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?



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!

If I were to buy a car…

I’m in Japan, indisputably one of the worlds top 3 car producers in the world,  tied with Europe, ahead of America, and following from behind is Korea.  In this age where China and India are racing to join Korea in a journey to usurp the declining giants, there was an age where Japan was the climbing car maker.  From behind they changed the industry, not just on the roads but on the railroad tracks.  But now fans are left looking back at the glory days that got Japan to where they are.  I am one of those looking back, back at the light, all wheel/rear wheel drive, dragons on wheels.  So if I wanted to get a car in Japan, which car should I get?

First of all, it must be unique, and difficult to acquire in Canada.  That rules out major vehicles like the RX-7, Skyline, Supra, WRX, EVO, and so on.  The most unique cars in Japan are Kei-Cars, a shorten name for cars that are eco-friendly, small, efficient and can be quite fast.  They carry yellow license plates, and also a spot in my heart.

Here are the candidates I’ve decided upon:

Subaru Vivio


Suzuki Alto Works


Nissan GTi-R



Suzuki Cappacino


Honda Beat:


So which one hmmm, I guess it depends a lot on the price, condition, and wither I want a convertible or mini-box!  I also don’t think the Nissan is a K-car, but its a powerful beast!

Some fame:

The Subaru Vivio was featured on Lucky Star beating a RX-7.  The Cappuccino was on Initial D and it lost to the AE86.  The other cars are pretty similiar, except the GTi-R has twice the power.

Car Story 2

Let me tell you about two car stories. A long, long time ago, in a land quite far away from where I am now, I tried to buy two different cars, by two different manufacturers, two different times.  However, both times were a complete failure.  Once was during the economic peak of late 2007, and the other was about less than a year and a half later.  Both times ended in frustration and failure, but probably for the better?

The first time was at a Mazda dealership.  It was quite the dark and rainy night.  With my father, we tried to negotiate a deal, and then paid a deposit, which was promised to be returned if a car could not be found.  It was quite simple, we wanted a mid-level Mazda Miata (Roadster) with automatic transmission and a hardtop, color wasn’t a big deal.  Why the Miata?  It was a small, efficient, sporty (albeit girly) sports car, and the girl I hung out with at the time was quite infatuated with the car.  According to the dealership, this was a difficult combination to find, and because it was no longer Summer it would be very difficult, and within due time we found it was impossible.  The dealership tried suggesting alternatives, but we wouldn’t budge.  Then they tried to sell us a mini van for a budget price.  We proceeded to get our deposit back and never spoke of the car again.

The most recent time I tried to buy a car was in 2009, just before I started studying at BCIT.  I was a little reluctant to buy a new car before going to a Trade school, but I figured why not?  My RX-7 had not wronged, but it was difficult to get through emissions at the time.  So we tried many Nissan dealerships.  Many dealerships wouldn’t budge a cent on the 370z citing its popularity, newness and rareness.  Many dealers didn’t bother to give a test drive, and many dealerships couldn’t be bothered to discuss preferences.  “What we got is what we got.”  That was the message at every dealership.  This gave me a lot of time to research the problems related to the car.  The car was certainly exciting, the price of a economy sports car, for the power of a Porshe 911. The car had come out 4-6 months ago, but this superior attitude during a bad economy made me ponder if this was one of the contributing factors to our economic recession.  Much like with PS3’s and Nintendo Wii’s, they couldn’t meet demand for about a year, or in Nintendo’s case, 3-4 years.  There was a demand, but no supply, no personnel concerned, because the economy was good.  Now the economy is in a rut.  Morale is down, nobody knows why.

I did get close to buying a model with a classic colored interior.  However, I fought for black on black, but nothing came of it.  Afterwards, I also tried to ask about cars from Suzuki dealerships, and if they had certain models in stock, but they feigned ignorance about commercials, discounts, and try to redirect me to minivans.

Do I want a new car?  Probably not, especially if I have to deal with salesmen who have no business or automotive sense.  Many wise men have always said,” the worst investment was in one that would depreciate thousands of dollars the minute you leave the premise.”  Maybe they are right.  Maybe the right car is waiting for me here, in this country.

Cat Converters an original school research

On my way to work today I began thinking about cars in Asia and Canada.

