Name/City: Kenji Muto Quiróz | Nagoya, Japan
Type of cycling you do: Fixed gear mostly.
Tell us a little about the cycling culture in Japan: Japan has a vast cycling culture. From Road to Track. Cycling culture is everywhere in Japan. On the streets, at the countless bike shops and even on Japanese comics (Manga). Also Keirin (Japanese track race) has a lot of popularity among old and young people. The olders go to Keirin track to bet on the racers. The youngers go to admire the beautiful hand crafted steel track frames and chromed components. Also, the whole country was projected for riding bicycles, therefore, the average is one bicycle per person in Japan.
What is unique about cycling in Japan?: I think it is the fact that the cities here are projected to ride bicycles and also the respect that drivers has on cyclists. The other interesting thing about riding here is the fact that you don't have to ride much to see a different landscape. You can start your ride inside the city and after a few kilometers you can find yourself in the countryside.
What inspired you to start Barra Forte?: Last time I moved to Japan, I started to ride with my friends Rodolpho and Beto. We were always getting inspirations from everywhere. And ever since that, we had plans to start something that we could express ourselves by riding our fixed gear bikes. And there was nothing like that in Japan at the time. So we started Barra Forte, a result of a mixture of Japanese and Brazilian culture, as we are. And it was great! We got to know people from all around the World. People got interested on what we were doing and it become bigger than we were expecting. It definitely put us on the map.
What do you recommend to a cyclist who is going to Japan?: Japan is definitely a place to come and ride your bike. You can find big cities, mountains, countryside, anything you can imagine. It might be fun to ride in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, but it can be a little bit chaotic. So I really recommend to go to the countryside or smaller cities for a more peaceful ride. There is some cool bike shops in Tokyo and Osaka, like Brotures, Blue Lug and Giracha, also know as the Track Supermarket. Most of people that travels to Japan, and skip going to Nagoya, but I really recommend visiting it. Nagoya has a structure of a big city but it is less chaotic than Tokyo and Osaka, for example. If you decide to visit Nagoya, hit me up and I might show you around! I definitely recommend checking a Keirin track races too. It is very unique and beautiful.
What was it like working with Dosnoventa?: I am very close to the people from Dosnoventa, specially to Dani Melo, the art director. But I don't consider that I worked with them. It is always more like a friend to friend thing. When I went to Barcelona, they treated me very well, showing the city, places to go and eat. Then when they came to Japan it was the same. They are very inspiring to me and I'm glad to have this relationship with them.
Best cycling moment so far?: In 2016 I rode a lot with my friends but one of the rides was absolutely insane, in the best possible way. We did the Shimanami Kaido route, which is the route that connects Japan's main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku. It is an expressway that passes over six small islands. That was the most beautiful sights I've ever seen! The weather was perfect, great company, everything was just perfect. I highly recommend to do this ride, if you have the time. I can't wait to do it again!
What do you love about cycling culture?: Definitely the community. We are like a big family, everyone helps each other, no matter where you are from.
Is there anything you’d like to see improve in the cycling community?: I think the cycling community is on the right track. Everyday we see people giving everything they got to improve on what they love to do. More brands, events, races, teams. Keep it rad, guys!
Future plans?: Ride more, travel more, meet more people. I started taking some photos again and I'm planning to start a blog to show a little bit of my adventures. So stay tuned!