The move, the drive, the future ( Cost of car ownership in Japan)

With the acquisition of my Japanese Driver’s License, the next step, the purchasing of a car comes closer.

First thing I need to secure is a parking spot.  Actually,  to make procuring a parking spot more convenient, moving to an apartment with parking readily available for rent is the first step.

When I have acquired the papers that promise a parking spot.  Which will cost me 26,250 yen per month ($313) where I live, then I should be on my final steps of purchasing a car.

That means as I’m in the process of renting my parking spot, I should be on the look out for a good second hand car.

There are heavy costs to pay before acquiring a car.

——————————— ( Once )

Besides bringing a boatload of documents, I must be ready to pay an Automobile Acquisition Tax, which costs 5% of the car. So, if my car costs 500,000 yen ($6000).  I will pay 25,000 yen ($300).

Next up is a weight tax known as an Automobile Tonnage Tax, the tax is based on your vehicles weight.  The maximum they can charge you is 75,000 yen ($900), but if you own a Kei car, it will usually be below 50,000 yen. ($600)

Then you must pay to change the car’s name over, and that Name Change costs 3000 yen ($36)  for a K-car and up to 25,000 yen ($300) for a normal car.

That’s what it costs to acquire a car, before paying for the parking!  So for a normal car under 500,000 yen, it could cost up to $150,000 yen ($1800) on top of my car’s price or half that much for a Kei car.

——————————— (Every 2 years)

Then comes the SHAKEN.

The Shaken is a special Japan only type of car inspection.  Other countries have emission testing, but Japan has the mandatory Shaken car inspection, to ensure you car is road safe and up to regulation.

It can cost as little as 70,000 yen ($850) for a Shaken all the way up to double that for a regular sized car, and even more for older cars.  The Shaken is good for 2 years.  There’s also a follow up inspection for cars older than 10 years.  This inspection takes place every year, and costs about half the price of a regular Shaken to as little as $120.

So, every year for a car older than 10 years old, you will be paying at least $550 (for Shaken and follow up)/ year and up to $1500/year for a bigger car.

It will be over a grand for a K-car and about $3000 for a bigger car every 2 years.  It will be cheaper if your car is newer, these are for 10 year old cars.

——————————— (Every year)

Finally is insurance, which isn’t as expensive as some might think.

Insurance can start at about $360 per year and run up as high as $1000 for premium insurance.

The standard Automobile Tax runs as high as 20,000 yen ($240) for Kei cars, depending on the age, but is generally lower, and as cheap as $60. For bigger vehicles, the cost can run as high as 50,000 yen ($600), but is usually less, depending on the age.

Kei car’s yearly cost can be as low as $420 and big car’s yearly basic insurance can be as high as $960.


Based on these facts, to own a car like the Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R from 1999, you’d be forking out somewhere around $2500 USD/CAD a year, for insurance, tax, and Shaken, plus parking (almost $4000 in Nagoya City!) would be almost $6500. This is before toll costs and gasoline, maintenance and public parking away from home.  The GT-R itself would probably cost around $20,000. With 5 years of driving or less in Japan, your taxes, Shaken, and insurance would have paid for another used R34 GT-R.

For a cheap, little, 10 year old, K-Car, the price could be half as much per year. An the initial purchase of the car could be around $3000.

So, the size of your pocket book makes the difference.  You should be making at least $60,000 a year to live comfortably with an expensive car, or half that to maintain a K-car. Or just export your car to your home country, but where’s the fun in that?




Yesterday, after work, I went to Mondo books in Osu to look for Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix.  It was a really pouring down, my walk there was rather calm though.  From Sakae to Mondo books didn’t take very long, and they were a lot easier to find because of their new signs.  I ran into Mike, one of the owners of Mondo books, but he didn’t have the book for sale.  It was unfortunate, but we talked about other topics until I decided it was time to pick up my Mini Bass Amp.  I went to Komeida to pick up the amp for about 3600 yen.  It’s small and convenient and quite enough to be used at night with headphones.  After that I went to Kappa Sushi, the walk down there was more wet and the winds were picking up.  It wasn’t until after dinner that I felt the wrath of the Typhoon tearing through my Umbrella.  The walk home was a lot longer and wetter than usual.

Why top down, why not bottoms up!

Many wise people believe in religion, because it gives people a piece of mind knowing that all their lives work and experience don’t go to waste at the end of their long lives.  Some religions believe in reincarnation, so that we can forego the vanity we all feel when we’re about to pass away.  Others choose to believe to live now, and change the lives of those around them, without worrying about the afterlife, karma, retribution, hell, or anything proven or unproven.  The fact is no matter what it is we all see ourselves as below a greater being or equal to the greater beings.  If that’s the way we see life, aren’t we purposely blinding ourselves to the other possibilities that may exist?  By not looking at any other lifeforms, or other animals like us, we’ve already subjugated ourselves to the belief that nothing from below can control our behaviour or what we are.  In fact, I feel that we work to satisfy those who don’t really know we exist as a conscious being.

