By on March 9, 2016

Kreutzer JDM Supra

A few weeks ago, one of TTAC’s Best and Brightest asked for my thoughts on driving in Japan. It’s not the first time the topic has come up. There were several comments in response to the series that documented the importation of my Town & Country, but I’ve been content to avoid the subject up ’til now.

I’d like to say I’ve abstained explaining driving in Japan because I believe my silence fosters discussion. But there’s a truer reason: I dread the scrutiny that follows any article about Japan. I know from hard experience that every westerner who has ever set foot in the country is an expert on every subject, and they will come out of the woodwork to dispute everything I say.

Don’t believe me? Wait and see.

I should probably begin by listing my bona-fides. I took up permanent residence in Japan in the spring of 1999. I bought a motorcycle less than a month after I landed and spent more money on a 2.0-liter twin-turbo Supra a couple of months later. I used them almost every day until I returned to the U.S. late in 2001.

The summer of 2003 found me back in Japan with a U.S. market, left-hand-drive Volkswagen Golf. I used the car mostly on the weekends. To supplement my time on the road, I also took on the role of designated driver for the Mitsubishi Delica my employer used as an employee shuttle. Life happened and I picked up a Suzuki GSXR 1100, then a Japanese Domestic Market Mazda MPV after moving to Okinawa in 2006. By the time I returned home in the summer of 2009, I had built up a record of almost six years of daily, accident free driving. The rest you probably know: After 5 years stateside, the family and I returned to Japan in July 2015. We bought our Honda Mobilio about two weeks after that, and the Town & Country arrived ashore in September.

I am not a trained driving instructor, but I have given the subject a great deal of thought over the years. New drivers, I think, face two challenges. The first is the learning equipment: understanding the controls and the ways in which a vehicle responds when you hit the gas or push on the brake pedal. We all had to learn these when we first started, but they become so familiar to us over time that it’s easy to forget where we began. If you think back to the first time you behind a wheel, however, you can remember how odd it felt. It’s almost exactly the same when you switch from left-hand to right-hand drive.

Some things are the same of course: pedal placement, shift patterns, the feel of the car as you accelerate and brake. Other things are slightly different, such as the location of the blinker stalk and other controls. Each of these difference takes some time and attention to wrap your head around. While you remain focused on them, you are vulnerable.

Honda Mobilio interior, Image: © 2016 Thomas Kreutzer/The Truth About Cars

That’s because, while you are working to master basic vehicle operation, you must also face the second challenge: mastering defensive driving. You can, of course, learn the basics of traffic law by studying an English translation of the Japanese driving manual, but it takes time to learn the ins-and-outs of daily driving. Until this becomes second nature, there can be no “autopilot.” You can’t take a moment to fiddle with the radio or unwrap a piece of candy. You have to stay focused and have your head in the game at all times. That’s damn difficult.

Over the years, I’ve used different tricks to focus on the task at hand and foot. I started by performing certain exercises that coaches teach to get you into the game: I visualized success, practiced the motions and did a lot of “pretending.” I’ve made it a habit to walk like I drive, along the left side of the sidewalk with special attention to forcing myself to think about moving to the left when I rounded street corners. I watch what cars do while I walk and, on those few occasions where I ride with someone else, try to read the traffic as though I’m the driver. These are baby steps. But when you think back to when you were a teen learning to drive, you will realize you probably did similar mental and physical training routines. They actually work.

Kreutzer yokohama

Reading the road is especially important, and I’ve come to believe that driving safely in Japan requires one to focus more than on just what lies ahead. You need to have almost 360-degree awareness. You need to watch for parked cars in your own lane and the opposite lane because a stopped vehicle might cause an oncoming car to drive into your lane. Japanese drivers think nothing of squeezing over, and you can damn well bet that they will intrude into your lane fully expecting you’ll yield.

You also need to watch for scooters and motorcycles coming up from behind and try not to make any sudden stops or moves while they’re around. They get incredibly close, and I have been told the Japanese police will generally fault the driver of the car in the event of a collision. Also, you need to leave enough space for bikes to get through when you stop at a signal. I suppose, technically, you don’t have to, but you learn that a few extra inches will spare the sides of your car after watching cyclists squeeze by again and again. Leaving a gap is cheap insurance and it only takes a second of your time.

