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Thread: I got Summer in Japan

  1. #11
    Jumbo Akai-San's Avatar
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    Brian,
    Looks like I'll be getting a car for our initial base use. Probably take the train every chance I get. Friends have told me that tolls alone will make me think twice about driving to a destination...of course not forgetting to mention the traffic for 12+ million?

    Sorry, I can't speak Japanese....yet. Will it be difficult getting in and around the country?

  2. #12
    Administrator Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akai-San
    Brian,
    Looks like I'll be getting a car for our initial base use. Probably take the train every chance I get. Friends have told me that tolls alone will make me think twice about driving to a destination...of course not forgetting to mention the traffic for 12+ million?

    Sorry, I can't speak Japanese....yet. Will it be difficult getting in and around the country?
    As long as you're not going on the freeway, there aren't any tolls. I always drive up to Niigata when I go, and it still comes out cheaper than the train even adding up tolls and fuel.

    Trains are excellent here for their reliability, but in Tokyo they can run at well over 400% of passenger capacity during rush hours. Nothing like being packed in like sardines on a hot train during summer so badly that you can't even manage to move your hand to wipe the sweat from your brow.

    I wouldn't worry about not speaking Japanese in regards to driving. Many road signs are in English, at least as far as direction and destination or concerned. What you will have to get used to are the roads, the manner of driving, and more than anything...the pedestrians. You absolutely have to watch out for pedestrians and cyclists here, as most of them certainly do not look out for themselves. You'll probably know what I mean after your first week behind the wheel.
    Last edited by Brian; 04-29-2005 at 11:43 PM.
    Brian Sousa
    Koi-Bito Forum

  3. #13
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    Carl:

    Brian jogged my dormant mind...Here's a few more tips:

    1. Few streets in Tokyo have names, only the main thoroughfares most side streets don't have any. So you have to have a map which show all the streets, find a main intersection, the count streets...

    2. House Addresses do not designate where the house is on a given block but rather the order in which the house was built on the block... As an example:

    our address was: 3-21-7 Denen Chofu, Ohta-Ku, Tokyo 145 Japan... As I said above there are few street names so the numbers mean: 7, our home was the 7th built on block 21 which is in the 3rd Chome in the town of Denen Chofu...

    A map will usually tell you where the chomes are... to find the block you have to go to a utility pole and find the numbers 3-21 that tells you you're on the right track, then all you have to do is walk around the block until you find the #7 on the mailbox or home post. So if someone wants you to visit them, they'll usually have a map from the closest train station...

    3. Business cards are must in Japan...In addition, it doesn't hurt to have a family card with the names of your whole family, your address and Ph. Number A map to your home, on the reverse side is also very helpful...Most Expats have them...

    4. Often times English stops at the off ramps of most major highway signs especially in the rural areas. So brush up on you Kanji...

    5. If you drive into Tokyo, there's no on street parking from Mon-Fri. You can only pull over to pick something up, other than that you have to use the department store parking or a pay lot...

    6.Never agree to meet a local (Hawaii born) Japanese girl, who you've never met, at the Hachiko stature at Shibuya Station... There are at least 20K 5'2" Japanese girls at the location, at any given time, meeting friends, and they all look alike... Been there, Done that...

    Good luck! Aloha Ke Akua, Mike

  4. #14
    Jumbo Akai-San's Avatar
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    Thanks Brian & MikeT. I'm sure I will need some break-in time to feel brave enough to venture out. But of course being on my own will be the best time for me to learn "the hard way". That way when the family arrives, I can at least feel safe enough to take them around the main areas. Hell, I'll sleep in the train station if I have to. I hear good things about those cozy rooms...hahaha...

    In any case, we are full of excitement and also plenty scared...but I think this will be A GREAT EXPERIENCE for us all. Not really counting the days yet...SO MUCH to do with our home and moving arragements...I'm sure that once more things start being accomplished, we will get into the swing of things...

    Anymore words of advice out there?

    Aloha,
    Carl

  5. #15
    Sansai Bancherd's Avatar
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    Talking

    Get an international driver license.

    It is a REAL challenge getting a Japanese driver license. I thought I was a fairly good driver but it took me three(3) attempts before I could pass the driving test. I was told that I did well.

  6. #16
    Sansai Doug Ward's Avatar
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    20K Japanese girlz, 5 foot 2..

    ::: calling travel agent ::: cya

  7. #17
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    Carl:

    Bancherd's right...You can get the Int'l licence from AAA at Ala Moana...used one for the two years I lived in Japan...

    Aloha! Mike

  8. #18
    Administrator Brian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T
    Carl:

    Bancherd's right...You can get the Int'l licence from AAA at Ala Moana...used one for the two years I lived in Japan...

    Aloha! Mike
    Japan changed it's regulations with regards to international driver's licenses about 4 years ago. You can only use one of these for a period of 1 year as a resident, and then you have to test for a Japanese driver's license as an international one will no longer be recognized by the authorities.

    As Bancherd points out, passing the road test is painful unless you hail from a country that drives on the left-hand side.
    Brian Sousa
    Koi-Bito Forum

  9. #19
    Jumbo Akai-San's Avatar
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    So, it would probably make sense to establish that one year drivers license from AAA and then get some good experience on the roads before trying to tackle that test. Does that seem reasonable?

    Maybe one year I drive, then one year my wife drive, then we take the test...hows that for stretching it. hahaha...Hopefully, we'll be able to be better versed with the language by then. We'll do our best. Thanks Brian.

  10. #20
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    Carl:

    Here's another one, although you won't be able to take advantage of it on the military base... In the late 90's, there were 46 holidays/year in Japan...These included, golden week which is going on now, Obon in August and a lot of other excuses to skip work...This did not include our regular vacation and home leave, in my case 6 and 4 weeks respectively... Use to drive the bean counters crazy...

    Aloha! Mike

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