From Toronto to Tokyo with Entrepreneur Daniel Kamiya.
Orontas: What’s your day job?
Daniel Kamiya:I recently left my job in the financial industry to co-establish Athletica Labels and Omi&Rica. It is somewhat of an entrepreneurial project blending my various interests while providing me with improved quality time with my family. Is this a temporary endeavour? Only time will tell.
O: What does a typical day consist of?
DK: In creating a new business, there is not a typical day but the days can be very intense and long. You are the designer, manufacturer, marketing department, sales and finance. You are your own boss and sometimes the boss can be an SOB. Since you never really punch out at the end of the day, and the kids take up most of your spare time, the tough part right now is finding time to get on the bike. I think I better get used to really early morning pre-work rides.
O: Do you commute by bike?
DK: As most places I frequent are close by, I try to complete my errands on two wheels. Given the high population density in Tokyo, bicycles as a means of transportation is ingrained in the local culture.
O: Are you a part of any bike clubs?
DK: I haven’t been an active member of any club since Bicyclesport in Toronto in the early 1990s. I would love to contribute to a local club, especially one that has passionate members sans-attitude and who simply inspire each other to ride, seek out new adventures and have fun.
O: What prompted your move to Japan?
DK: Some people have great stories such as coming here to learn a traditional craft such as making sake or going to keirin school, but my path is more typical where about 10 years ago I was transferred to work at the Tokyo office of my previous financial institution. However, along the way I met a great girl, settled down and decided to extend my time here.
O: How would you describe the bike scene in Tokyo?
DK: It’s pretty crazy. Plenty of bikes, though most are for commuting and are of the “mama-chari” utilitarian variety typically used by housewives to go shopping and shuttle young children around. Single speeds and fixies have caught on and you can frequently see many beautiful legendary keirin bikes. Many people like to customize their bikes and it is really evident that people are very meticulous about it. Clothing plays a big part in their style too. Road riding has really grown tremendously over the past decade with an increase in cycling clubs, recreational riding, touring, and events such as cyclo-sportives spread across the country. However, on the corporate and government side, I would like to see more support for commuting by bicycle, which has strangely been discouraged to date.
O: Where is your favorite place to ride?
DK: I have great memories of climbing Alpe d’Huez in France or Loveland Pass in Colorado, but Japan is truly a hidden treasure. Outside of the Tokyo metropolis, Japan is mountainous country with perfect roads leading to beautiful climbs whether you are in Hokkaido in the far north or Okinawa in the south. Popular areas include Tomin no Mori and Yabitsu Pass in the mountains around Tokyo, Norikura in Nagano or even circumnavigating Sado Island to name a few. It is really difficult to pick any one place.
O: What do you ride?
DK: Like most other riders these days, I have moved on to carbon and typically ride my Cervelo R3. But whether its due to sentimental reasons or simply that titanium never dies, I still maintain my original Merlin Titanium mountain bike and Serotta Colorado Legend Ti road bike from the early 90′s. Other bikes have come and gone but those bikes have some special memories from the early years.