Monday, August 30, 2010

Thoughts on Driving in Japan

While I work on making a tour of our new house, please enjoy my thoughts on driving in Japan!

It’s on the left hand side. And it’s not as hard as it initially sounds. First of all, because the steering wheel is also on opposite side, so you just orient yourself to “driver in the center,” the same as in the USA. The toughest thing for me is constantly reminding myself that my blinker switch is also on the opposite side. I cannot tell you how many times I have turned on the windshield wipers instead of my blinker. But overall, I would say that driving on the left hand side is the easiest part of driving here.

Let me tell you about the really tricky parts.

1. Roads are also places to park. Yeah, just pull as far to side as you can and park your car. Everyone else weaves around you…hopefully.  The great thing is that then not only are you weaving around parked cars and buses, but your also watching for oncoming traffic weaving into your lane to dodge parked vehicles in their lane.  Craziness.

2. Roads are narrower. Which makes #1 a little trickier. At least you car is also narrower.

3. Streets do not have names. Major highways and toll roads have names or numbers , but other than that, good luck. I’ll explain more about this when I explain addresses.

4. Everyone backs into parking spaces. Not quite sure why on this, but it does make getting out pretty easy. It’s just a little tricky to back in when you are used to looking over your right shoulder to reverse because if you do that you just get a nice look at the side of your car.

5. When stopping at signs or stoplights you must actually stop at the line painted on the road (you know how in America even slides forward a couple of feet). Everyone does. It’s amazing.

6. Drive slower...but not really. Speed here is measured in kilometers per hour (go metric system!). But 50 kph, which is a pretty standard speed limit here on major roads, is about 37 mph. Don’t even think about doing 80 mph down the freeway.  But everyone still speeds so I always feel like a slowpoke (aren't you proud, Tiffanie!)

Street Addresses

For example, we live at 1-9-1 Ikegami, Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture Japan (Don’t try and mailing anything to this for 2 reasons; 1. super expensive, 2. it’s not written out properly.)

Kanagawa Prefecture is like a state. Yokosuka is the city we live in, but Ikegami is the neighborhood of the city. And we live in the 1st area of Ikegami, on the 9th street, in the 1st house. Funny thing about the house numbers (and I’m assuming it’s the same with the street numbers), they are assigned according to the order of when they were built. So ours was the first house built on this street. Our neighbors might be house number 12, and the next door down might be number 4. I don’t know. But I pity the postman.

1 comment:

  1. Yes. This makes me very proud. The street addresses kinda remind me of Spain, but house-building order just sounds like craziness. I'm excited for the day i get to come see "house #1 on the street!"