This is Kasuganomichi Station in Kobe, easily one of the narrowest and most dangerous train platforms that you’ll ever see. This video is from a few years back, so lets hope that they’ve made appropriate renovations to ensure everyone’s safety. Because this is a little much. Read the rest of this entry »
Amidst the current economic crisis that has currently hit the world, more and more people are looking towards stretching the value of their dollar. Where vehicles are concern, Honda’s latest hybrid Insight cannot come at a better time. The Insight is the cheapest hybrid car around with a tag price of under 2million Yen, which makes it roughly $21,000 to purchase. The gas-electric hybrid makes for a favorable option as consumers can stretch their gas bills a few miles longer.
But Japan’s No. 2 automaker said demand for the Insight has been so brisk that the company has received more than 5,000 orders, easily beating its monthly target.
“This is so much better than expected. The Insight is priced below 2 million yen, and is energy efficient. We believe consumers like these aspects,” said Honda spokeswoman Natsuno Asanuma.
Even before the launch, Honda had received about 5,000 orders for the Insight, Asanuma said. The Insight goes on sale in April in the U.S., and in March for Europe.
Honda’s Insight is cheaper than Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius, the most popular hybrid, which sells for $22,000 in the U.S. and 2.3 million yen in Japan.
Did you know that you could look up the JR Train’s timetable online?
Some timetables in Japan can be so confusing for a foreigner that getting around may be stalled because of the confusion. There are times when you have to switch trains in different stations, with different colored lines in different times.
But now, you do not need to walk to a station anymore and look at this map:
You can just go to Hyperdia to look at all your JR train’s timetable:)
Fuel prices in Japan is not spared when the barrel goes up in a spike. Prices have reached an all time high since 1987 in Japan, with the 180yen mark hit. Currently, fuel prices in Japan is 182yen per litre shortly after 9am on Thursday last week. Read more.
With the price increase, we should look for other alternatives. Bicycling is a good option. So is walking.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Japan comes out with a car that feeds on purely water and has ball bearings for wheels just like in the movie I,Robot. :) No, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Here are 5 things you can do to save up some money in lieu of the price hike in fuel:
1. Car Pool – when 4 people share the cost of 184yen/liter, it really saves up. Plus, you get meet more people and have meaningful relationships while you are in the car.
2. Public transportation – duh, for obvious reasons. Japan has one of the best public transportation system in the world!
3. Walk, Jog, Run – if your work place is close by, say 15 minutes walk, but all means take it. It is healthy for you and you can save up a lot of money from not driving and treat yourself to a nice dinner or a Gucci bag.
4. Hitch Hike – A lot of people during the 60s and the 70s, hitch hike their way to different states. It saves them a whole ton of money and they might even learn a thing or two during the trip. Carry a pepper spray with you, just in case.
5. Go hybrid – if fuel is expensive, and your need to drive to work, go hybrid or go electric. The earth will thank you. Although hybrid cars are not cheap right now, think about it in the long run, you will save more money this way.
There are few rules about driving in Japan. If you’re a foreigner looking to hit the wheels on the street of Japan, you will need to check out a few things. It is crucial that the international driver’s license from your country is recognized by the Japanese government. The countries where its international license is recognized by Japan are: Belgium, France, Germany and Switzerland. A recognized international driver’s license enables you to drive around Japan for up to 1 year before you have to get a Japanese driver’s license.
However, if you’re not from those four countries, you will need to get a Japanese driver’s license in order to drive in Japan. The process is relatively simple. Japan has an agreement with several countries around the world to ease the conversion to a Japanese Driver’s license. It enables a (valid) foreign driver’s license be converted into a Japanese one without taking any theory or practical exam. The countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
So, if you’re from one of these countries, you are cut out for a Japanese driver’s license :) You just need to get your foreign driver’s license translated into Japanese before taking it to the local license counter. An eye test and proof that you have been living at least 3 months in the country your drivers license was issued and you’re good to go. If you’re not from any of the countries listed above, like United States, China, Singapore, Brazil, Malaysia, Portugal, Spain etc, you will have to take the practical and theory exam to obtain a Japanese Driver’s license.