The roads, too, are a challenge. While I have come to the conclusion that the lanes are essentially the same size as the ones we have in the U.S,, runoff in Japan is more limited. There simply is no margin for error. If you drift too far to the left, you are on the curb or up against a guardrail. If you drift too far to the right, you are in oncoming traffic. That makes knowing exactly where you are on the road incredibly important. My own personal trick is to aim the mirrors a little lower than usual so I can see markings on the roadway stream out behind the car. Of course, I sacrifice the ability to see very far behind me, but the speeds here are low and, like everything, you eventually get used to it.

Chrysler Town & Country, Image: © 2016 Thomas Kreutzer/The Truth About Cars

Once you master these aspects, driving in Japan is not crazy hard. The Town & Country is a little wider but is not much bigger than many other vehicles on the Japanese roads. Other than tracking the activities of the cars, bikes and people around me, my greatest concern is ensuring that I have pulled far enough forward that I don’t clip a wall or pole when I make a sharp turn into a narrow alley. My trick for lane positioning applies to turn-ins, too, and relies upon the side mirror. I just pull ahead and watch the object while I turn making adjustments as I go. It’s not hard and I think it must be similar to what gets taught in trucking school. There’s a reason why mirrors on big rigs are so large; they use them all the time.

Beyond that, I try not to get stressed out over my personal space, which tends to be magnified when another person gets behind the wheel. And I try not to worry about scratches or dings; they’re bound to happen in any tight, urban environment, so it’s better to not sweat them. I also do my best to quash my aggressive tendencies, like the impulse to slam the door on someone who I know is working their way into a position to cut in front of me. I’ve come to realize that it just doesn’t matter. We’re all going to end up at a stoplight together a block down the road, so slow and easy have become my watchwords. The last thing I want to do is kill or injure someone. That’s probably pretty good advice no matter where you drive, come to think of it. It’s a lesson you don’t need to cross the date line to learn, just be nice out there and you’ll do well no matter where you live.

Streets in Kyoto, Japan, Image: © 2016 Thomas Kreutzer/The Truth About Cars

[Images: © 2016 Thomas Kreutzer/The Truth About Cars]

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47 Comments on “Mirror Mirror: Reflections on Driving in Japan...”

  • avatar

    Sounds much harder than driving in Korea. The worst thing there is the lack of respect you get if you’re in a small/cheap car, and the relative inexperience of the entire country in driving. You eventually just realize everyone is sort of driving like back in drivers ed, and adjust your expectations accordingly.

    And left turns. You usually have to go past where you want to go, make a U-turn in the U-turn lane, and then make a right. Very practical.

    Oh, and awful SK car I owned, 97 Daewoo Lanos, 3-spd auto. No airbags and one power mirror, and power windows up front only.

    • 0 avatar

      RE: Left turns – they have those all over in Michigan – called a “Michigan Left”. :)

      • 0 avatar

        Is it supposed to help traffic? Or save space for intersections which are too tight for a dedicated turn lane?

        • 0 avatar

          Eliminating turns across traffic reduces congestion and improves safety. Michigan lefts and roundabouts have this in common.

          • 0 avatar

            The roundabouts increase traffic in places where people don’t understand how to use them, like Ohio. It’s annoying when they build a new shopping area with one, as people tend to try and take the straightest path across as possible, rather than circling appropriately.

          • 0 avatar

            There have been studies of roundabouts in the US, and they work just fine here, even if some people are confused by them.

    • 0 avatar

      IMO, if you’re used to switching between LHD and RHD, Japan is a much easier, much more pleasant place to drive, for no other reason than the average Japanese driver takes driving more seriously and is more inclined to obey the rules.

  • avatar

    ” I know from hard experience that every westerner who has ever set foot in the country is an expert on every subject, and they will come out of the woodwork to dispute everything I say.”

    No they won’t.

    • 0 avatar

      I wish I could agree with you, …m…, but having actually been to Tokyo for nearly a week, I think I am the ultimate authority, so you can believe me when I tell you that everything Thomas wrote is complete nonsense.

      Kidding – nice article, Thomas – thank you!

  • avatar

    Having been to Japan 7 or 8 times my hat is off to you, Thomas. I would not want to drive there. I did drive for about 3 days in the UK once upon a long ago and no one was injured–a minor miracle.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. I’ve been to Okinawa and Japan numerous times over the decades because my oldest son lived and worked there at the time, but I never warmed up to driving in Japan, and am totally grossed out by riding the trains.

