Two iconic brands. Three unique bags.
We caught up with Tokyo's iconic Blue Lug bike shop Owner Toshihiro Ashikaga for a conversation about bike culture in Tokyo, the Blue Lug X Chrome bag collaboration, and why bikes, beer and girls are so damn important.
CHROME: What is the Blue Lug philosophy?
TOSHI: Our ultimate goal is to support the cycling community of Tokyo; we hope by doing this we make everyone’s cycling life a little better.
CHROME: What is unique about the shop and staff at Blue Lug?
TOSHI: It sounds kind of funny to say, but our staff at Blue Lug is really one big family. Most of our employees were once loyal customers who eventually joined our team. Whether they were local messengers, or just cycling enthusiasts they are all avidly devoted to the cycling scene and are completely in love with bicycles.
CHROME: How would you describe the bike culture and scene in Tokyo?
TOSHI: Bicycles have been an important part of life in Tokyo for a very long time, however the type of bicycle people ride has changed significantly in recent years. For example, several years ago, like in many other cities, track bikes became exceptionally popular. The track bike phenomenon created a demand for shops like Blue Lug that specialize in unique bicycles. And while track bikes are still popular in Tokyo, the influx of specialty bicycles has increased the local cycling scene’s awareness of the global bicycle culture. Today, people in Tokyo ride everything from fat bikes to cyclocross to mountain bikes, and there always seem to be a great amount of excitement surrounding anything new and unique.
CHROME: What is your favorite route to ride in Tokyo?
TOSHI: By far my favorite ride in Tokyo would have to be through Shinjuku just before dawn. I love this ride because during the day Shinjuku in one of the most densely populated places on the planet, which makes riding a bicycle there nearly impossible. At dawn, however, you are alone with your bicycle. The streets are silent and empty, and the air is cool. You can ride as fast as you like without hesitation, which delivers an overwhelming feeling of tranquility and freedom. In my opinion there’s nothing quite like that sensation, and I would recommend that ride to any bike lover who visits Tokyo.
CHROME: How did the collaboration with Chrome come about?
TOSHI: We have always loved Chrome bags and have carried them in our shops for years. Our appreciation of Chrome was only strengthened as we began to make our own bags and realized just how well made and designed they were. Chrome bags are stylish but also extremely functional, something that every bag maker is, or at least should be, envious of. To show our admiration we humbly offered to collaborate on a bag with Chrome and were honored when they accepted.
CHROME: What were the ideas and main inspiration behind the bag collaboration?
TOSHI: There are a few underlying themes with regards to design of the bag collaboration. The first and most obvious is the blue stitching, which is the official Blue Lug corporation color. The others theme, however, is a little less obvious. At the shop we always like to joke that the most important things in life are girls, bicycles, and beer, and we believe deep down everyone likely feels the same way. So, because we were a little hesitant, or perhaps shy, to say it directly we decided take a slightly more subtle approach and use a mirror image to express our love for girls, bicycles, and beer.
The Blue Lug bag collection is USA Made and comes in three iconic Chrome silhouettes; Sentinel, Sotnik, and Victor. Although developed exclusively for Blue Lug shops in Tokyo, we’ve released a small batch stateside in each of our Chrome Retail HUBs.