04 June 2008

Been Busy

We have been very busy here, as is indicated by the lack of recent posts. Our friends moved in a couple apartments down which is nice as they are going to have a boy only a couple months before Jackson is born. We met them in the indoc class and have gotten along very well, as like us, they are adults, and can carry on mature conversations about real life. The husband is a civilian who works on base and they got a car before us, which has been convenient as he goes to work at the same time as me.

I've spend the last week familiarizing him with the train system and the other things we've been able to learn about in our short time here. Emily has made me able to jump into things much quicker than I ever used to, as we have ventured into several areas off the beaten path and are now able to share these experiences with others and show them the interesting things we've seen that make life here easier.

We are also about to buy a car. I suppose it could be called a car, its kind of a Japanese SUV though. It is a Suzuki Wagon R (Mine is silver). Sort of a van/minivan/mail truck. The Japanese call it a "kei car" or keijidosha. That literally means "light automobile", which it is. The engine is a 1.0 or 1.3 liter straight three. Yes, three-cylinder engine, great for gas mileage, since fuel is 4-5 dollars a gallon here. I love the train, and will still ride it often as it is convenient to get into town and to work. It's also less expensive.

There is quite a bit of a process to buy a car here.

Japan has what is called JCI, which means Japanese Compulsory Insurance (I think), which is essentially an automatic insurance policy. It is obtained through an extensive inspection. Blinkers, windows, tires, brakes, lights, everything is checked. This is done every two years.

The base then requires additional liability insurance. This is paid a year in advance, but its not bad, only about $250, since I'm now over 30 and an E-5.

Then, you have to pay road tax, which is due every year by May 31st.

Then you have to get a government parking sticker, because to have a car, you have to have an assigned parking space. Kind of like if Aberdeen, or any city, kept track of every residential space, and only allowed you to have as many vehicles as could be parked in the spaces allotted to you. This would be handy in several areas of the US.

Then of course I have to get base decals, which obviously, allows me to drive the vehicle on base and park it in government areas off base.

Fortunately, my car dealer handles the JCI and the parking, I already have the insurance done, which is required before you can even purchase a car, and the base part can be done whenever.

So, as I said, busy, but having fun doing it all. We should have the vehicle on Friday, so we'll be exploring this weekend, finding new things. Might go to the zoo in Nagasaki, and while we're there see the peace park, which is ground zero for the atomic bomb. I want to go to Imari and see pottery caves, something Em is excited about also.

I still have a tough time believing I'm in Japan, and no only that, but I'm driving around, riding the train, talking to people, eating all kinds of who knows what, and often don't want to, hehe. I recommend this to everyone, we've had the time of our lives so far, and we've got three years to go.

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