30 p.m. on a well-lit street in Tokyo, I sensed another biker by my side, so I slowed down to let him pass. At that point he suddenly cut over, trapped me against a parked car and grabbed my tire.
He began yelling at me in Japanese, but the only thing I could clearly understand was "You stole this bicycle!" I insisted that I had not and tried to pull away, but the man was strong and continued yanking on my bike. I bought it from a shop brand-new, so I knew it wasn't stolen. I also didn't believe that it was my bicycle he wanted.