Japanese Occupation rickshaw driver licence

This is a rickshaw driver licence with the number ‘3437’ issued during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. The rickshaw is a hand-drawn, two-wheeled carriage believed to be invented in Japan around 1869, where it was known as the ‘jinrikisha’, which literally means ‘man-powered carriage’. First imported into Singapore from Shanghai in 1880, the early jinrickshaws (as they were then called) were of poor quality with iron-rimmed wheels and double-seated carriages made of pine wood. Subsequent batches imported from Japan were of similar quality and it was only in 1904 that first-class single-seated rickshaws with rubber-cushioned wheels were introduced, completely replacing the iron-wheeled double-seaters by 1919. Rickshaw pullers were usually barefooted Chinese immigrants from Fujian province who wore conical hats with flat brims. They often solicited for passengers around the Jinrickshaw Station at the junction of Neil Road and Tanjong Pagar, which also served as the registration centre for rickshaws until they were phased out in 1947 and replaced by the bicycle-drawn carriages known as ‘trishaws’.