Although cities like Tokyo have excellent train and subway systems, in most parts of Japan the only way to get around is a good old car, so I thought I’d write about ways Japan’s “car life” might differ from your country. Although freeways exist, they’re not “free,” and it costs around $25 for me to drive the 100 km down to Tokyo each way. One nice thing about driving in Japan is that drivers are super polite, flashing their emergency lights once to say “thank you” when you let them in, or turning their headlights down while stopped at an intersection to avoid blinding the drivers across from them. Gas stations are nearly always full service, with a professional attendant who wipes your windows and hands you a clean towel for the inside of your car. Currently fuel costs 103 yen/0.78 EUR per liter, which works out to US$3.35 per gallon. While there are many hardcore car enthusiasts in Japan, the general trend is for young people to be less interested in owning cars, or in buying inexpensive “kei” vehicles that are hard to get excited about.
Speaking of driving, I’m taking a bit of a drive this weekend with my kids, to visit the historical village of Shirakawa-gō in central Japan, which dates from the 11th century and which features homes constructed in an ancient thatched roof style. The village was registered as a UNESCO cultural heritage site in 1995, which makes Japanese really happy, as they love being noticed by “Outside World-senpai.” Shirakawa-gō is more than just a beautiful part of Japan to visit: it’s also the setting for the horrifying visual novel and anime Higurashi When They Cry, about a series of supernatural murders and disappearances that happen in the fictional town of Hinamizawa around 1983. We’re going to tour the town, and will do our best to not be violently murdered. If you want to follow our progress, follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
J-List loves to sell random and fun snacks and drinks from Japan because everyone in the world is a potential customer. Whether you want to enjoy old classics like Pocky or Green Tea Kit Kat, or find something bold to try, like the dried squid tentacle that goes so well with beer, we’ve got fun items to browse!