Japanese man runs library on a bicycle


Tokyo : Kazuhiro Doi is on a one-man mission to change the world by pulling a mobile library on a bicycle around Japan.

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For more than two years, the 28-year-old has been distributing books on the environment, civil disputes and other social issues on a custom-made bicycle with a waterwheel-shaped bookshelf across his native Japan.

Doi left his home in the central prefecture of Aichi in January 2005, initially to ask libraries around the country to carry a book published by a non-profit organization ‘Think the Earth’.

The book documents the gravity of environmental destruction with about 100 photographs, including those of a mountain of industrial waste, children injured in a chemical factory accident in India and penguins covered with crude oil.

When Doi first flipped through the pages, he was shocked and moved. “I was slapped by what careless deeds human beings have imposed on Earth,” Doi told Yomiuri Shimbun.

After spending sleepless nights contemplating what he could do, Doi quit his full-time job and began a bicycle journey to Japan’s libraries, but not all libraries have been supportive of Doi’s insistence that they carry the photo book.

He then decided he had to be the library himself. After modifying his bicycle and building his waterwheel bookshelf, Doi began cycling with a library of about 20 books and giving them away to passers-by who show interest in his mission.

It’s a library, but the users need not return the books. Doi said that instead, he hopes the books circulate among friends and in communities so many readers could learn about what is going on in the rest of the world.

Another project he has devised during his travels is to establish book centres.

Doi has been leaving a few books at restaurants, community centres and other social venues if the owners make environmentally friendly changes.

An owner of a ramen noodle joint, for instance, agreed to use reusable chopsticks rather than disposable ones, Doi said on a radio talk show.

After news of his mission began spreading, Doi has been treated to meals or provided accommodation, but he also lands short-term, part-time jobs to buy food and books to distribute.

Doi has so far visited about 1,200 libraries in 13 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. By the time he turns 30, Doi said he hopes to have dropped by all the libraries in the country.