      If you have to live and work in Japan, buy a local used car and learn to drive. Then when you return stateside, learn to drive all over again.

      It was a lot of fun in 1967 when I went there on R&R and spent most of my time at Camp Zama, Tachikawa AB, Yokosuka NB, and walking the Ginza, but that was vacation, not living there as the daily grind.

      • 0 avatar

        “am totally grossed out by riding the trains”

        I’m curious, is this an aversion to trains generally or Japanese trains in particular? I don’t have strong memories of the few Japanese trains I rode, but I don’t recall anything untoward.

        The lack of pictorial or foreign-language signage in the metropolis known as Tokyo Station, on the other hand, is a whole ‘nother story.

        • 0 avatar

          ect wrote, ” is this an aversion to trains generally or Japanese trains in particular?”

          Not a “general aversion to riding the trains” but “grossed out in particular by riding the trains in Japan and NYC, US of A.”

          There were times when I was in Japan visiting my son that riding the trains was simpler and quicker to get to and from where we were going. In each instance, the trains were packed with people like sardines in a can.

          While visiting my brother in NYC we went to a subway series baseball game. The subway ride was actually worse than the train rides in Japan because many of the riders in NYC smelled bad – and that was before the game. It was worse after the game, going home. I thought I was going to hurl but fought it off successfully.

          I took several cross-country AmTrak rides and we liked that pretty much, especially the one that started in Hoboken, NJ, went by way of Chicago, Albuquerque, LA and then south to San Diego, CA. And the one from San Diego North&South along the Coast line.

          Scenic. Clean. Comfortable. Excellent food and drink. Very affordable. Would do it again. Truly enjoyable! I recommend it.

          Hope to take the Alaska/Canada/USA summer train ride one of these trips.

          • 0 avatar

            shortened version: people different from me have odd customs and smell bad.

          • 0 avatar

            Those damn smelly yankees!

            I can relate to HDC on this one. As a “privileged” white male who grew up wearing clean clothes and bathing regularly, I am repulsed by those who still consider those things a luxury to be enjoyed infrequently. Around here, that’s usually new immigrants and the elderly. I also grew up in an area of low population density, and don’t like being packed tightly among strangers.

            I’d rather walk a few hours than ride a bus.

          • 0 avatar

            If you go to Japan you need to accept that you are in a different country. A very crowded one.

            Of course the trains are crowded. Get over it. Applying the same concepts of personal space to the western US and Japan is bound to make you unhappy.

            Same thing with Americans who blow about how godawful expensive meals are in Japan. Yes, if you insist on a big steak and potatoes with every meal… Not so much if you eat the way the locals do.

            I have known a few Americans who lived and worked in Japan (my experience was over many many business trips) and none of them bothered to buy cars and drive. Lots of Japanese don’t own cars, either.

    • 0 avatar

      My relief driving in Hawaii. Not feeling comfortable driving

      • 0 avatar

        RR, wrong side of the road?

        We have always tried to rent a 4×4 Jeep Wrangler when spending time in Hawaii, no matter which island we’re on.

        In fact, with the excellent and affordable ferry system, there was a time when we went island-hopping and took the $199 per week rent-a-Wrangler along with us.

        It was fun. Didn’t cost much IMO, and was cheaper than the $79.95 per day 2WD econobox car rentals at the destination island that couldn’t go off the paved roads and onto beach sand for fear of sinking up to their hubs.

        • 0 avatar

          Found it very disconcerting ,as everything is in reverse when driving. eg overtaking lanes
          Definitely wrong side of the road for me, could not wait to get back to driving RHD again. Needed my wife as a lookout, so I would not swipe a line of bicycle riders ascending a hill in Maui

          • 0 avatar

            LOL! I know exactly what you mean. In 1973 we drove from Heidelberg to Calais and took the ferry over to Dover for a sightseer in Merry Old England.

            I was driving my 1972 Olds Custom Cruiser stationwagon Yank Tank, filled with 9 bodies, including mine. Loaded, with luggage on top. Got pics of it.

            Wadda difference driving in England!

            But all’s well that ends well. I didn’t kill anybody.