The Catalytic Converter, is as much political as any other  social topic. “Cats,” short for catalytic converters, fit into everybody’s car, usually between the engine and the mufflers (a.k.a. exhaust). The main reason they exist on a vehicle is to reduce the emissions that are released into the biosphere and atmosphere. In the past, many manufacturers chose not to include them because they raise the cost of a vehicle.

Most modern cars come with 2-3 cats. One pre-cat after the engine, one full size cat in the middle and on some cars one pre or full size cat before the mufflers. On rotary engine cars there may be up to 4 cats. Their job is to prevent the release of CO2, NOx, and HC. HC and CO2 being the main culprits of implementing the use of cats. They can raise the cost of a vehicle by $1000 for parts and labour, and in developed countries one can say its a small price to pay for a healthy environment. However, in developing nations $1000 is enough to convince people to avoid automatic transmissions and accept standard transmission, which requires more education and experience. Cars that cost a thousand dollars more may put them in a different category and make them more difficult to sell. America had left out cats when they sold cars to China in the past, which studies showed help increase the amount of pollutants in the air and contribute to China’s current state. However, Americans could argue that any slight increase in costs makes their vehicles more competitive, therefore resulting in losses. Cats also harm fuel efficiency, therefore costing the car owners more in fuel costs.

Besides losses, many Asian countries chose to avoid paying more for an environmental “tax” may could not afford. Japan didn’t use cats in their cars, and I still believe they don’t. Many mechanics and researchers can argue that cats harm the engine and weaken the car’s performance. Besides clogging exhaust in the engine, and making it harder for a car to breathe, a car with cats suffers from long term damage. Imagine having your lungs filled with honey comb filters, which are inside of cats, and running in a marathon. Your body would probably collapse from lack of oxygen, or at least your performance would suffer horribly. The same thing happens to a car, and its the reason why people remove their cats and at the same time widen their headers. This allow the cars to breathe, but at the same to “pollute” more. Theoretically, cats don’t stop pollution, but insteads traps them inside of a metal container filled with filters so they don’t get released into the atmosphere. A cat needs to be changed every half a decade to a decade, if they aren’t changed then they breakdown, which doesn’t cause a car to suffer, but it will have trouble passing emissions. Without cats you car won’t be noticeably louder, but with larger headers, it will be. Your car will run a lot better, especially if you have a turbo charged car, but some cars may suffer because some modern cars are designed to run under a certain amount of air pressure, that if it becomes easier to breathe, it may become less fuel efficient. With a more unclogged exhaust system, from the engine to the mufflers a car may last longer. It won’t undergo any serious damage, and may in fact be more fuel efficient. With less cats being produced, there would be less factories polluting, less trucks moving them around to factories, and less mechanics being paid to do the work of changing cats for emission tests. This is starting to sound like the cat laws were created to maintain jobs rather than environmental protection. In most parts of North America cats probably don’t make much of a difference because of the smaller populations, however in countries like China I believe cats are much more important. Cars are becoming increasingly emission-free and the need for cats may one day disappear, especially with electric cars on the rise. However, it will be a hard sale in developing nations even if it is made a law. The price of metal and resources continue to rise even in a economic recession.

One may say that cats are a cash grab, like emission testing and others may say its necessary to protect our environment. There are two sides to the coin as I have noted. Damage to the engine would cause even more pollution, and the cats are eventually dumped in junk yards or metal yards causing biosphere waste. Cats will help keep metal prices high and profits of large corporations high. Not to mention cats provide any nation with large amounts of scrap metal, which may be used during war time to make bullets and armor. I for one prefer not to have cats on smaller vehicles that prove their fuel efficiency. Larger vehicles like SUVs, trucks and big rigs need cats. If you put a cat on a Toyota Corolla it doesn’t help its fuel efficiency nor its engine lifespan.

New Suspension system and new bushings, but problems?

Had the Struts and springs installed installed within the past two weeks with a lot of help from Justin and the bushings with help from the while class.  Bushings only costed $45 ! Thanks to a site recommended by a fellow RX-7 Club member.  The car sits 1 inch lower, and there really wasn’t anything wrong with the old suspension system, but the new one feels a lot firmer.  However, several problems have arose from this upgrade, the first is directly related to the suspensions.  The tires now scrub against the new springs, and it scrubs enough to leave rubber marks and on the right side it actually scraped off the paint!  This problem is isolated to the front of the car.  While doing alignment, I’ve discovered another problem in the same area, but this time it is unrelated to the new suspensions, and it is that my right control arm is slightly bent, giving me much higher camber and casters numbers than spec.  The biggest problem is that camber adjustments couldn’t fix the problem but has minimized it.  Now continues my search for a new passenger side control arm, and if I get ahold of those I’ll need new bushings for both sides.  A lot of money and a lot of work! I’ve also scrubbed the bottom of my car already, off the alignment machine.

