Japanese student creates traditional bicycle, brings new life to centuries-old craft

Japan is often viewed as a glorious amalgamation of the old and the new, where hoodies are designed to look like traditional kimono and ukiyo-e prints feature “Star Wars” characters.

This restyling of old traditions is something that recently inspired one talented Japanese student to realize his own take on “Modern Japan” by building the bicycle of his dreams.

Setting it as an end-goal for his graduation project, Enji, who goes by @enjiblossomlily online, says he has now fulfilled his task of “melding a bicycle with a traditional craft”, and the result is a spectacular two-wheeler (photo above).

The handcrafted bicycle has been carefully thought-out from concept to finish, with the saddle, handlebars, tires and frame all designed to complement the star of the creation that sits in the middle of the piece: the lattice panel.

Lattice work like this is known as kitsuregoshi in Japan.

This centuries-old woodworking craft can be seen on sliding door panels in traditional Japanese rooms, and on walls beneath the roofs of shrine buildings.

Enji has taken inspiration from the word kitsuregoshi, naming his bicycle “Kitsure“, the “Traditional Japan Bicycle.” He says the lattice panel can be popped out like a shoji sliding door, so it’s possible for a different design to be mounted in its place in future.

And it’s not just the lattice section that’s impressive, as the entire frame of the bicycle was also made from scratch and melded together to make his vision a reality.

While Enji is yet to let everyone know whether he’ll be working towards commercializing the Kitsure in future, there is one way we can see it for now, as the bicycle will be on display at his college’s exhibition for graduating students. Enji is a graduating student at Tokyo College of Cycle Design, a vocational school located in the city’s Shibuya Ward where students study the design, maintenance and building of bicycles.

With Japan recently championing innovative designs like the Walking Bicycle Club, we can only hope Enji’s Kiture will soon become available in stores. We’d love to see these bikes make their way en masse to the streets of Tokyo or Kyoto.