Although bicycle theft is on the decline in Japan (for example, in Tokyo, the number of total reported thefts dropped from 51,094 in 2015 to 31,937 in 2019), it's still a persistent problem for bike owners.

Security options can help but they invariably come with disadvantages such as inconvenience or extra cost. But what if you didn't need anything like that and could park your bike as it is, confident that nobody (or hardly anyone) would likely steal it?

Japanese artist Yone Yonemoto may have discovered a way. In a viral Tweet posted on December 13th, DJ, media creator, and producer Afromance (whose work we've featured numerous times on grape Japan) revealed the artist's ingenious solution:

"The guy I met today made a 'bike that won't get stolen because it looks like a guardrail,' and I thought to myself: 'This is a genius.'"

Reproduced with permission from Afromance (Tw: @afromance) and Yone Yonemoto (IG: @yonemotoyone)

If you've spent some time in Tokyo, you'll probably recognize that design. As you can see in the stock photo below, many of Tokyo's municipal roads have green guardrails featuring the city's symbol, which is a ginkgo leaf. Yonemoto's bike design would blend in like camouflage, indistinguishable from the guardrail. Of course, you'd have to park your bike on a municipal road...

Fast&Slow | © PIXTA

As you can see from a post on his Instagram account, it was a work he made in 2015, but Afromance just happened to see it when he visited him and it went viral when he posted it to his Twitter account.

Yone Yonemoto

Yone Yonemoto doesn't only make bicycles. In fact, as Afromance pointed out in a follow-up Tweet, he is known for making cute monsters out of clay and other unique creations, such as these:

Mini-interview with the artist

We were curious about this unique project, so we asked Mr. Yonemoto a few questions:

grape Japan (gJ): So, how did you come up with the idea for this piece?

Yone Yonemoto (YY): Actually, it's a work I presented for an event called 『また、つまらぬものを作ってしまった』 "Once again, I have made a worthless object" (a parody of the iconic phrase "Once again, I have cut a worthless object," uttered by Goemon Ishikawa XII in the manga and anime Lupin III), a crafts version of an 大喜利 ōgiri (a type of entertainment in which contestants come up with witty responses based on themes) organized by 片桐仁 Jin Katagiri [sculptor and comedian, formerly of Rahmens] and 乙幡啓子 Keiko Otsuhata [writer and handicraft artist whose work at her atelier 妄想工作所 mōsō kōsakujo we recently featured] some four years ago.

I personally had my bike stolen a lot, so I thought about how I could come up with an amusing way to avoid having it stolen, and that's when I had the idea of a bike that mimics a guardrail. At first, I only expressed the idea as an illustration, but I wanted to make Jin Katagiri and Keiko Otsuhata laugh, so I decided to actually make it.

gJ: On your Instagram account, you wrote: "I wonder if a bike that mimics a guardrail wouldn't get stolen?" but was there anything else behind the concept?

YY: Well, rather than a concept, my strongest motivation was the desire to just make something ridiculous.

gJ: You are known for creating artworks out of clay. Is this bike made of clay?

YY: I made the frame out of a material similar to aluminum piping, reinforced the curved parts with quick-drying clay, and added other bicycle parts to it.

gJ: Can you actually ride it as a bike? If you can't ride it in its current state, do you hope to eventually make it into a model that you can actually ride?

YY: It does sort of run but I only created it to make people laugh at the event. It's structurally weak and you can't actually ride it. If I had known it would go viral the way it did, maybe I would have made it more structurally sound.

gJ: Do you have any intention of exhibiting it?

YY: It's no longer in my possession so I can't exhibit it. The next time I make one, I'm thinking of making it properly.

If you'd like to see more of Yone Yonemoto's whimsical and imaginative artworks, follow him on Instagram.

By - Ben K.