Saturday, April 16, 2005

Raining cats and dogs

shibuya in the wet
Originally uploaded by monkey with a gun.

The cars here are like nothing else I’ve seen before. They range from being the sleek futuristic type to the all concurring Toyota Crown taxi. It seems this 1980s car has fallen through the space time continuum and is still the current model. These Crowns while still retaining their mid-80s shape, have had upgrades to bring them kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Apart from having a Flux Capacitor for a meter, the rear doors have been fitted with a remote open and close mechanism, the headlights are those funky xenon kind and I’m guessing their engines are fairly schmick. However, DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT catch a taxi for any reason what so ever in Japan. They are stupidly expensive. From what I can tell it costs $AU8 just to get into one, then you pay through the nose from there on. I’m guessing it’s a way of trapping dumb Americans and making them pay for what they did to Japan all those years ago. By far the most popular of makes, Toyota is everywhere. A close second is Nissan, followed by Subaru, Mitsubishi and Mercedes. And everything Japanese is really cheap. I’m talking $AU4,000 - $9,000 for a decent second hand Japanese sports car. And they aren’t fussed by silly little things like standards. While they drive on the same side of the road as Australia, the ratio to right hand drive and left hand drive cars is about 2 to 1. What is cool is that most people, thanks to space restriction and traffic hassles, opt for using public transport and bicycles.

Why buy a car when you could purchase on of Japan’s most popular of status symbols, a living and breathing dog. They’ll set you back anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on what sort you want and with most pet shops being open 24/7, one can indulge in a yapping poo machine any time. What I would like to set up is a “dogs for cars” exchange program between Australia and Japan. I’ll swap some sort of compact terrier for a 1999 Subaru WRX with 40,000kms. I’ll even throw in a few cans of chum for the plane ride across. I guess this is why Sony’s robot dog Aibo is so popular here. At about half the price of the real thing and the ability to wrap it up without it dying, it’s certainly the smarter option for a birthday gift. By the way, the Aibo is very cute and I want one. The design is like a G4 Powerbook with legs.

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