Think about it this way, being a single celled organism, and being able to survive, thrive, by feeding off what’s around in a comfortable environment doesn’t really create a need for change.  However, once that food source of comfortable environment has moved on, it is up to the natural genetic make up of the creature to survive.  It survives by building itself a “ship” or a comfortable, safer environment where it can travel and find a source to feed itself and thrive.  Mold spores, pollen, winged ants, human space stations, and many other examples are some examples that are all similar.  Some methods are more organic, others reliant on the environment.  Humans aren’t the only creatures who use the environment to build themselves a way to move on, aquatic life use rocks, shells, insects use leaves, and wind.  Then you have to think.  What is using us?

A recent article about ants who are possessed by a type of jungle mold caught my attention, as well as another article about a virus in cats that can pass to humans.  The mold controls the ant, even in death to walk to the forest floor where it can flourish.  The kitty virus uses mice and makes them reckless so they can get caught and spread up the chain all the way to humans, making many cat owners, in theory, more reckless than dog owners.  We eat, we live, as other insects and animals do it for mother Earth, who sustains us, we pollute and hard this Earth.

Many animals who lose their values become extinct, unless they learn to live apart from the Earth.  Certain fungus’ can live without air, light or water, and if we abandon the Earth will we be the same or sterile?  Insects break down waste and allow plants to flourish, plants take in Carbon dioxide and turns it into air, which many insects and animals use to repeat the cycle allowing everything to live in harmony.  One creature keeps another in check to keep them from overpopulating and disrupting the cycle.  We seem to have many plans, but the most important one right now is to protect our Earth.  If we don’t then we have to flee.  The Earth out of balance will encapsulate itself in extreme weathers, ice, heat, high dust, or radioactivity.  It will eventually happen, even with we’re out of the picture.  Once this is in order then we will continue to focus on ourselves again.

So again, what is controlling us from below?  Our cellular make up, our organs, and everything thing about us is working in synergy to keep us alive, and once in a while cells will go Maverick and threaten our lives.  In most cases however, humans are able to adapt and survive.  We must survive to keep most of us alive.  Even the bacteria that lives with us needs to keep us alive to survive in our gut.  They’re comfortable, they’ve been comfortable for hundreds of thousands of years within our ancestry.  To keep us happy they will work to do their best to ensure proper function.  Once we’re happy, they’re happy.  If they’re unhappy, so are we.  We have the last say with modern technology, but since ancient times they’ve been the ones keeping our body in balance.  So if things are out of balance we die or suffer horribly, or in some cases adapt, and evolve.

One day we may evolve out of our dependence on our bodies ecosystem.  We may be more android, but in that sense, our biology will eventually fade out, and we’d be that Ghost in the machine, that makes it think about why its living, and who it is living for.  So I believe we’re not the driver’s, but the car in this world.  The ones that drive us are well hidden within us.  They may make up what many believe to be a “soul” but in essence its not different than us and animals managing the Earth.  Will we one day evolve to become the driver’s or the souls or something else?  For now, we’ll follow the instincts that so many believe to be free will.  However, we’re still a bird in a cage.

At the Dome

After getting my driver’s thing, we went to Nagoya Dome Aeon to go shopping.  Many people were flooding into a Dome because it looked like there was a game.  It was my first time there and the greatest thing about it was the pet store.  There were more animals available up close than Higashiyama zoo.  You could buy a kangaroo, chickens, quails and other strange turtles and reptiles!  The small animal room had a giant tortoise and kids playing with it.  It moved around really fast and it was snapping at a wire when the handlers stopped it.  It looked like a dinosaur, with spikey legs and tanned body colour.  Afterwards, I bought a new fold out mattress and carried it home by subway.  It probably looked ghetto and strange to the people leaving Nagoya Dome after the game.  On the train all they could see was the pink flowery mattress and my legs.

How to get a driver’s license in Nagoya!

Yes! I have my driver’s license and it costed under $100, but costed many hours!  I would say it was worth it, but I got to see the worst of Japanese bureaucracy.

Things I did right included, having the same driver’s license for the past 4 years, it’ll expire soon.  That way they are sure, by checking my passport that I’ve driven in Canada for at least 3 months.  Not renewing my passport, which is also expiring soon was another good step in re-enforcing that I’ve driven for at least 3 years.  Getting a translation of my driver’s license at JAF (3000 yen) took a while because I had to bike there.

