The following is a short article written by a very good friend of mine, who was fortunate enough to visit Japan recently to visit his son who is currently working out there. When I knew he was going I jokingly asked him to get me some photo's etc. Instead Gerry very kindly put his observations into words for me:
"I did see some very beautiful Estimas in Japan - one parked near where I was living was white with really dark windows, a 3.0, and looked very swish. I noticed a couple of things - all people carriers have a rear mirror fitted at the end of the roof, looking down at the bumper - must help when reversing into a tight space and you want to get as close as possible to the car behind without actually having intercourse. Second thing I noticed was that in Japan nearly all cars are black/white/grey/silver. Hardly any reds, blues greens etc. Odd exceptions tend to be imports - e.g BMW's in post office red. Oh yes a 3rd point, all vehicles are kept absolutely spotless, not just cars but trucks and even cement mixers drive around gleaming in the sun. Trucks tend to have an amazing array of mirrors to each side of the cab and the cab itself tends to be finished in chrome plating which is polished until it gleams. With a few lights for decoration most JP lorries look like fairground vehicles.
Although I prattled on at length about the cars etc. I did not mention the single aspect that will most typify the visit for me - that is the kindness & politeness of the people I encountered over the 2 weeks. It is the thing that will be my undying memory of Japan and which draws me back for a second visit. They really deserve to be the wealthiest nation on the planet!
Sayonara" (Special Thanks
to Gerry Mewton)
Japan, as I'm sure you'll know suffers more than most countries from dreadfully congested roads in their urban areas. They also have fairly regimented holiday periods, which combined with expensive toll road systems results in potential chaos for those who wish to travel by road. A result of this is that the Japanese rail infrastructure is very efficient (lucky Japan!), although I'm sure if I was a commuter in Japan that I'd hate the way guards push passengers onto the subway trains. Still, their public transport is a real and viable alternative to travelling by road, especially added to the fact that their world famous Bullet Train (Shinkansen) will take care of most longer distance travelling requirements.
The result of the above is that Japanese cars generally are mainly used as short range shuttles, this applies to the sports supercars as well as 4WD's and MPV's. This in turn means that you can expect Japanese cars to do less miles per year (around 30 to 50% is quoted) than their UK equivalent, and apparently around 97% of 4WD models have never been used off-road (so why do they buy them?). Click here to find out how the average Japanese person goes about buying a car in Japan.
Japan has the
second largest domestic automobile market in the world, with the five major manufacturers
(Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi and Mazda) competing furiously for sales through large
and comprehensive new and used car networks. To stimulate domestic sales, most automobile
models undergo a full model change every four years with minor front and grill changes
cars are virtually always low mileage, by UK standards, and the mileage can be relied
upon. It would actually be very difficult to find a car in Japan that had done 12,000
miles per year - the British average. One rarely sees a vehicle with more than 100,000
kilometres (62,000 miles) on the clock.
Cars sold in Japan generally have a higher equipment specification than UK equivalents. This often includes air conditioning (an expensive UK option) electric windows and alloys.
however a few guidelines I would recommend to follow before leaping in and buying a 'Grey