Automobiles - - 汽车


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Driving Cars

I obtained my driver’s license in my last year in college in Tokyo, but did not own a car until two years later when I was in the second year of my working for IBM, in 1967.  It was a second-hand Toyota Corona that I bought from a Toyota car dealer employee in Shinjuku, Tokyo.  I drove my car usually on weekends, but sometimes drove it to commute from Tokyo, where I lived, to Yokohama, where I worked.  When I moved to Kobe City, I drove it to commute from my apartment in Rokkō to my office in Sannomiya.  Since that time, I must have bought in my life about twenty cars in Japan, U.S., Taiwan and China.  See Appendix for the list of my cars.

When I went to the United States for the first time as a graduate student in 1969, I bought a used, dark blue Ford Mustang for about 900 dollars.  It was a horrible car, as I found out a week later that there was almost no fluid in the brake fluid reservoir.  I complained to the dealer who had sold it to me, but then he topped it up without bothering to investigate further!  I drove this car around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I studied, and visited New York City several times. 

When I later moved again to the United States while working for IBM, my wife and I first bought a modest Ford Maverick subcompact car, in which we had wonderful trips from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Quebec, Canada, and to Key West, Florida.  As our family grew and we could afford better cars, we always had two cars: an Audi or Nissan sedan, and a larger Ford or GM stationwagon.

Back in Japan, I owned Toyota cars mainly, but as my father-in-law was a Mitsubishi Group man, he gave us his Mitsubishi car when he bought a new car.  In my 40s, I was very much interested in taking care of my own car and changed engine oil, spark plugs, etc. by myself.  On Sundays, I often went to Daikuma, a local hardware store, when they had special sales of car accessories.  I even did the car maintenance work that was necessary for passing the vehicle inspection.

When I worked in Taiwan in 1990-1991, everybody advised me not to drive a car in those messy traffic conditions.  In fact, the Japanese companies there typically prohibited their Japanese employees from driving cars.  My employer, however, was an American company, and did not impose such a silly prohibition, so we bought a Honda Civic, a used car again, which my wife mainly used.  In this car, we had a wonderful one-week around-the-island trip in 1990.

When I came to Dalian, China, in 2001, I first quietly watched the Chinese people’s driving habits and the road conditions, which were and still are horrible.  But then in the fourth year of my stay here, I felt that our Japanese driving habits in the 1960s were as bad as the Chinese habits now and that the Japanese taxis, often called kamikaze taxis, were driven like these taxis in China now.  So, I gathered my courage, obtained a Chinese driver’s license, and ordered a Citroën Elysée because I had wanted to own a French car since my college days.  But my Citroën did not arrive after two months’ wait, probably because I ordered an automatic transmission car, so I quickly cancelled my order and haphazardly bought a Honda Fit sedan.

On the subject of automatic vs. manual transmission, almost all cars in Japan and the U.S. are equipped with automatic transmission, while most cars in China and Europe use manual transmission.  During the time when I lived in China, my wife and I went to Europe on vacation three times: to eastern France, southwestern France, and Andalusía, Spain.  It was I who always drove the car there, because she could not drive a manual transmission car.

I used my Honda Fit in China mainly to carry business guests in my work, while I went as far as Anshan in the north and Dandong in the east on my vacation. In my ninth year in Dalian, however, feeling the stress of the ever more congested roads, I sold my Honda to one of my Chinese friends.  At the age of seventy, I have still not realized my dream of owning a French car or a convertible.
























From my book “Spring in Dalian” (Tokyo: Koyo Press, 2012)





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Created by Yoshi Mikami on March 10, 2015. Updated on April 3, 2015.