Tucked away in a tiny back alley of the Shibuya district of Tokyo, not far from the Meiji shrine, Bonsai Cycle Works is the creation of cyclist and bike builder Hideo Yoshida. Once a student of fashion who then spent years working for a large bike shop in Tokyo, Yoshida finally branched out on his own in 2011. A popular spot for the local lycra set, Bonsai Cycle Works has also gained popularity the world over through Yoshida’s blog and Instagram account.
Hideo Yoshida himself was not in the shop the day I stopped by while visiting Tokyo last week. His wife, Natsuki, an accomplished cyclist herself, was manning the store and café that day. She not only pulls a mean double espresso, but bakes the delicious muffins, sandwiches, and other goodies on offer. As we walked in, there were a couple of gentleman in cycling kits who had obviously stopped by for a coffee post ride.
Known for sporting a bow tie while he works on that brand new Independent Fabrication build for his latest customer, Yoshida’s small but neatly organized workshop sits at the back of the store. The sidewalls are lined with Bonsai Astronautics apparel, the shop team, as well as the latest and greatest gear from Giro, Chris King, and all the extra parts and snacks you might need for your ride. A table at the front of the store is filled with a collection of socks from The Athletic, including the famous PDX carpet version—even in Japan they know socks make the kit.
In addition to building bikes, Yoshida rides. Once a bike messenger in Tokyo, he now races road and cyclocross—supposedly the Bonsai team came in second at the Rapha Gentleman’s race in Kyoto last year.
Bonsai in the Cycle Works context actually means “good rhinoceros” instead of the normal Japanese combination of “tray plantings”—the word for the traditional art form. Yoshida created the name by combining Bon, the French word for good, and Sai, the Japanese word for rhino, now the mascot of the shop and found on all of the shop apparel and accessories.
Worth a visit for a good cup of coffee and a chat if you ever find yourself in the Shibuya area of Tokyo.
Bonsai Bicycle Works ■ Address 151-0051 Sendagaya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 4-11-8 ■ OPEN ~ CLOSE Cafe: 08:30 to 17:00 (Weekdays) 10:00~17:00 (Saturday & Sunday) Cycle Works: 13:00~21:00, closed Wednesday.