Monday, April 26, 2010

On the Road

One of the adjustments necessary in moving from Japan to Florida is a shift in modes of transportation. A great number of people in Tokyo drive a car every day in going from home to work, but a much greater number depend on public transportation. That might possibly draw a frown from some who enjoy driving but have not experienced a system quite like Japan’s.

Driving daily in a city like Tokyo is not quite like driving in Los Angeles or Orlando. I would even say it’s not too comparable to driving in New York. The dynamic is a little different. Everything in the Japanese system is narrower and more confined, and a great deal more disciplined. Everything is smaller and ninety-nine percent of the time Japanese drivers are in sync (harmony?) with other drivers. There are far fewer traffic accidents in Tokyo than you might imagine, and there are no lurking police cars looking to give out traffic tickets.

On the other hand, public transportation in Tokyo works like a well-oiled machine, twenty out of twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. But precision is required to smoothly move so many millions of people about a vast city. Trains, buses and subways follow a schedule in which it is very, very difficult to find complaint. The operative word is ‘dependable’ and the urban-civil engineers of Japan have taken it to the optimum. Getting around town on the countless miles of train and bus lines is in many cases literally child’s play. (Many Japanese children are passionate train hobbyists.)

For all my time in Tokyo I depended daily on getting about by train, bus and subway. I never wanted a car, never had urges to drive there. Traffic congestion is all too common for my driving comfort.

But here I am in a whole new cityscape, and much of my time now is spent driving from place to place. It’s not in the least unpleasant, not too often congested, and at this point I am enjoying the change. For the time being I’m driving a borrowed car, but will no doubt soon be tooling about in a newly purchased car of my own. (There is a photo attached of the car I want—a 1947 Nissan Tama Electric.)

On another plane of adjustments in the making, I have since my arrival in Florida eaten at five different local restaurants. I told a dinner companion tonight that I would give an overall rating of B- to the food I've eaten in those restaurants. Maybe I just like Japanese cooking too much.

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About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America