            Got many glaring stares in the traffic circles and the occasional “up yours” finger to the head, but other than that, other drivers stayed out of my way.

  • avatar

    Speaking of “personal space” I have heard that riding the subways in Japan is more than a little daunting.

    • 0 avatar

      I think America in general has a very high expectation of personal space. Other countries don’t have that. You can get close and/or move past in too little space.

      Notice if you’re at the grocery store, how people who are from other countries get too close to you in the aisle, or don’t move out of the way for you to pass. Get close and push through is the order of the day.

      Personal space and widespread deodorant use – things you miss when you’re in other countries.

    • 0 avatar

      What is this “personal space” thing you’re talking about? Station staff in Japan have been known to push people into trains, and if you’re a woman chances are you will have a creeper behind you at one point or another.

  • avatar

    I found my biggest problem when driving in England was that when no other cars were around, I naturally picked the right lane, So the sidewalk walking lesson is a good idea. I was worried about driving in NZ when I make my retirement road trip, but saw a Top Gear where the words “Keep Left” were in large letters on the Dash in Jeremy’s rental car.

    Thanks for the article. Is the tunnel picture swapped?

    • 0 avatar

      No, but it sure looks like it is, doesn’t it?

      It’s taken from behind the wheel of the Chrysler sitting in the fast lane of a divided local road. The tunnel heading the other way is about a 100 yards to my right.

      • 0 avatar
        Piston Slap Yo Mama

        I nearly bought the farm many times while living in Japan as a pedestrian – I’d robotically look left then right when crossing a street. That’s fine in America, but in Japan it means you’re stepping in front of a speeding car before you swivel your noggin’ and leap backwards in terror. Or die. The ‘sidewalk lesson’ is a good mnemonic.

    • 0 avatar

      The keep left thing relatively recent due to a lot of head on collisions caused by tourists.

  • avatar

    When I drove in Australia for the first time I felt completely clueless. It’s very humbling. The turn signal definitely was the hardest thing to get used too. By the end of day two I started to feel comfortable, but other than the side of the road, Australian roads are more similar to US roads than Japan. I would have to be very careful and probably start somewhere in the country.

  • avatar

    I had the pleasure to drive about 1,000 miles in Japan during the course of a two week vacation over there in 2013. Many people advised against the idea and tried to persuade me to take the fantastic public transit. Thier idea was probably smarter, and we did use a lot of the public transit within the cities, however, I wanted to try driving there and make it an experience. Before the trip, I did question my decision.

    Finding a rental car was tough. Big names like Hertz or Alamo are non-existent. The car manufacturers themselves run most of the rental agencies, which is a smart way for folks to test drive a car. All of their sites were in Japansese and were not upfront on pricing. Only Times Rent A Car (ran by Mazda I believe) had the option to book in English and had upfront pricing.

    Our first rental was right in the heart of Tokyo in Shinjuku. Way not jump feet first? It was a Mazda AZ Wagon, and Thomas is right, driving on the left on the right side of the car feels almost dyslexic. Luckily, I’ve driven enough in Australia enough over the years to know what to expect with the swap.

    It really wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Like in the article, bicylists and motorcycles are everywhere and it’s important to be alert for them at all times.

    The country roads are a lot narrower and many have a deep gutter alongside that I’d hate to get my left wheels in. Otherwise, the other big challenge was that the two rental cars we had were equipped with navigation, and the rental agency had set the destination to be the rental agency as a courtesy. So, driving away, the navigation was continually resetting itself and was probably asking us to turn around. I say “probably” because it was in Japanese, and we couldn’t turn it off in the first car. We had to turn the whole stereo/infotainment off and drive in silence.

    As a whole, the driving expereince was among the most pleasant I’d ever had driving all around the world. Drivers are extremely courteous. They “thank you” on the road by flashing their hazard lights briefly, and turn on solely their parking lights at a red light at night to not blind the driver in front. There was no road rage. No aggression I experienced. The scenery was beautiful and the roads well kept. The signage was also very good, and directional signs were in English as well as Japanese

    Some of the residential streets are centuries old and even our JDM Mazda and Suzukis were tough to navigate between obstacles. A “large” car like a Corolla or Civic would get wedged.

    We drove through major cities, busy highways, and country roads, and the drivers were not bad. I absolutely loved it, and am so glad we did it.

