Japan 2005: Breakfast and parking

Today we basically stay home doing nothing. I write some of these stories and later in the day we visit my father-in-law in the hospital. He will have some more tests because he is suffering from nausea after the surgery. And will be in the hospital at least a few more days. I am sure he would really like to go home. He must be worried about the company too, as he basically worked 7 days a week. We stay only a short while as that is all the kids can handle. So I will write a little more about everyday things in Japan in the rest of this post.


A traditional breakfast for Japanese consists of fish and rice, although many Japanese may get something from the convenience store now-a-days. On my first few trips, my wife’s mom prepared these typical japanese meals for breakfast. Generally it is a dried or broiled small fish served whole with the head. It is salty of course, but not bad in taste. However, I am use to a coffee and a muffin or donuts for breakfast, so this is a big change to my diet. There is also sometimes pickled veggie or tofu served and soup. Except my body was not adapting well and I was, ahem, having a hard time going to the bathroom. So she started doing salads for the breakfast to adapt for me. Today she makes a french toast. My wife had been making french toast at least once a week back in the US. So I guess her mom felt that would be better for me. It is normal french toast, except since she didn’t get syrup she sprinkles sugar on one side. So it is basically like donuts for me.

My parent-in-laws apartment is about 45km outside of Tokyo and 25km outside of Yokohama. So really it is not that far, about 28 miles and 15 miles, but driving in or out from Tokyo takes 2 hours and Yokohama is an hours drive. There is a highway but it takes a good 10 to 15 minutes to get to that and then the speed limit is 80kph or less for most of it… which is about 50mph for those of you in the US. Japanese drive on the left which is the same as the British. Streets are pretty narrow with the exception of the major roadways. And they go in every direction so navigating Japan even for Japanese is no easy task (I will write more about this in a later post). I don’t have a license, so my wife does all the driving. Or her brother or father when he is well. It gets quite boring being the passenger all the time. I had heard you can get an international license permit that you can use to drive in Japan. I really need to investigate this more as I can only take being a passenger for so long.

Parking is an adventure here, if there is a parking lot, it is tiny compared to the US. And in some cases you just park on the walkway. Many buildings are raised so that you park under the building. That is at ground level between the support structure/columns for the building. Space is a premium in Japan, so there are even more ingenious ways for parking, such as double decker parking spaces. These are special lifts, that when you park, lift the car to allow another car to park below. Of course many cars are designed smaller here as well, even trucks and SUVs, so more cars can fit in a smaller space. When it comes to parking meters some have special locking mechanisms on the ground, where you can not get out of the spot with out paying or seriously damaging your car.

For the apartment we stay in, the parking is under a building next door… which to get the car into the spot we access via a narrow side street and then an alley that is actually wider than the street. However, often when coming back in the evening, there is a car parked in the alley. So we have to squeeze by those cars which leaves about 10cm room on each side (if that) and finally turn into the space. Since we pull into the space, getting out requires backing up through this same path. Usually in the morning the cars are gone and so it is somewhat easier. As if that were not hard enough, the landlord has their dog chained so that it can wonder across the path to get to the parking space. We always have to check for the doggone (pun intended) dog. Some day that dog is going to be a goner.

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