MSN conversation 1 : Future of cars?

Gary says (10:19 PM):
its a different world
SFASC says (10:22 PM):
ive made it one of my goals to understand how cars work. i will no longer go around ignorant =D
it’ll probably take some time but it’ll be worth it.. then maybe one day i can mod cars and stuff
Gary says (10:22 PM):
mods are good
but upkeeping the mods
is the hard part
a lot more maintenance
Gary says (10:23 PM):
which = more $
if you don’t $
then you will $ more eventually replacing parts
SFASC says (10:23 PM):
yeah. its quite a cycle of $ tornadoing
probably something to do when i have a job haha
SFASC says (10:24 PM):
my friend was just telling me that it cost $4000 to use a blackberry over 3 yrs
that’s absolutely insane!
Gary says (10:24 PM):
think about it
chris has a iphone
w/ data plan
= $100 a month
before taxes and shiz
1200 a year
Gary says (10:25 PM):
3600+ for 3 years
original plan was 50 bux a month
thats mandatory
data plan isnt mandatory but costs $50 for like 4-6 gigs of data a month
Gary says (10:26 PM):
a lot of smartphones require dataplans
or else u can’t buy the phone
with contract
at the rate we’re going
Gary says (10:27 PM):
in the future cars are going to be the same
they’re gonna be on monthly contracts
and you technically won’t own what you drive lol
like the Ferrari FXX
technology is going to be too difficult to service
because of all the electrical technology
its literally going to be one giant smartphone on wheels
Gary says (10:28 PM):
that only the dealership can service
think about it too
its more profitable for the dealer when you lease/rent
than when you buy soemthing straight up
and do it all yourself
and if you mess it up its not under warrenty
Gary says (10:29 PM):
so to prevent the future car from not being messed up and voiding warrenties
the dealership will handle it all
at a monthly service charge
and cars will probably be receiving data constantly
weither for your gps or for data that gets sent back for research purposes on future vehicles
so they can be safer, more efficient, etc
SFASC says (10:30 PM):
two things scare me
that you’ve obviously thought this out quite a bit..and that it could possibly happen
it sounds absolutely terrifying
Gary says (10:33 PM):
its good for buisness
all governments will support it
our economies will soar
since a majority of people in the world only see vehicles as tools to get around
Gary says (10:34 PM):
and public transit will see changes
basically the idea of all preceeding generations was
Gary says (10:35 PM):
to create conviences to take unconvinient things off our mind
so we can focus on greater needs and concentrate on greater things
that require our attention
so far most of what we live and do has done that and we don’t even realize it
Gary says (10:36 PM):
so its only natural that the same thing will happen not to say it will be the same, but it will certainly be refined over time
Gary says (10:37 PM):
and therefore it will settle those that resent the change with incentives
and then eventually standardization
Thats also how Europe became a nation-state Empire
Gary says (10:38 PM):
back then and today with the new EU
the world is on its way back to Empires, but no longer in the same way
Gary says (10:39 PM):
the new Empires promote free trade, less taxes, more individuality and greater co-operation.
people in Europe can cross borders and move where they want without passports
Gary says (10:40 PM):
the US has a different idea about a North American Union
its more like secuirty based
since we need passports to cross now -_-
the American model won’t fair to well
but if the whole car thing does happen
Gary says (10:41 PM):
it’ll usually start in less privlidged nations
where not many people can own cars, or that its too difficult to support an expanding population and infrastructuer
like Asia and Europe
North America like always will probably be a few decades behind
globalization will reduce it by a bit
Gary says (10:42 PM):
so you don’t have to worry yet if you live here ;D
SFASC says (10:42 PM):
ahah. that makes sense. america is paranoid
SFASC says (10:43 PM):
i suppose leasing cars isn’t so bad.. i think
Gary says (10:43 PM):
SFASC says (10:43 PM):
but perhaps the reason why they might still sell cars is to get greater amounts up front?
Gary says (10:44 PM):
the thing is manufacturers say its getting too expensive
to make cars
making it difficult for more people to afford them
its because theres so much testing required, electronic systems are like crazy
its like ps3
Gary says (10:45 PM):
they lose money for each they sell
they always have to cheapen the parts
and part prices eventually fall
but by that time they need a new system
for next gen
its just not going to be as profitable
not going to break even eventually
until the whole economic stuff collapses again
and restructuring begins
Gary says (10:46 PM):
and lesser and more innovative stuff gets killed off
so the company can support their flagship models
which sell well but may be boring
like the Corolla
its no fun
but it does its job as a tool
Gary says (10:47 PM):
its better to have a steady flow of income
rather than spikes as well
Gary says (10:48 PM):
although i’m not a economic or buisness major
so i dont know too much about the underground of how banks work
except for what ive seen or read in magazines sometimes
Gary says (10:49 PM):
like gov’t saves banks
banks suppose to spend money to save auto industry
but too afraid to invest in anything anymore
therefore gov’t invests in auto industry
costing gov’t twice as much as its suppose to
or something like that lol
SFASC says (10:49 PM):
SFASC says (10:50 PM):
i myself don’t understand why there was so much money pumped into  GM then there is a bankrupt filing
Gary says (10:50 PM):
the thing is
even if GM is bleh
Gary says (10:51 PM):
we need it to survive
not just for jobs
but they have so much of their hand in every other auto company
that the entire industry will suffer
if they vanish
SFASC says (10:51 PM):
yeah. i understnad it networks out and what not
Gary says (10:52 PM):
well i think they tried to prevent it from actually being bankrupt
like how Canada tried to not enter a recession
and continued to do things as normal
then Harper goes
We in recessionz
and get a lot of bad publicity for not doing enough
Gary says (10:53 PM):
and the previous government under the liberals created a economic netting
to save us from entering the same state as US
that and all that foreign money being pumped into our economy
from Asia
especially China
Gary says (10:54 PM):
is why our housing market is still so strong
well I should sleepT

