On September 16-17, 2007, my wife and Louise and I participated in the 10th Annual TOEI Owners Meeting at Lake Tateshina. This year marked our 25th wedding anniversary, and we decided to celebrate in Japan; we decided to visit in September so that we could attend the 2007 TOM. We visited Japan in 2004 to visit our bicycling friends Tsuyoshi Nakahori and Manabu Kikuchi, who share my interest in classic bicycles and parts. On that visit we visited the TOEI shop and met the men of TOEI, and that is when I had the dream to attend one of these TOEI meetings. Seeing the beautiful TOEI 50th Anniversary bicycle frames and carriers and meeting these gentlemen planted the seed for me to own a TOEI in the future. I have ordered a TOEI 650B randonneur bicycle.
The generosity and friendship of Tsuyoshi and Manabu made it possible for us to attend the 2007 TOM and we had a wonderful time. Tsuyoshi was very generous to drive us and host us at his home, and Manabu was very generous to allow me to ride one of his beautiful TOEI bicycles. Their generosity and friendship mean a lot to me and made our trip very special.
The meeting was great fun, of course. Seeing many beautiful TOEI bicycles gave me ideas for the TOEI 650B bicycle that I have ordered. Staying at a wonderful chalet near Lake Tateshina, with that fresh mountain water and delicious food, was all that we hoped it would be when we planned our vacation. The group bicycle ride was very scenic and, even in the rain at the finish of the ride, a fun ride. And enjoying good food and beer afterwards at the banquet, with a strong feeling of friendship and laughter, is always a joy. I just wish I had won a TOEI frame display prize…
Best of all, I enjoyed meeting the owners of these beautiful bicycles. I found many owners who share my enthusiasm for fine workmanship and interesting details. I also found some owners who share my interest in vintage cameras and jazz music. This allowed me to talk about more than bicycle parts and bicycle riding, and I appreciated that. But I also enjoyed talking about bicycles, and even though I do not speak Japanese, I was able to communicate because of my excitement to be there and the willingness of everyone to speak with me. This is a very friendly group. The event organizers, Mr. and Mrs. Koizumi, treated Louise and I like old friends: they were very nice and happy to see us there. And my new friend Sato-san was very helpful in translating for me. I was happy to finally meet Akuta-san, our ride leader whose website I visit often. And of course, this was another chance to be with Tsuyoshi and Manabu, which is important to me. The TOEI owners made us feel like old friends, a wonderful feeling-thank you.
Before the meeting I decided to say thank you to everyone and explain how important I think the bicycle is to bring people together. I wrote a short speech and our friend Keiko translated my English into Japanese, and explained the correct pronunciation of the words. I studied well because my talk was well received and appreciated. It was a small way to tell everyone how special it was to be there, and how it was made clear again that the bicycle has the power to bring people of different cultures together. Now that we are home in California, I look at my TOEI water bottle, my TOM pin collection, and my photographs from the 2007 TOM, and I have very good memories. I also know two things: I am very lucky to have attended this event and I must return to participate at a future meeting. The power of the bicycle is too strong to ignore.
Note: The next to last photo is at I's Bicycle shop.
Also, Ernest, from Japan, sent us the following link to the Grand Bois blog with some must-see photos of new models. Click on them for larger versions. The Model M, for multipurpose, is just fantastic. (BTW, we hope to soon have VO handlebars like those.)