If you’re in to old bikes check out the Japanese Bicycle History Research Club & the intro essay History of the ordinary in Japan by Yukio Ootsu -
Documented information on high wheel bicycles in Japan is extremely scarce. It is quite incomplete and seems quite impossible to prove when the first ordinary appeared in Japan. However it is my life long plan and desire to find out the record. Here are my reports of discoveries at the time being.
Few undated photographs of high wheelers show a proud Japanese participation in the high wheel bicycle era. Actual examples of these bicycles that exist in Japanese museums and a few private collections show a history of both import and domestic blacksmith shop production. The early Ordinaries produced by Japanese blacksmiths locally are apparently at the same step with the world trend of the 1880’s.You can tell it form early woodblock prints.
Judging from the information with dates, one can conclude that the high wheel period in Japan had a span of a decade from 1885 to 1895.
Further information may be discovered by bicycle historians of the other parts of the world. It may come, for example, in the form of an old invoice from London, or, San Francisco showing the shipment of an ordinary to Japan. It may say in a ship’s cargo manifest. Other sources like export and customs documents from the West could easily help pinpoint date of early high wheel shipments to Japan. These, along with many other documented materials could help significantly to my search.
I appreciate my inclusion in this community of bicycle historians’ from all over the world, and, look forward to achieve one unity Bicycle history system some day.
It shall benefit all of us.