Street Legal

The streets are no longer safe.  I passed my driver's license exam.  I had been putting it off because it required me to wake up at 5:30 am to go when Fred left for work.  I survived, however, and can now drive on the island.  Have I mentioned they drive on the left-side of the road here?  Only thing left to do is find a car.

Unlike most parts of mainland Japan, Okinawa is much more car dependent.  While there are city buses and a monorail system that runs downtown, they don't go on the bases here, which is where I will need to go every day when I get a job.  Fortunately for me, used cars are extremely affordable here.  Fred took me around town Tuesday to some used car dealerships.  He had to go into work at 2 am that morning for a stateside video conference so we had most of the day to shop around together.  I love the Japanese cars here.  Hatchbacks and small cube-like vans are popular.  The roads can be narrow here and parking tight.  Most Americans seem to stick with their tried-and-true sedans and SUVs, however.  I know this because American cars are easy to spot.  We are issued a different license plate than Japanese nationals with the letter "Y" on it.  You often hear Americans refer to other Americans simply as "Y-plates" on the island.

After hours scouring various used car lots, I had a good idea of what I wanted.  I also knew I didn't want to pay dealership prices.  While they aren't outragous, you get a much better deal if you can buy from a private party who is leaving the island soon and needs to get rid of their car.  My requirements aren't much - I'd like a cute-ish car with relatively low mileage, doesn't stink, easily accessible cup holders, a mirror under the visor, an arm rest, a stereo, and a tilt-wheel.  Bonus points if the car comes in a pastel color.  Pastel is big here and I'm already a big fan.  For some reason, Fred laughs at my checklist of wants.  His car doesn't have an arm rest or mirrors under the visor.  Jealous?

My biggest dilemma in the Okinawan car-shopping world is this: I like the cars the Japanese people drive better than the cars the Americans drive.  This is a problem because I don't speak Japanese yet.  All the used car lots that speak english have all the cars Americans have driven.  The used car lots with the cool, pastel, Japanese cars don't speak english.  We went to one and I felt like I was in pastel car nirvana.  They were taunting me with their cuteness!  I was ready to sign on the dotted line, but the Japanese man came out, mubbled something in Japanese and then said something that sounded like he didn't want to sell us a car.  I waved goodbye to the little, purple Daihatsu that displayed a whimsical "Hello Happy!" when you put the key in the ignition.  One day, you will be mine.  Until then, I'll go learn Japanese.

    p.s. The Pokeman car, sadly, was not for sale.

This one is for sale, if you speak Japanese.

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