    PS My profile image is of the Mazda AZ Wagon

  • avatar

    I’ve driven on the left in several countries, although not Japan. I didn’t find it difficult, but my primary challenge was not having a good sense of exactly where the passenger side of the car is, so I had to adjust accordingly. (When lanes are narrow, that is especially important.)

    The hardest was NZ, but that was due to an oddball right-of-way rule that they have at intersections that encourages some rather bombastic turns across traffic. (Cars turning right — across traffic — have priority over cars turning left along the curb, which is exactly backwards from the rest of the world.) Didn’t spend enough time driving there to get used to that.

    • 0 avatar

      Different to Australia and annoying. They are putting in more smaller roundabouts, that get rid of those intersections

    • 0 avatar

      The only place I’ve driven on the left is the US. After New England Patriot games, one lane is taken from the “left” side of Route 1 to increase the number of lanes outbound from the stadium. It starts near Route 495 south of Gillette Stadium to where it intersects Route 95 North of the Stadium.

      The northbound section is pretty easy since Route one has a barrier along that particular segment that gives it the feel of a normal two lane road. The southbound direction from the stadium to Route 495 is a different story. Just a double yellow line. Drivers cross the double yellow lines, there are intermittent traffic islands, and there are direction arrows painted on the pavement in the opposite direction you are traveling. Then you’re hoping you haven’t gone past the point of reverse direction travel. I’d love to see how an autonomous car would handle this.

    • 0 avatar

      They have gotten rid of that rule now.

  • avatar

    There have been some classic American cars imported to Japan, such as the 1959 Cadillac. How on earth are they driven there? Or do they just sit in a museum?

    • 0 avatar

      “How on earth are they driven there? Or do they just sit in a museum?”

      It’s not that bad, actually. They’ll go anywhere you can drive a 15 passenger van. Parking might take some extra creativity, but that’s no different than in any major US city or beach community.

  • avatar

    How does the Right to Left switch over work out on the motorcycle? I would think it might be a little easier to run around japan on a bike. I assume the controls are standard?

    • 0 avatar

      I had about 15 years of motorcycle experience when I landed in Japan in 99. I had the operation part down cold so I was mostly concerned with the rules of the road and defensive driving.

      I did spend a lot of time teaching myself to “go left” and generally did a good job of sticking to that. The only time I failed to do so was on a narrow road in my own neighborhood at very low speed. I came around a corner and was surprised by a small delivery van, also moving slowly.

      I went to the right and although it wasn’t even a close call I realized I’d screwed up. When I thought about what could have happened, it scared me enough that I never made the mistake again.

      • 0 avatar

        I made this same mistake shortly after I got my bike here, except it was a 5-series and the driver gave me a real “WTF are you doing?!” look. After a while I got used to it, but general staying far left and splitting took time to get used to.

  • avatar

    Thanks for sharing your JDMMMMM!!!! experience.

    I’ve spent some time driving in Hong Kong. While the drivers there are generally on the level of LA/NY’s finest aggro, they are generally rather good about signalling.

    By far the scariest thing for me is navigating the parking garages–the ramps leave you no turning room. You learn to start the turn as wide as possible and rely on the mirrors to see if you’ll scrape. This is exacerbated by lack of familiarity with the RHD sense of vehicle dimensions.

    The second most disconcerting aspect of driving in Hong Kong is the wall of double-decker buses that block your view in every important direction. Not inherently dangerous in itself, but it takes some caution and can feel claustrophobic. Also a bad thing if you are lost.

    In addition to a fantastic network of grade-separated pedestrian walkways, peds also do not have crossing priority except at a traffic light. That’s one less burden on drivers, but the flip side is HK has its share of gruesome pedestrian casualties from out-of-control vehicles.

    Also, the place is infested with roundabouts and piss-poor signage that point to vague “districts” rather than actual road names. I had a similar impression of Japan regarding signage.

  • avatar

    Refused to drive last time I went to the UK. Habits too engrained driving on the right to spend half the vacation time concentrating on driving to the left. Screw that.

    Time before that, my pal made me drive his English car when we went to the continent. Now there’s a freakout. Arrive in Blighty, spend three days being chauffered on the left, get off the ferry in Ostend, and pilot a RHD English car driving on the right on throughways and tight spots with unfamilar foreign language signs. Developed a nervous tic and went completely off me grub for a day or two.

