By on November 5, 2011

I was still a little shook-up from the treatment administered by Matsuda-san, and it must have shown. “Why don’t you get some fresh air?” was the polite Japanese suggestion.

An Infiniti G37 Convertible was the appropriate way to enhance the flow of seaside breeze around my still pale nose. I sat down. Buckled up. Pushed start. Put the 7 speed automatic into drive. Put my hands on the steering wheel. However …

… there was no steering wheel. The spot where they have a steering wheel in countries such as Japan, the UK,  Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, and the U.S. Virgin Islands gave me a nicely appointed, but nonetheless blank stare. I sat in the right place.

But I was slipped an export model, with the steering on the left. Sheepishly, I traded places. Everybody pretended not to have seen.

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20 Comments on “You Know You Have Been In Japan For Too Long, If …...”

  • avatar

    It happens. I also constantly hit the windshield wipers whenever I mean to signal when I switch from LHD to RHD and vice versa.

    • 0 avatar

      Things you do at a subconscious level, without thinking about them: like choosing which side of the car to get into. Or which shoulder to reach over to grab the seat belt.

      Once driving on the left side of the road, I’m fine, though. Apart from an occasional bonus wipe of the windshield, of course, depending on which side of the steering column the manufacturer decided to put the wipers!

    • 0 avatar
      word is bond

      How could you not know I was turning? My windshield wipers were on!

    • 0 avatar

      Reason #221 not to like VW. They don’t see the need to switch the indicator stalk to the other side in RHD cars. Real PITA to downshift and signal with your left hand.

      • 0 avatar

        Evidently, it’s a manufacturer/market thing. The European manufacturers decided to save on costs by not making mirrored stalks for RHDs and the Japanese followed suit for the European market due to the ensuing driver confusion. Most cars manufactured for the RHD market outside of Europe are still right side stalk for RHD, though.

        In East Africa, mostly RHD, you see the occasional Japanese vehicle manufactured for the UK floating around. I once drove a Nissan Terrano that had left side indicators on a RHD. Definitely not a fan of the signal hand being the shifting hand in third world city driving.

        Can’t say I’ve ever reached for the seatbelt on the wrong side.

      • 0 avatar

        Signal11 – I’m confused by what you mean about left-side indicators on an RHD. Can you explain, or is my brain just failing to compute? I’m fully aware that my brain does this fairly often. :)

      • 0 avatar

        Sorry, that’s meant to read “left hand indicator stalk on a RHD.”

      • 0 avatar

        Sorry, try reading it “left hand indicator stalk on a RHD.”

  • avatar

    I’m actually a big fan of red interiors with the correct exterior color, but maroon is not the correct exterior color.

  • avatar

    Hey, it happens, I don’t have LHD/RHD stories but when I drive Mom’s car, I forget her lights are on the turn signal stalk, the wipers are on the right.

    My 92 Ford Ranger has a push/pull light switch on the dash, the wipers are on the turn signal stalk.

    Thus, it’s easy to flip on/off the lights when in Mom’s car when I need the wipers…

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve done something similar in my wife’s car – I’ve never had a car with the right hand stalk so I’m not used to that space being filled. I’ve caught the stalk when turning or what not and activated the wipers.
      On the dry windshield.

  • avatar

    You can be forgiven as a result of the nausea induced by that color combination.

  • avatar

    “Infiniti” with an “i” not a “y”, even though the pathetic launch campaign in 1989 made you think that the commercials were neverending…

  • avatar

    yeah that color combo is odd. i feel like that deep red needs like a tan or even a brown. that red interior would look great with a black, white, or even silver body.

    i love that nissan takes risks with their products. they could just try to make more toyotas, and they don’t. *cough* honda

    • 0 avatar

      Indeed, my thought was that something needs to be black – either the seats or the paint. A tan/brown interior would work as well, and you’re right – bright red only works with neutral colours, equally bright reds, or perhaps the right blue.

  • avatar

    My truck has a column shift, my wife’s car has a console shifter. Many times I hop in her car and yank down on the windshield wiper stalk trying to get it in gear. And to think I’ve just recently broke my habit of stomping my left foot on the floor when trying to start the car and realizing there’s no clutch pedal.

  • avatar

    When I visited the US Virgin Islands, all the cars I saw were US-spec left-hand-drive. You just drove on the left side of the road.

    A few minutes of googling reveals that you can probably import a RHD car, but I have to wonder how many residents have bothered to do so.

  • avatar

    My 2004 G35 is an ergonomic nightmare. Even though they moved the steering wheel to the left side, all of the controls on the center stack are oriented towards the right. For example, the volume for the stereo and the temp button for the climate control are on the right side of their respective systems.

    I knew it was this way when I bought it but went ahead with the purchase anyway. It makes the car “quirky” like a Japanese Saab. Without the comfy seats…

  • avatar

    I also have had my shares of LHD and RHD cars (respectively 3 and 1 currently) and i frequently open the passenger door, or drive on the wrong side of the road… But you can’t match the French cars. They don’t change most stuff … My RHD Clio has the bonnet release on the passenger side (close to the door) same for the seatbelt warning light (at the left of the satnav screen, so on the passenger side), the handbrake is closer to the passenger seat too (they squeezed the cruise control main switch there). Plenty little details, but at least the wipers are wiping from left to right, unlike the previous model!

  • avatar

    Every so often when walking out to the car my wife, who is Japanese, goes and stands next to the driver’s door. (I was going to write “my Japanese wife”, but that sounded like I had multiple wives of different nationalities).

    I say, “Oh, are you going to drive?”

    She says: “matigaetta.” (whoops- wrong side.)

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