We finally got the car!

Saturday August 9

As the title says, we finally got the car! I bought a Honda life which is a kei car from my predecessor. We finally had a chance to check it out today. A little summary of what a kei car is compared to a white plate courtesy of https://sagajet.com/white-plate-vs-yellow-plate/.

Yellow plate cars: Limited in engine displacement to 660ccs or under (about half the size of the average economy car in your country), and are also subject to regulations limiting overall external dimensions.

Yellow plate cars are smaller inside and out than the vehicles you’re used to seeing in your home country, and safety standards are also typically not as good (which is why they’re not exported). These drawbacks are balanced out by the reduced cost of ownership. Fuel economy is better, tolls are often discounted, and registration, inspection, and insurance costs are less. Legal occupancy for a kei is capped at a driver and three passengers.

White plate cars: Any vehicle with an engine larger than 660ccs or exceeding the allowed dimensions for a kei falls into the futsuu, or regular (white plate) category.

White plate cars are larger, more powerful, and safer, but more expensive to own than a yellow plate. The exact difference in cost really varies a lot depending on the cars being compared. Tax-wise, the absolute minimum is about ¥37,000 annually, but insurance, increased fuel consumption, shaken (車検/inspection), and higher tolls will push that number upwards.

I did notice a little bit of struggle from the car as it accelerates, but other than that we’re pretty happy considering the AC works perfectly and it runs nice and quietly once you get up to speed.

My cute little Honda Life!

In the morning before we headed out for lunch with others residing in the town close by, we took the car for a ride! A few of the streets near our apartment appear to be one-way streets when in reality they are actually two-way and it makes for a tight squeeze when busy. Lucky for us, it was early in the morning and we had little to no traffic. The big difference of driving in Japan compared to driving in Canada is that in Japan, they drive on the left hand side of the road. This also means that the windshield wipers and signal are placed on opposite sides of the steering wheel. We had a pretty successful time driving the first time around!

For lunch we went to 石仏観光センター・郷膳うさ味(kyozen usami) and had a beautiful multi-course vegetarian set course. We met two other ALTs and a Japanese local!

The lunch was really delicious, albeit some of the courses were a bit strange or strong tasting. I’m proud to say I finished them all! We also had some really yummy icecream and learned about scary hornets.

Hornets or yellowjackets, or Suzumebachi スズメバチ are hella scary. Read more here about them: https://www.digi-joho.com/living-japan/hornets-suzumebachi-stings.html

The other ALTs, Kayla and Alex, were super nice and drove us to Daiso (a dollar store) and a grocery store to stock up on emergency supplies.

Sunday August 10

we drove to a neighbouring town to do some more shopping. Buying bins is crucial for staying organized. We Marie Kondo’d our apartments. I can’t wait for garbage pickup…. I have so many bags of trash. The past two ALTs had so much stuff, with a lot of duplicates 🙁

Japan does their garbage differently from Canada. They seperate their garbage into burnables and non-burnables. Shout out to Tori for being so helpful in figuring out what we can throw away with burnables (twice a week) and non-burnables (once a month). For more information you can visit:https://www.tofugu.com/japan/garbage-in-japan/

We drove to Bungo Futamigaura on our way home. We were greeted by the smell of ocean and we only saw one family there!

豊後二見ケ浦 –The 17m “male rock” and the 10m “female rock” of Bungo Futamigaura are linked by a 65m, 2-ton strip of Shinto consecration straw rope measuring 75cm in diameter. The symbol of Kamiura, this particular strip of Shinto rope believed to be fending off evil spirits is the longest one of its kind in the country, which consequently led to its listing in Guinness World Records in 1994. (https://www.welcomekyushu.com/event/?mode=detail&id=9999900048868&isSpot=1&isEvent=)

Monday, August 12

We were patiently waiting for our typhoon to pass before we make any longer trips. So far we just meandered around Tsukumi, visiting local shrines. It’s not supposed to arrive until Wednesday. We went for dinner with Kayla and Koki at an Indian restaurant in Usuki that was really yummy. We got home and it was a bit dark but we could see the big dipper so clearly!

I’ve been diligently working on Hiragana and learning new vocabulary!

Example of the work I’ve been doing

Tuesday, August 13

We were super excited for this day to come because it was the day we could finally throw out non-burnables. It only happens once a month in our area and I was dying to throw out all the excess garbage I had that was piled in the corner of my apartment. When 8:30AM passed, we went outside to check what the garbage situation looked like and if they had collected our garbage. We were really sad because they had only collected the stuff in the bins and not the plastic bags. We decided to leave our bags of garbage out since it looked like the garbage collectors had also left behind our neighbour’s garbage.

The first highlight of our day was when all our Amazon packages arrived! We bought new bed sheets, towels etc and were super super super excited to wash them and put them onto our beds.

My new bed sheets are so kawaii

When we left a few hours later to go to the garbage disposal site to get rid of Tori’s old TV, we noticed that they had cleared all of our garbage and we were super relieved! We then drove to the disposal site and unfortunately they wouldn’t take our TV. They took the TV stand and the excess cardboard but the TV will have to wait for another day.

We decided to stop by the bulk grocery store after hearing rumours that frozen veggies were around/less than 200 yen a bag. We found way more than expected! We found peanut butter, cheap canned food and lots of vegetables and fruits for cheap. I think we’re going to have to make a trip here more often than our regular coop store!

The second highlight of our day was definitely Fukuratenmangu. Fukuratenmangu is the name of the shrine we visited in Usuki. Tori found it on google maps and it was just the cutest darn place ever! We both bought a lucky cat with a fortune and later spent awhile translating it on google translate.

A strong typhoon is supposed to make its way inland, but we’re still waiting on that. For now, I’ll end my post here since it’s getting pretty long! I hope the typhoon changes course or dies off because I really want to do some more exploring. For now, I guess I’ll work on my introduction speech and lessons, along with more Hiragana yay!

Lots of love always,


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