This unusual form of transport is widespread in many Asian countries. In Japanese, the word "jinrikisha", which the Europeans transformed into "rickshaw", consists of three hieroglyphs that mean "man", "strength" and "carriage." A very accurate designation, because a rickshaw is a person pulling a cart with a load or passengers.
When such a transport appeared, no one can say for sure. There is an assumption that in the sixties of the XIX century, the American Baptist priest Jonothan Goble, who lived in the Japanese city of Yokohama, drove his sick wife in a carriage around the city. It was thanks to Goble that this method soon became popular.
Europeans may object by recalling that such carts were used in Paris much earlier, in the 18th century. They can be seen in the paintings of the artists of that time. For example, one of the canvases by the French artist and engraver Claude Gillot is called "The Meeting of Two Carts." The painting was painted in 1707, and it shows two Frenchmen pulling carts with passengers.
True, there is documentary evidence that in 1870, three enterprising Japanese - Kosuke Takayama, Yosuke Izumi and Tokujiro Suzuki - received official permission, giving the right to manufacture and sell carts for rickshaws. Perhaps they can be considered the ones who put this case, as they say, on a grand scale.
Gradually, rickshaws became popular not only in Japan, but also in India, China, Hong Kong and other Asian countries. This way of getting around was cheap and affordable. And the large number of poor people in the cities, ready to harness themselves to shafts for a small fee, led to the fact that there was no shortage of labor.
The endurance of rickshaws could have been the envy of even professional marathon runners. In one day, such a taxi man ran from 25 to 50 kilometers. At the same time, most of them never managed to get out of poverty. They had to spend the night right on the street or in cheap shelters.
The appearance of the car, of course, seriously hit the income of rickshaws, especially since they barely made ends meet before. For example, in Japan, in the first thirty years of the twentieth century, the number of rickshaws decreased by almost twenty times. In addition, the governments of many countries considered this type of travel unhuman and imposed bans on the use of rickshaw cabs. For example, in China, such a ban was issued back in 1949. And in 1982, in the Indian state of West Bengal, a major "special operation" was even carried out to destroy carts. In a few days, more than 1, 000 carts were found at the dump.
But this does not mean that now rickshaws can no longer be seen on the streets of Asian countries. Somewhere this way of transportation is a great way to lure tourists. And some poor people ignore prohibitions just because they have no other way to somehow feed themselves and their families. By the way, during the rainy season, when there is a real flood on the streets of many cities in India and the movement of cars is almost impossible, the authorities involuntarily have to turn to rickshaws for help.
During the Soviet era, Soviet merchant sailors often visited Asian countries. Before being sent abroad, they were instructed. For example, they were strongly discouraged from using rickshaw services. It was believed that for a person from the country of victorious socialism, such a method of travel was unacceptable.