The name of the friend I was speaking to has been changed.  Otherwise, all other details remain unchanged and the same.  The thoughts and feelings written by both party may or may not reflect our personal feelings and therefore, should not be used against us, but only as a piece for conversation and discussion.

Gary says (10:27 PM): in the future cars are going to be the same they’re gonna be on monthly contracts and you technically won’t own what you drive lol like the Ferrari FXX technology is going to be too difficult to service because of all the electrical technology its literally going to be one giant smartphone on wheels Gary says (10:28 PM): that only the dealership can service think about it too its more profitable for the dealer when you lease/rent than when you buy soemthing straight up and do it all yourself and if you mess it up its not under warrenty Gary says (10:29 PM): so to prevent the future car from not being messed up and voiding warrenties the dealership will handle it all at a monthly service charge and cars will probably be receiving data constantly weither for your gps or for data that gets sent back for research purposes on future vehicles so they can be safer, more efficient, etc SFASC says (10:30 PM): two things scare me that you’ve obviously thought this out quite a bit..and that it could possibly happen it sounds absolutely terrifying

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Videogames night at SFU and volunteering

We had the SFICC videogames night last night, but the turn out was low.  We only had 4 people show up!  But we had 5 consoles!  The PS3, Wii, XBOX, PS2 and DS’!  We managed to play almost 12 hours though as we started off with Bomberman on the DS with Mario Kart then moved onto the PS3 with MGSIV, then GT5, then on to the Wii for Smash Bro., then onto the XBOX for HALO2, then we went to 4 way bomberman on our DS’ and finally we played Gundam Seed Destiny on the PS2, before heading home!  With justonly 4 of us the advantage was we could spend more on food and snacks!  It was a great time and the small turn out turned out well as we had time to play on every system.

There was very little sleep left for my volunteering today.  I managed to get by 5 hours of it though without feeling too tired.

Activities i’ve been doing in SFICC

We had a wings meet and another get together then

That sunday

I finished last again at my first vcmc autocross which was free b/c of my renewed SFICC membership.

I bought gta4, persona 3 FES, and FFXII about 1 week after I got back, but after 3 weeks I finished GTA IV. Breaking into Persona 3 just before MGS4 comes out!

And thats a brief of what I did in the past 3 weeks. I slept and watched anime most of the time. Was so jetlagged for 2 weeks.