Sunday, April 14, 2013

Driving in Japan: Not for the Faint of Heart

I live out in the countryside and the schools I teach at are about 20 minutes by car.  Fortunately, both of them are really easy to get to- they are close to major roads and don't require many turns.  I say fortunately, because finding your way around this country by car can be a major headache.  The locals all rely on GPS navigation because, get this, streets are rarely marked!  That means my usual method of direction finding, reading a map, is notoriously unreliable here.  You just have to know where you're going.

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that, in cities and towns, streets are a twisty, curvy, blind-cornered labyrinth.  Did I mention that most of these streets are the width of 1 and 2/3 Japanese sized vehicles?  Small, narrow, twisted. Scary.  Not scary in the way (so I'm told) India is, where there are no rules to the road and chaos rules the day.

No, driving in Japan is scary because people drive on these narrow roads recklessly fast and act like it ain't no thing.  I'm a pretty relaxed and cautious driver but there have been a few times I've worried about my safety.  Riding along with my Japanese friends, however, is a thrill ride.  This is just in the countryside mind you... I haven't taken the car to Tokyo yet.  I'm sure thats a whole different bundle of madness...


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