The conversation always goes the same. “So, did you get a car yet?” Then I politely reply, though I am sure each time this question is asked my response has more of a tone to it than the time before. “I’m not getting a car.” The look on their faces is one of shock, disbelief and I think a look of how un-American of you.
I am living in the best of both worlds in my opinion. I live on a small military installation that allows me to bike to all the needed places: work, groceries, fitness, and even the bar. Why would I drive anywhere in this little town. Starting my car to go three blocks to the grocery store is ridiculous and my dad would not approve.
When I step out of the gate and comforts of my little American city, I am a train ride away from the largest city in the world, Tokyo. Outside of my home is considered country by the nationals. Not too far from me are fields of rice and sunflowers. By no means is this Kandiyohi County. It is still very city to me but it does get quiet and less congested at times.
So, why would I need a car? I can hop on the train and head three stops to the 100 Yen Store and a shopping area. I can take the train into Tokyo to see plays and concerts. I can take trains all over this country. Why would I drive when I can ride?
Also I took the driving class. I have a Japanese drivers license. This is not a grid system over here. People on bikes, just about as cute as mine, come out of nowhere and, along with the pedestrians, always have the right-of-way. Driving, to me, looks more stressful than freeing.
I was told by one new friend, “Oh, you will get a car by the end of your first year.” Why? Is it just that unimaginable to NOT have a car? Maybe in a year’s time I will have begun to learn the area and feel I need a car to get places. So if not having a car is UnAmerican is some crazy way, I can live with it. I think I make up for it in other ways.
Besides, at this time, the only place it seems to get all the Americans is Costco. I am in Japan, the only place I care to go to less than Costco is Walmart. That’s true here or in Minnesota.