Things that almost went wrong included, having a gaigokujin card that was near expiration, and with corrected address.  Also, being able to fill out information in katakana helps, but they will help you if you have the information.  I almost forgot I needed a resident certificate from any ward office (300 yen) to confirm my address.  I thought  the gaijin card was enough, but apparently it won’t cut it.

So the first thing I did was get a all day pass and headed down to Hirabari station by taking the Tsurumai line.  I walked South from Exit 1 for 35 minutes and reached the driving centre.  Its all uphill from the station, but all downhill on the way back.  Inside there were many, many counters and much more people running around than at the immigration centre!  Asking for help I found my way to line 12, which was the line to change a Canadian license to a Japanese license.

Why go through all the trouble?  The first reason is that my International Driver’s license expired 2 months ago, and the second thing is being Canadian, you get to bypass spending thousands of dollars and many days doing exams that other foreigners and Japanese nationals have to do.  Its a good deal, especially if you want to plan road trips or get a car.

After getting a number and waiting for almost 2 hours for the people in front of me to finish, it became my turn.  They had opened up another counter and there I plopped down all my information.  I could tell the work for a Canadian was a lot easier and quicker because he quickly stapled my things together (passport, gaijin card, resident certificate, Canadian driver’s license copies), glued my picture in and told me to fill out a form, and pay the 2400 yen for the stamps that go on my form.  After than I took it to Counter 13-14 where they made small name revisions and gave me a ticket to get my eyes checked.  After they confirmed everything was good they sent me to take an eye test.

I thought it would all be over after the eye test.  Looking at the letter C and describing which way it was facing in English and a colour test they gave me another ticket.  This time it was one that said I had to wait another hour, after lunch to pick up my license.  I began to suspect it wasn’t going to be so easy or cheap.  After an hour they called in the foreigners, explained in Japanese we had to buy another stamp to pay for our license and the picture they would take for our license.  So we went downstairs and lined up, waiting for their lunch break to be over.  The queue was quite long, but we got through pretty quickly.  The employees, with the exception of some were like robots, day in and day out doing the same thing.   So we were back upstairs, and they pulled us to one side as regular Japanese licensees got their pictures taken.

Once they finished and went downstairs we were given a little lecture on some license rules and the changes that would occur in a month concerning small trucks.  After we signed some sort of waver, I couldn’t understand so well since everything was in Japanese and all the Spanish speakers relied on one translator, I just did as they did and got my license.  I had to fill in a IC number card and input it into a machine with my license.  Once that was done I was out of there!  4 hours over and done and with my license!  That IC card things is still kinda weird, and I’m really not sure what the explanation was about.  However, I am a full fledge driver, and I got through the driving centre without any translator!

Day of Doctor

My first trip the the clinic.  I’ve had this cough for 3 weeks and it recently got worse.  There was another person being introduced to the Clinic by a friend and they went through the exact same procedures I did.  First I sat and waited after filling out my information.  I read a information sheet about how much smokers will end up spending, and how it can be spent on different things.  If you don’t smoke for a year, you can take a small family vacation.  If you don’t smoke for 5 years, an international one, 10 years, a family car, 20 years, a sports car, 50 years, a new house.  When it was my turn I walked to the doctors desk, much like how it would seem like at a high school check up.  He asked me if I understood Japanese, I said no so he spoke English.  He checked my throat and breathing, then prescribed me medicine.  As I paid, they gave me my own membership card.  They spelt my name wrong and used two n’s instead of an h.  An “n” in Japanese looks like the alphabet h!  I went to pick up my drugs and the pharmacist explained to me in very simple English how to use it.  I paid and left.  So was my first day at a Japanese clinic.  Thanks for the help Blitz!

Hospital Days

During dinner yesterday Blitz told us he was at the hospital for surgery.  After finishing dinner at an Izakaya that was kinda like a ghost house we went home.  After work today, 3 of us visited Blitz, and with his surgery done, we sat around and chatted.  As he got tired we decided to head to Osu to look at some things.  There was a nice 3500 yen mini Bass amp that I wanted to pick up.  We had dinner at the tsukemen restaurant, then went to the Apple Store to look at the iPad2.  I played some interesting games, one called “cut it”, and a few other ones.  We decided to game at Tin’s house, and took the subway there using our day pass.  We started out with games like Pain, Street Fighter IV Call of Duty black ops and then ended with ninja turtles.  Tin then drove us all home, and in a few days we have a planned trip to Mie.

Need to get my gaijin card renewed and I need to get some pictures so I can get my driver’s license.