Friday, March 13, 2009

What's in a Name?

I have blogged in the past about Japanese car names like the Latte, the Naked, the Guppy and the one closest to my heart--The Prairie Joy. Before coming to Japan, I had never thought of the prairie as a joyful place. But now I know.

Here are some recently spied additions to the WTF Car Parade in Yokosuka:

The Turbo Joy Pop (Was it as good for you as it was for me? I need a cigarette...)

The Scrum (It's okay if the rugby players bleed on the carpet. Because there is no carpet.)

The Royal Saloon (This is a fancy saloon. Not just anyone can come in.)

The Sunny Super Saloon (This is the saloon for the peasant masses who like to be pleasantly medicated.)

And my new personal favorite...The Dingo. (I swear officer, before I knew what had happened, this mangy little hatchback came out of nowhere and snatched my child.)

Automobile nomenclature aside, the Japanese take driving seriously. They are generally conscientious motorists. Turn signals are de rigeur. No one blasts music from open windows. I rarely hear car horns, even in a megatropolis like Tokyo. It is extremely rude to use them unless an accident is imminent. In fact, in almost 4 years in this land, I have never seen anyone even gesture rudely. (Attention New Yorkers and Italians: offensive driving need not be a lifestyle.)

Perhaps you might consider such civilized driving unstimulating. Where's the action? Where's the human drama?

Never fear. The Japanese have zero parking for their businesses. So, just as you are being lulled into a false sense of serenity, some joker will suddenly halt and park his car in the road to run into 7-eleven for a drink/smoke/porn magazine.

Yes, IN the road. I would tell you they pull off to the side of it but that would be a lie because Japanese roads have no side (unless you count the 4 inches from the lane line to the curb). Speed limits are notoriously low here, about 50 kph (35 mph)--TOPS.

Intense frustration sets in when, finally reaching the maximum speed of a fast moving bicycle, one is forced to stop on a dime every 15 seconds. Then, of course, you also have to pay attention to the multitude of motorbikes and scooters weaving indiscriminantly through traffic. They have the right of way in all traffic situations as well as the oblivious pedestrians obsessively texting on their phones. As foreigners, every accident is our fault so we have to be super vigilant while on the roads.

I am fairly certain that if it weren't for the hilarious car names and No Porking signs, swearing and honking of horns would be way more prevalent in this culture.


Anonymous said...

Maybe we should get a royal saloon... I kind of like the name.

Clint and Ashleigh said...

The "Moco" is my favorite. Moco is Spanish slang for bogger, and well, it happens to be a car of that size (and the one I spotted was even green)!