Aug 17, 2008

Driving in Japan

First, I need to clear something up with my sis-in-law Chrissy who recently cast dispersions upon my driving skills. (Through veiled references to long-ago harrowing driving experiences.)


I am not a bad driver!

I MAY have been an extremely FAST and DISTRACTED driver with about 12 fender-benders to my name, but that ended at age 18. And I haven't been the cause of an accident since!

(Unless you count the little scraper I got into a few months ago when I side-swiped a telephone pole on a dark, narrow, and twisty street in Rhode Island. But I TOTALLY blame my night blindness and lack of reflector strips on the telephone pole for that one! And there were no other cars involved so it can hardly be considered an "accident" in the strictest sense...right?

And then there was the other little scrape a few weeks later when I tried to squeeze between two large trucks. But that also was also OBVIOUSLY the fault of the trucks, and I'm sure those white lines can be buffed right out!)

So you see, other than those two minor "incidents", and the, uh, follies of my youth, I am a GOOD (If somewhat slow and directionally inept) driver!!!

Just wanted to clear that up.

Now I have a few more questions to answer:

These are for Marissa:

Mars: What did you have to do to get a drivers license?
Me: On Wednesday we went to a class where an instructor talked us through a PowerPoint presentation. We were instructed to take notes. After the lecture, we took a 36 question multiple choice test. Open note, open neighbor. I passed with 100%, thank you very much!

FYI, 40 KPH is the max speed on the entire base. And it's 13 KPH in parking lots. (Don't ask me what KPH stands for or how fast one is!) And stay 20 feet back from school buses. And you can only turn left at a red light if there is a white arrow pointing left. And that only applies on-base. Not off! See how good I am? Oh, and don't forget that the turn signal is on the right hand side and if you mess up and turn on the windshield wipers everyone will know you're a newbie dork.

Did you have to take a drive?
Nope. That was it. We got our license on our way out of the class!

How much English is over there?
Off-base, not a whole heck of a lot that I can tell. Granted, I've only been here 2 weeks so I'm not exactly an expert yet...

Are their menus in English or do people that work at stores speak English?
No and No. So far, off-base, we've gotten by with pointing and saying "domo arigato gozymas" which means (I think) "thank you very much." I had to have my neighbor come to the store with me to point out the "water-based" paint because everything is in Japanese and I wouldn't have been able to find it otherwise. When I went through the check-out, I just handed the lady my credit card, grinned, nodded, said "domo!" and left! (By-the-way, there are only about 15 pre-mixed color choices so options are very limited.)

The base is pretty much all English right?
ACTUALLY, we (the Americans) share the base with the Japanese military. It has something to do with a World War II treaty. (Don't quote me on this. My military history is a little shaky.)

Anyway, so there are some Japanese people living on the base and many of the jobs are filled by local Japanese employees.

But on-base, pretty much every one speaks English. (At least everyone I've spoken to or had dealings with.) And I don't see too many Japanese people shopping at the commissary or BX so I don't know if they have a different store on-base, or if they just prefer going off-base to shop. Or maybe I'm just not very observant? Probably the latter.

Now, I wasn't asking all of these questions because you asked for questions, but I am going to complain that you said Beth was the only one who asked you questions and if you look at my comment, I asked 2 questions!!!! So you have to be my friend too, but I might not want you for my friend since you don't notice my questions! By the way, you pretty much already answered my original questions through your posts.

SORRY MARS! I promise to be a better blogger! Please keep being my friend!

I know there are other (new) questions I'm neglecting, but it's getting late and my brain is getting fuzzy. Soooooo...


Syonara for now!


Anonymous said...

All right my sweet but secretrative daughter. You had how many minor fender benders or "incidents" before age 18? How come I'm just hearing about them now? The only one I recall was your sliding on the ice into the rear of that guy at the bottom of a hill, when the police were called. What about all the others I never seemed to be aware of?

Anyway, good luck driving on the wrong side of the road over there. The advice you received as a child is still good. Look both ways when crossing a street. And now also in your case, when turning into one.
Love, Dad

Sarah Walton said...

Hi Emily! Wow, it looks like you guys are doing great in Japan so far! Getting your driver's license, painting . . . I'm sure you guys will have lots of great adventures there. It'll be fun checking in on you guys!

Linz said...

KPH - Kilometers per hour.

Good job on getting your licence. Was it really open neighbor? That rocks! And, as someone who has driven with you in the past year I will witness that you are a good driver. You are. I felt totally safe!=D

Anonymous said...

Hello.This is first time for me to visit your site.
So you live in Japan now?
I know driving in Japan (especially in big cities) is so hard.I live in Tokyo.
I have three children (6year-old boy,4year-old boy,2year-old girl)
They are angel, sometimes devil, though...
I'm happy if you link to my site.It is written in Japanese(some of the words are English) but show pictures.
baratch family

Anonymous said...

You are darn lucky I don't live by you guys anymore or that hair would be as good as GONE! Fuzz is cute on newborns and baby chicks. I'll send you my clippers.


acte gratuit said...

Gin, I totally think that all the time. ("Good thing Ginger can't get at this!") He's growing a full-on mullet, but it CURLS so I'm rendered helpless!!! I can't cut it!!!

Anonymous said...

You know I am totally kidding. It's adorable, well...he's adorable.

Emily said...

I'm not going to ask you any questions because that is my immature way of pouting about you moving out of the freaking country. Although, I am a little jealous of that horse park, what fun!

So I really DON'T want to know how the boys are adapting or if they've even noticed. I DON'T want to know if you're going to post pics of your house or if you sold your van. And I REALLY don't want to know what church is like there. Ya got that? I DON'T WANT TO ya better tell me! :)

Anonymous said...

We are totally friends still! I just had to laugh at Ginger's comment about the hair! Great memories!

Beeswax said...

None of those nearly 15 incidents could possibly be your at all your fault.Although, I totaled 2 cars before I was 18, and haven't been in even a minor scrape since. And I'm not 19, even though people tell me that all the time (no they don't, but I wish they would).