JAPOW! Part5

Just Another Morning of Commute, Part 2

Another morning with a foot of snow fell overnight, a local snow clearer getting busy from before-dawn for us to be able to drive through these roads.

It is quite a common sight to see in the morning in snowy regions of Japan.

In case you have not seen anything like this, here’s a video of just another morning for us.


New Video, View From My Window

Watching the seasons changing

I was fortunate enough to see the seasons change, from late Autumn to winter here in Nagano.

I captured a bit of “A different day, A different weather” from my window during my stay at Ryuoo Ski Park so let me share those moments with you here.

Hope you’ll enjoy this video!

JAPOW! Part4

This is a video of just another morning of commute by a car, through the walls of snow on sides.

I’m in a van so my viewpoint is slightly higher than a normal car.

These walls of snow are just getting higher and higher…

Trust me, there used to be a bamboo bush all around!

Hope you’ll enjoy!

JAPOW! Part3

It’s not unusual for you to see locals clearing snow in front of their properties using this type of small snow prowlers in the snowy region of Japan.

I do want one if I ever live in a place like Yamanouchi.

So cool, aye!

Enjoy the video.

JAPOW! Part 2

Just another morning in Yamanouchi, Nagano, Japan.

The key to the survival in this kind of snowy region in Japan,

Clear snow off your car the night before when you know it’s gonna snow overnight!

Otherwise you’ll end up spending looooong time the morning digging your car out of snow and get it going. You’ll be late for work!!

Enjoy the video.

Different Colours on Number Plates

What are all these vehicles with yellow number plates?


A friend of mine from New Zealand once described these as “A trolley (shopping cart) with an engine“.

You see them everywhere in Japan, especially once you are out of cities, in rural region.

They are usually quite tiny vehicles, square-ish, either 5 doors or pick-up style.

What are they?

They are called Kei Jidosha 軽自動車, that translates as “Light Vehicle

I’m pretty sure in any countries Vehicle Classification comes in various ways.

In Japan, basically passenger vehicles are classed in 2 categories by its size and the engine displacement, roughly.

Hutsu Joyosha 普通乗用車 and Kei Jidosha 軽自動車.

Hutsu Joyosha = Normal Passenger Vehicles – White Number Plate

Kei Jidosha = Light (Weight?) Vehicles – Yellow Number Plate

2 Different Classes

This is a Subaru Legacy, buried in snow. Got a white, Hutsu plate
  • Hutsu Joyosha – The length up to 4.7m, the width up to 1.7m, the height up to 2.0m and the engine up to 2000cc.
  • Kei Jidosha – (L) up to 3.4m, (W) up to 1.48m, (H) up to 2.0m and the engine up to 660cc
This is an old school Kei ute, or pick up truck, with a cool snow prowler on

So Kei 軽 vehicles are a lot smaller, you can see that by the photos I suppose.

Why so many in rural areas?

Basically because it’s cheaper to own.

  • Cheaper to buy
  • Cheaper tax
  • Cheaper petrol (gasoline)
  • Cheaper insurance
  • Actually these square box shape gives you a lot of room inside, surprisingly

Then, again, it must be same everywhere in the world but, a simple truth in life,

“The further away from cities, the more reliant on cars in everyday life”

In rural areas, one household needs to own multiple cars for everyone in the family to live a daily life, that’s why a lot of people to choose Kei Vehicles to keep the running cost down.

On the other hand, I’m born and bled in Tokyo, never needed a car, never owned nor drove until I moved to New Zealand.

Cities in Japan has such a fantastic public transport system so I never needed it. If I had to go away, I could always find someone who has a car.

So now, you have one mystery solved that has been lingering in the corner of your mind.

If you have a chance, I reccomend to give it a go for driving one of these, as long as you can actually fit your body inside, if you are like 190cm tall!

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Kono Kuruma Wo UNten Shite Mitai この車を運転してみたい = I wan to try to drive this car

Keep listening to this until you’ve nailed it!

A nightmare of renting a car in Japan

This could be the hardest challenge you face while travelling in Japan


Or even before setting your foot on the soil, over the internet while organising your trip. You may even forget about hiring a car when you can travel around the whole country by trains and buses.

Why is it so hard? I just want to hire a car. But it’s not that easy.

I hope in a way this is happening only to me.

At the same time, to be fair, I’ve rented a car only in small-mid sized towns and never in cities or at airports. The situation can be quite different and easier if you are picking up your car at those places.

The reasons that make it so hard are

  • You can’t choose a vehicle like you normally do shopping online, choosing an item with a photo and click and so on
  • You have to contact companies by sending emails and wait
  • Often those reply emails are not helpful if your request/order is not suited to their situation and, in this particular case, I have to go through all the process all over again through their website and by emailing and waiting
  • You can’t find too many options for 4WD vehicles although you want to drive in snowy regions during winter
  • You can’t make credit card payments
  • Sometimes you don’t even know exactly what kind of a car you are hiring until you actually get to the rent-a-car place


I can only imagine your nightmare to go through without being able to read or speak Japanese.


This time there isn’t a single thing I can do for you to help out or ease your situation. The enemy is so huge, I’m just a tiny dot on a map.

Actually, at least I’ve raised your awareness of this renting a car situation in Japan, so that’s something, a bit of contribution to the travellers’ world, I want to believe.

I just have a tinge of doubt in my mind, that there is something I don’t know but you know, about renting a car in Japan. It could be in fact very easy and I’m just missing something.

If so, please tell me what I can do to make my life easier!

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Kuruma Wo Mikka Kan Karitai Desu 車を3日間借りたいです = I want to rent a car for 3 days

Listen multiple times and you’ll get this!