Swimming Upstream: 30 Day Countdown

Thomas Kreutzer
by Thomas Kreutzer
swimming upstream 30 day countdown

It’s Friday and once again it’s time for an update from Japan where my efforts to get my Town & Country licensed and street legal continue unabated.

Last week’s baby steps have led to modest results. My visit to the local police station netted me a parking permit on Tuesday and, although I am immensely self-satisfied at the results, I am aware that the permit’s issuance has started a 30 day countdown clock. If I cannot complete the entire registration process within that window, I will have to repeat this step of the process.

Naturally, I would rather avoid that.

Additionally, on Thursday, I received a communique from the recycle bureau. Apparently, they are serious about not wasting paper because there was no letter enclosed, only a bill for 15,300 yen (~$125 USD) and instructions on how I to send it. I took care of that first thing on Friday morning with a visit to the post office which, it turns out, doubles as a bank. I simply presented the bill, paid the post office in cash and they handled the rest via wire transfer.

The recycle bureau is supposed to review the account on Monday and mail my certificate out the day after that. If all goes well, this step should be completed by the end of next week.

Meanwhile, I have been sweating the load on the safety inspection I had scheduled for the 26th. While this inspection is not supposed to be a Shaken, it does look to contain all the same tests, and that means they are going to be quite thorough. Naturally, I want to pass it as quickly as possible. So, on Thursday afternoon, I went to the garage to ask a few questions.

Rather than answer my questions, the guys at the garage did me a huge favor and put the T&C on the actual test rig they will use for the inspection. It’s a sophisticated gizmo made up of mirrors, a camera and a moving platform. Once the van was parked in the right position, the results came quickly. My fears were confirmed. The driver’s-side headlight is right on the edge of the zone and borderline illegal while the passenger headlight, which sits on the centerline of the road, aims so far to the right that it shines directly into the eyes of anyone unfortunate enough to cross my path. Bad news to be sure.

Some online research and a quick check under the hood found that the T&C’s headlights are not horizontally adjustable and the lights would, therefore, have to be corrected. More work on the internet showed me two possible ways to do this: One is to put some sort of light redirecting stickers over the lenses and the other was to replace them with the same lights from a right-hand drive version of the van. After thinking it over, I ordered the stickers from Amazon.com and then, after thinking it over some more, I decided to try and source the right-hand drive lights too.

Internet searches for the appropriate lights were mostly futile. After a day’s worth of work, I gave up and drove forty minutes to the nearest Chrysler Jeep dealer in Yokohama — only to find that they were closed on Tuesdays. Unhappily, I returned home and went back to work on the internet where, after hours of work, I was finally able source the lights from the United States of all places. After calling the source in order to verify the claim that the lights were, in fact, equipped with right-hand drive optics, I was — after some research — assured they were right and that they were one of the few export parts that could, for some unknown reason, actually be sent from the United States.

Tonight, about $700 later, I am sitting here, acutely aware that the countdown clock is ticking, hoping the lights arrive before my inspection appointment, which I have now pushed back a week to allow for some added breathing room. Then, once they finally get here, I have only to tear the entire front fascia off the van in order to install them.

Once I am done, however, the van should cruise through its inspection, the final step prior to visiting the LTO one last time and bolting on my plates. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Thomas M. Kreutzer currently lives in Kanagawa, Japan with his wife and three children. He has spent most of his adult life overseas with more than nine years in Japan, two years in Jamaica and almost five years as a U.S. Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. Although originally from Snohomish, WA, he has also lived in several places around the United States including Buffalo, NY and Leavenworth, KS. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast, Kreutzer has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.


[Photo Credit: Headlight testing courtesy of hayakawa-jidousya.com]

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  • -Nate -Nate on Oct 28, 2015

    Fascinating stuff here , good show Thomas . -Nate

  • Luridshadow Luridshadow on Oct 30, 2015

    I got my car two days ago and I have started my JATA paperwork.I will forewarn you about your rear plate.I am trying to sort mine out now because I went to the Toyota dealer and they explained it to me.If you do not have this bracket you can not pass shaken>

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
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