However, driving within any city in Japan is rather useless because of the highly efficient public transportation that is offered. Most Japanese living near the city or in the city do not own a car OR a driver’s license. But I believe that it is practical to have it with you because you never know when you are going for a spontaneous trip off the beaten tracks :)
Just imagine being able to get step by step directions on your phone on which trains you need to take to get from point A to point B, how long each train takes, the exact waiting time in between transferring trains, the exact arrival time of each train, and how much each leg of the trip is going to cost. Not only do you get directions but among those directions you are given several options varying in accordance to price and the overall travel time. Cheaper ticket but longer travel time, or getting there quickly at the expense of a little extra money—the decision is conveniently presented to you on a screen the size of the palm of your hand. To get an idea of what this service is like, you can check out the full website version of Norikae-Annai (Japanese for “transfer information”).
*Unfortunately, for a lot of the above mobile services I mentioned that I’m aware of and use myself, they are as far as I know only in Japanese. Again, if anyone knows of such services offered in English here in Japan, please drop a comment. Of course, there’s also the option of just learning Japanese… :)
In a movement similar to the early suburbanization of the United States after World War II, a lot of Japanese people—many of whom have kept their jobs in the big city (i.e. Utsunomiya and Tokyo)—have been increasingly opting to move out to places as far as Nishinasuno and Otawara (http://www.answers.com/topic/otawara-tochigi) in search of cheaper living costs, wider spaces, and an escape from the craziness of the city. It sheds a lot of light on the fact that for being such rural areas, there has actually been a lot of expansion, especially in recent years. Keio University did a study about 11 years ago on the suburbanization of Tokyo that captures quite well an emerging trend that again is strikingly similar to what has been going on in the U.S. I apologize to the English-speaking readers that the entire link is in Japanese, but the emphasis is really on the demographic maps that cover population trends in Tokyo over the past 80 years through 1985 (The subject of the study is “The Suburbanization of Tokyo”, or “Tokyo no Kougaika”). The blue colors indicate areas of low population density, red colors indicate areas of high density (the darker the blue, the less people there are, the redder the color, the more concentrated people are). The interesting thing is that as time progresses, it becomes very noticeable that not only are people spreading outward, but so are the population densities. What ultimately is happening is that central Tokyo—residentially speaking—is actually depleting while the outer suburbs are becoming the new areas that are filling up with people. If you want a firsthand sense of how many people that is, just wait until the last train at any major station in Tokyo on the weekend and watch how many people are rushing to catch the last ride back out to the suburbs (i.e. the Den-En-Toshi Line from Shibuya).
The K-Car is Japan’s latest mini car that is both affordable and purposeful. The one featuring is Nissan’s Pino and Otti. For daily things like grocery shopping, picking your kids up from school, driving to and fro work, the K Car just fulfills that purpose.
K-cars (the term comes from kei jidosha, or light vehicle) are very small and cheap to run. By Japanese law, they must be less than 4.4 meters in length and have an engine displacement of no more than 660cc, producing less than 64 horsepower.
While the car is suppose to be a mini K-nomical car, representatives of the cars said that you actually get a lot of space in the car – as it is wide and high, making a lot of space for even the taller people to sit comfortably without crouching like a shrimp. In terms of style, this is where the distinction between the Pino and Otti comes in. The Otti is deemed as “genderless” thus making it more suitable for a more business-like feel. The Pino is funkier and its package specifically targets young women more. The cars go from ¥700,000 and up, which is comparatively cheaper than the rest.
Ha, sometimes when you read about Japan for so long, and after you’ve lived there for a while, the “everyday” things have really become everyday and not strange at all. Then you come home and get asked odd questions and you think “Yeah, of course!” but then you realise that it’s not that normal at all. It’s very Japanese. It just became normal for you.
People are always asking me if it’s true that gasoline comes from the sky in Japan. Yes, it is, they come out of those pumps hanging from the ceiling light, which advertises regular or high-octane gas. And you don’t have to do a thing at the gas station, either, cuz the guys in red do it all for you–fill up your tank, wipe your mirrors, squeegee your windows, and stop oncoming traffic to direct you out of the gas station.
I didn’t drive in Japan so I didn’t think about it too much. I guess that, given the premium they have on space in Japan, this is the only method they can adopt. One thing I did notice about petrol stations in Japan though is that they’re relatively uncommon. Here in Australia, you can find intersections that have petrol stations on three out of the four corners. In Japan, it actually took me a while before I spotted one.
As for the awesome service you receive, well, I’d say that’s not so unusual for a country where you’ll be greeted with “IRRASHAIMASSE!” (Welcome!) each time you enter a store.