Category Archives: Nihon Life

NIHON LIFE: How an automaker deals with scandal in Japan

Because of the various demands of Japanese society, the shame of such an event manifests itself in strange ways. As you may have heard, Mitsubishi Motors experienced a little scandal last year, in which it was found guilty of cheating … Continue reading

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NIHON LIFE: Japan proposes changes for easier expressway navigation by foreigners

Japan’s expressways are famously difficult to navigate. Most are named for the far-away places they head to and are difficult for non-native Japanese speakers to remember. That may all change, the Ministry of Transport is proposes an alphanumeric system to help us gaijin not get … Continue reading

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NIHON LIFE: Get free tea when you climb into a Suntory taxi

Today is National Taxi Day in Japan, a date chosen to commemorate the start of the country’s first cab service in 1912. As it happens, this month Suntory is making Japan’s notoriously hospitable taxis even more so, by giving passengers a complementary … Continue reading

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NIHON LIFE: June is Illegal Exhaust Awareness Month in Japan

Time for a JNC public service announcement: If you have a car in Japan, and you have an aftermarket exhaust on it, be careful during the month of June. It’s Illegal Exhaust Awareness Month, and authorities will be cracking down on modified … Continue reading

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NEWS: Japan raises its national speed limit

Last Thursday, the Japanese government raised the national speed limit for the first time. Ever since the opening of Japan’s first highway, the Meishin Expressway, in 1963 the speed limit has been pegged at 100 kph (approximately 62 mph). The new laws will … Continue reading

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NIHON LIFE: How to park your car in Japan, Part 03

Welcome to the final installment in our multi-part treatise on short-term automobile storage in Japanese society. In Part 01 of the investigation we studied what was within and without the bounds of the law, as well as the ubiquitous steel-bar-rising-up-out-of-the-ground parking lots. In … Continue reading

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NIHON LIFE: How to park your car in Japan, Part 02

Sure, owning your own kyuusha in Japan sounds like a lot of fun, but where do you put it? In Part 01 of our damning exposé on the topic of parking an automobile in Japan, we illustrated what was legal and illegal, and did a … Continue reading

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NIHON LIFE: How to park your car in Japan, Part 01

Finding public or street parking in Japan’s major cities is sometimes chotto muzukashii — a Japanese saying for “a little difficult,” said through clenched teeth with a trailing “iiiii…” it essentially means, with typical Japanese subtlety, impossible. So there is naturally … Continue reading

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NIHON LIFE: Bidding Sayonara to the Hotel Okura

It has no engine, no wheels, and never won any races, but the Hotel Okura is an icon of the Showa Era. Since opening its doors in May 1962, it has hosted every US president since Richard Nixon. In 1976, JVC … Continue reading

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NIHON LIFE: Summer Evening on the Wangan

The O-Bon is an annual festival that honors the souls of one’s ancestors. Many Tokyoites head to their hometowns to visit the graves of their forebearers, leaving the city strangely free of its dreaded logjam traffic. In other words, it’s the perfect … Continue reading

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NIHON LIFE: Commuting above-ground

Living in Tokyo’s 23-ku has many benefits, and detractions too I suppose. However, one of my great pleasures is the early morning commute across town. Many years ago I decided to ditch the usual meek-gray-mouse-crammed-onto-the-Ginza Line experience for a motorcycle. 

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NIHON LIFE: A kei car Sunday

For a number of years we’ve passed a lone Subaru 360 perched atop a rack built from scaffold over a similar-age Sambar truck. I kept thinking, “I must stop and photograph it before it disappears.” Like a Honda S500 no … Continue reading

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NIHON LIFE: The Shuto, Tokyo’s Elevated Expressways

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Expressway — Shuto Kōsoku Dōro (or just the Shuto) — is Tokyo’s answer to handling large volumes of traffic traversing the megalopolis.

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NIHON LIFE: Tressa Yokohama, Toyota’s Mega-Mall

I finally got some free time to go check out Tressa Yokohama, a giant Toyota-owned mega-mall in Kohoku, Yokohama. In addition to your typical shopping mall features like a McDonald’s counter and escalators pointing every which way, showrooms representing all … Continue reading

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