As mentioned in yesterday’s post, we rented a Nissan Cube with the intention of leaving the city and checking out other parts of Japan… mainly Mount Fuji. The appeal of doing this rests solely on mine and Shannon’s fondness of road trips. We LOVE driving large distances and seeing sights along the way. Hell, that’s exactly what we did on our honeymoon five years ago. We are the tourist stereotype.
We are the Griswolds incarnate.
Now, to give credit where credit is due: renting a car in Japan was INFINITELY easier than I expected. Kudos to Japan Experience and Nissan for making the process simple, painless, and so easy that an anime geek could do it. Here’s the website I used if you ever decide to rent a car in Japan: www.japan-experience.com/car-rental-japan
One more note: BEFORE YOU RENT A CAR IN JAPAN, you will need to get your International Driver Permit. This is also pretty simple (especially if you have a AAA office near you.) Details: www.dmv.org/international-driver-permits.php
So, for the first time in my life, I drove on the opposite side of the road. It looked like this:
Of COURSE it was raining that morning, you know? Notice the speedometer in the photo. OTHER COUNTRIES DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT MPH. We list miles AND kilometers on our vehicle readouts, but no other countries use our measurement system – none of them.
[Insert rant about the U.S. not adopting the metric system here.]
The GPS was fun to watch, but useless since it did not have a Romanji keyboard on the touch screen. Instead, we listened to a lot of J-Pop radio stations which played the occasional Justin Timberlake and One Direction song. Also interesting was the fact that radio drops between commercials and songs were in English – because (I assume) it’s cool(?)
Anyway, the GPS did us no good, but my magical international iPhone worked wonders. While at the stop light, I actually tapped the button on the phone and said, “Siri, how do I get to Mount Fuji” and – guess what – IT WORKED. Siri instantly pulled up that map and got us heading in the right direction using (gasp!) Apple Maps.
Here’s Shannon watching the GPS as we leave the city:
Notice the look of confusion on her face since she’s in the American driver’s seat. It was strange, but good for her (so she claims) since it seemed to help her avoid feeling car sick – something that tends to occasionally happen to her as a result of my somewhat FAST AND FURIOUS (sarcasm) driving style.
Also look in her lap and you’ll see how well she planned in advance. Those are printouts of Japanese road signs in case we came across ones that we couldn’t immediately deduce. (For the record, most of them turned out to be pretty easy to figure out.)
Our first FREAK OUT moment on the road came when the GPS in the car started beeping a loud alarm and saying something in Japanese that, of course, we didn’t understand. My heart raced as I tried to figure out what the hell was going on – and then I saw it in front of me: a toll plaza.
If you thought the Florida Turnpike cost a pretty penny, it’s got NOTHING on Japanese toll roads. I didn’t keep track as closely as I should have, but I’m pretty sure we dropped between 2500 and 3000 yen (roughly $30 American) in tolls ONE WAY. Between gas and tolls, getting to Mount Fuji probably… wait. Never mind. I don’t want to do the math.
Once we got outside the city (which took some time thanks to traffic) we began to see an entirely different side of Japan. It was breathtaking. It all seemed like home here in the states, but just slightly different enough.
Shannon kept pointing out the trees and mountains, while slightly similar, didn’t compare directly to anywhere we had been in the States. To me, though, the roads and tunnels seemed vaguely familiar and after driving for a while it hit me: racing video games. The style of roads and the look of the tunnels reminded me of tracks I have played in games like Burnout and Need for Speed on my XBox and Playstation back home. It was pretty cool.
Part of the fun driving through Japan was trying to translate road signs not found in Shannon’s folder. At one point, we saw a sign with a large letter “P” and the picture of a tea cup. We assumed (and pulled off to confirm) that it was a rest area with food available. Thus we checked out a Japanese highway rest stop which resulted in Shannon buying MORE JAPANESE SNACKS!
From there, we continued driving towards Fuji…