    Great article, well crafted and logical, Mr Kreuzer.

  • avatar

    Fascinating article.

    I’ve had two experiences on the left–one on a bicycle, around Cambridge, England, when I was 12, and another driving a left-hand drive car (Simca) around Great Britain, in ’71, when I was 18. I had absolutely no problem either time, which I attribute to my youth, my love of cycling and driving, and the fact that I saw it as an interesting, fun experience. I’m inclined to think I’d have a more difficult time of it now, but I’m not sure.

    Before I learned to drive–from around the age of six–I did the sort of practice Tom describes, sitting in the drivers seat, playing the gears and the wheel. I also very carefully watched how my father and other people drove (I picked up a couple of safety-related tricks from my Uncle Al long before I was legal). All that probably contributed to my ease riding and driving on the left.

  • avatar

    ‘Mirror, Mirror’ – is the title a reference to the mirror universe in StarTrek? :)

    And speaking of mirrors:

    “That makes knowing exactly where you are on the road incredibly important. My own personal trick is to aim the mirrors a little lower than usual so I can see markings on the roadway stream out behind the car.”

    When driving in NYC’s FDR Drive or in tight parking lots, I, too, prefer to aim the mirrors to give me some sense of where I am on the road. You need to dodge garbage, debris, and pot holes with minimum movement. This is also my answer to the sanctimonious “if you adjust your mirrors properly, you don’t have any blind spots. Turning your head = fail!”

    Thanks Thomas for posting this. I liked the tips about mental exercises as I may be driving in England this summer. I know, that’s a different mirror universe.

  • avatar

    Currently live in the traffic fatality capital of Japan (Aichi) and people drive like total jackasses here. Not sure about up in Kanagawa, but its pretty common practice here to go about 30-50 kph over the speed limit, regardless of area, and to ride the person in front of you’s ass and then slam on the brakes as hard as possible at every stop. Also, being on a smaller, not particularly high power motorcycle will lead to lots of people passing and or aggressively driving too close to your back and then blowing past at double the speed limit. This is amplified if you are riding a road bicycle on the road as the law states.

    Bicycles are a completely different thing here though. Thomas is right in that you must constantly be watching for them, even if you are just walking down the sidewalk. Most mamachari riders DGAF about the laws and do stupid things like ride against traffic late at night around blind corners without their headlight on, or chat on their phone while smoking a cigarette and holding an umbrella and wearing heels.

  • avatar

    “I dread the scrutiny that follows any article about Japan. I know from hard experience that every westerner who has ever set foot in the country is an expert on every subject, and they will come out of the woodwork to dispute everything I say.”

    As an American of Korean and Japanese heritage who is in and out of Korea and Japan, speaks one of the language with native proficiency and the other somewhat fluently, I find it absolutely fascinating when Westerners who’ve lived in a given East Asian country for a few years know all there is to know about the country when they can barely string enough words together to order a meal at a restaurant, can’t fill out simple paperwork without assistance, could never call a business to ask for directions on how to get there or even string a single grammatically correct compound sentence together.

    Every time I hear an English teacher flap their gums about “blood money” regarding traffic accidents without understanding that the civil/criminal legal system is fundamentally different from English common law after having lived in the country for 5-10 years, I want to reach across and slap them.

    But yeah, nice article Thomas.

    That said, maybe you should preface this where you lived – most westerners who buy cars do so because they are living in rural areas without access to good public transportation networks, which certainly puts a slant on driving styles. In the country or in rural provincial towns, there are a completely different set of mores. I’ve been in cars with Japanese at a red light in the middle of the night in Saitama and the guy from the country says, “Just turn here now.” “Don’t be an idiot, this is Tokyo, not Kyushu.”

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a little late to preface the article now that its up but my first 2.5 years or so were spent in Uji, a city just south of Kyoto. It really wasn’t the big city, but it is more urban that most places in the States.

      My second time living in Japan, when I drove the work van, I lived near Kobe but drove into downtown Osaka everyday. In Yokohama (the first time) I lived close to the piers, not really downtown but still urban, and in Okinawa I drove into Naha almost every day.

      Now I live on the south end of Yokohama, not really the country but not downtown Tokyo or anything.

  • avatar

    TM, you make me feel like I was in Japan, recently :)

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