Apple Country

Stories of rural life as an ALT in a northern Japanese fishing town.



My supervisor sat me down one day in October and told me that he didn’t want me to to use the town car for personal purposes anymore.  The reason he gave was that I was  “under scrutiny” as a public servant, so I assume he was worried a member of the public might see me up to no good and rat me out to the authorities… Incidentally I have never actually caused any problems when using that car but whatever.  (Okay I crashed into a snow pole, and even when I told him about the scratch A YEAR AGO he didn’t seem bothered enough to tell me to get it fixed, so it remains to this day.)  Apparently the ALT before me parked somewhere he shouldn’t have and someone rang up the town office to call him out.  The shame, the embarrassment.

I was a bit peeved that all the other ALTs got to use the car before me, but more to the point he didn’t even offer to help me find a new one.  I think he knows I’m capable of sorting myself out, but trying to lease a car in a different language would be easier if I had someone fluent helping me and making sure I didn’t get a crappy deal.  So I put it off as much as possible, getting trains and lifts from other people, until my neighbour told me she knew a guy that could be of service… He had a garage an hour away in the deep inaka, and apparently used to loan a car to Santa Claus when he had a stint at nearby Santa Land Shirakami, which is sadly no more.

So I went to his pokey little garage and stood by the portable heater, listening to two old guys talking to each other in heavy Tsugaru dialect while he made a note of my details for the insurance.  It was originally going to be 10,000 yen a month (£60) which was pretty cheap when it includes insurance and tire service etc, but because I’m young he said it had gone up to 13,000.  Can’t argue with that!  I told him I’ll be amazed if I survive the snowy season without a scratch, to which he just laughed and didn’t seem to mind.

So here is my new automatic “bus”, which isn’t really a fan of hills and can just about handle 30mph on a good day.  Now I feel like a true countryside driver.


4 thoughts on “Car

  1. That is one serious vehicle. Shame there isn’t a 1 in the middle of the registration plate, cos it would then be a Yes album title!! Happy driving. x

  2. Why do all their vehicles look like the people?? x

  3. Cool car! I had a little yellow-plate car, fond memories of my hairdryer on wheels 🙂 If interested, you can read about my JET experience here:

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