*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Just why is Japan an automotive super power?*

Day road trip to Chichibu from Tokyo:
- 250km return
- 13000円 for the rental, and insurance, of a Mazda 5
- 3500円 for the gas
- over 7000円 on tolls

A return trip for an adult would be something like 5000円 on express trains, so only with five adults in the car do those costs become worthwhile: we were three adults, one child  under five, and another under two.  Never mind how tiring the driving was, and never mind how much slower it is than the train, most of the time: I have been in twelve hour traffic-jams twice, both in Japan. I can take the 25% premium over Canada on the cost of the rental and gas per litre, especially as you never drive as far to use much gas.  However, that extra 7000円 on tolls, WTF?

No, in fact the tolls don't bother me.  I'm pro-urban, pro-transit, and better informed than my Canadian compatriots on the real costs of driving, so toll-charge away.  I just can't see why anyone in Japan would own a car if they had any way to avoid it, and they sure have more than North Americans: there is a train network in Japan.  Has to be more than half of Japanese owners do not even commute with them, but leave them parked all week, to drive in traffic jams come days off work, of which they have little flexibility.  This is fun?  This is a status symbol?  This is worth paying how much from your gross income?  In Canada it's more than $9000 annually, on average; it has to be 150% that in Japan with more expensive gasoline and parking, and the additional costs of shaken and tolls.  

Shopping?  This is also a country where you can get anything, from groceries to consumer products to drink delivered to your door on your own schedule, for no more than in store, and often less.

As ever, 'WTF are you thinking, Japan', morphs into, 'Are you fucking thinking, Japan?', into 'You bunch of fucking Deltas, Japan' - electrocuted in the flowerbeds.

Twelve more weeks...

PS: The rental seemed to have some kind of recording device, which was given away by it scolding me, albeit in keigo as if that makes it less annoying, every time I had to brake or swerve more quickly than it liked, to avoid an accident.  I shouldn't be surprised by that, nor that we weren't informed, because the Japanese have never had rights, much less lost theirs as we have.

*The opening made by the shit American automakers were selling in the 70s and 80s, and GM still is.


  1. Yeah I've never understood it. My housemate had a car that he left with his parents in Saitama, so he'd have to commute there to get it before driving. I could understand if you lived in a little town and needed it to go to the supermarket and stuff.

    We manage fine without a car here and the public transport is nowhere near as good as you get in Japan. I'm just too cheap to pay for the keep of a car.

    1. It's pretty stupid in Canada, too, but Japan...

      Living in Kanto just out of university, I lost the habit of wanting a car, and gained the habit of having money in the bank after drinking, travel and paying student loans. When I 'needed' a car in Canada all of the 'freedom' disappeared because there was no money. Fuck that!

      In fact, of the half-dozen Toronto and area cities I've lived in, Montréal, Tokyo and suburban Tokyo, my favourite cities are the in exact rank I least needed a car: Tokyo, Montréal, Toronto, the rest I hate even more than Toronto, which I hate plenty.

  2. Didn't Spike Japan explain why Japan became an automotive superpower a few years back? IIRC he said that basically it was because Japanese manufacturers nailed the killer app of reliability in an era when pretty much everyone else's cars were breaking down, but now Japan has lost that reputation for reliability (BTW, Toyota recalls reached a record in 2012/13), and Korean brands (well, pretty much everyone's brands) have caught up in the reliability game.
    Ahhh, where for art thou Spike?