Women hand rickshaw pullers in Tokyo

Daily these women run about 20 km. Tourists mostly hire them for sightseeing.

Capital of Japan, Tokyo, one of the world’s most economically developed nations with highly advanced technology is lately seeing a large number of young women taking up the job of “hand pulled rickshaw pullers”.

India had banned hand pulled rickshaws way back in 2006 in West Bengal, particularly Calcutta which had large number of people in this profession to eke out a living.

The hand pulled rickshaws became a part of a Museum item in India.

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Social activists used to speak strongly against this practice, which was seen to be inhuman, exploitative, and denigrating

Rickshaws are commonly believed to have been invented in Japan in the 1860s, at the beginning of a period of rapid technical advancement. In the 19th century, rickshaw pulling became an inexpensive, popular mode of transportation across Asia.

Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other Asian countries are known to have done away with such “lowly and laborious” profession as pulling of rickshaws by the end of the 20th century.

The wooden version of the Japanese rickshaw made its way to Calcutta, the then capital of British India, in the 1890s.

The zamindars (landlords) used to ride palanquins being carried by several men in India.

But today to see women joining the male force of hand pulled rickshaw pullers in Tokyo, we seem to have turned a full circle.

 It is the social media which is spreading the message and leading more and more women in Tokyo join this predominantly male dominated profession.

Primarily taking tourists to several tourist spots in Tokyo in this iconic and unique way of travel has led these Japanese ladies to get wide publicity both nationally and internationally.

By promoting themselves on social media, they get repeat customers who request them personally.

There a are companies who employ them after giving them few months training.

Still there is opposition from family and friends  of ladies to join such a profession of hauling passengers by pulling rickshaw.

Daily these women run about 20 km. Tourists mostly hire them for sightseeing.

Tokyo Rickshaw, which has started training and employing women even gets complaints that  women should not be doing such physically demanding work.

Not only women may face sexual harassment at times, they have to do their duty even in bad weather of severe heat and rain.

The rickshaws weigh up to 250 kg and women have to very strong to ply these rickshaws along with the passenger or passengers.

Tokyo rickshaw company which mainly operates in the Asakusa tourist area has a large proportion of their workforce as women and would like to recruit more women.

Interestingly only around 10 percent of the persons who apply get the job of rickshaw puller in this company.

The most popular drivers make over 1 million yen a month, three times the national average.

College girls are taking up this completely different job.

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