[J] Having worked for Toyota in the late 80′s and then, a decade later, buying a “grey import” Mitsubishi Lancer MR Mivec followed by an Lancer Evo IV and being TOTALLY blown away by the Japanese way of doing things, I knew that I just had to visit Japan to get a greater understanding of the place. I love the attention to detail and the pride that this nation seems to have about everything they do….
[S] As you can imagine, for me it is not about the cars. I am much more interested in getting to know Japan and its people and marvelling at the beautiful scenery – I hope the cherry blossoms won’t have disappeared too early.
Well the last 2 weeks have flown by and we are now back at home… back to the rain. I must say that we were very lucky with the weather. It is not a given at this time of the year – at the same period last year it was rather wet and blustery. We only got one day of light rain and otherwise the temperature was fairly mild and it was mainly sunny. So it was the ideal weather to explore our surroundings. We only came back Thursday night but already we are craving Japanese food – this was definitely a highlight of the trip for the 2 of us. Coming back to sit on cold toilet seats made us appreciate the electrically heated Japanese toilets. In the short time we have been back, we have really noticed a stark difference between the English and the Japanese who are smart looking, well dressed (well apart from this next guy!) and very trim.
We will miss the cleanliness of Japan where there is no litter and everything is sparkly clean and it is incredible how safe you feel wondering around such a big city at any time of the day or night. I have been overdoing it here today with my smiles, pleases and thank yous – at least I am not bowing, which I did get into a habit of doing as it is a very common way of greeting and thanking people in Japan. When people say goodbye to each other, even friends, they do not hug, they bow, sometimes to an extreme angle. I think the bus driver at Heathrow was glad to be thanked as it looked like this had not happened to him in a long time. In Japan you are greeted very loudly as you enter and leave every single shop so I got used to acknowledging the person in return or even in advance. The one thing we are not going to miss is the pace of life. It did feel like people were living their life at 100 miles an hour – I suppose this would be the case in most capital cities. We won’t miss the lack of space – our 1 bed flat was very spacious by Japanese standard but tiny in comparison to what we are used to in Europe. The Japanese seem very keen shoppers and collectors and the shops are always bursting but we have been wondering where they put it all?? The Japanese love Paris and London and aspire to own known European or European sounding brands from make-up to cars. We just hope that this won’t change Japan too much in the years to come and won’t spoil its distinctiveness and incongruity that we love so much…as we hope to go back in the future.
So I will finish with this picture Jonathan took from our flat window on our last night in Tokyo. Sayonara !
This is the Toyota Levin GT. In 1983 it was sold in the UK as the Corolla GTi. I sold 2 of them back in 1989. They were hard to sell actually … They drove great tho. I sold one to my Mum because it was one of the most lively exciting cars I had ever driven. She enjoyed driving it for 9 years.
My Mum’s was silver over black and I used to borrow it alot !! In Japan a craze was born around this time. It was called drifting and its basically the art of making a car drive fast round a circuit with the rear of the car breaking loose.
This car had a great 1.6litre injected dohc engine with 130 bhp and it revved to 7000 rpm. It was the same engine as fitted to the mk1 MR2.
This car was worth £4000 and they rotted for fun !… Today, one like this would be worth £10,000
We visited Odaiba and more specifically Divercity Tokyo plaza. Outside the Gundam Cafe is a full size Gundam robot. I have recently got very intetested in these and have just bought a 1/60 scale kit to build… Such a big kid at heart !!
The full size one looks like its made from aircraft alloy and its weathered due to it being outside. I plan to make my model “weathered” also. Love the look of these !!!… Gundam kit building is so popular, it has become a 50 billion yen trademark here in Japan.