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Adventures in Shiiba - July 1994
Erik Kassebaum

Cars and Shiiba-ben?

This month I've decided to write on two very different topics Cars and Dialects. Why these two? Good question.


I have lived without a car for almost a year. In terms of my life, not having a car has been a very dramatic change. I've been driving since I was about 16 1/2 years old. During that time I've had two Toyota Corollas and an old MGB convertible. I've driven about 280,000 kilometers and have never had a ticket or an accident.

I'm writing about cars because I am in the process of trying to purchase a used car. Too be quite honest the process has been very difficult. I thought California's rules regarding the sale of cars to be a bit difficult and the fees to be a bit high. Now, on the eve of paying 240,000 yen for a used Nissan March I feel as though California has a very reasonably priced and easy to use system.

Shakken does not exist in California and there is no need to prove that you have a place to park your car. Annual license fees are based upon the value and age of your car and average 10,000 yen. When you buy a car you pay a 7% tax and a fee of about 1000 yen for the change in vehicle registration. California requires smog tests every 2 years, but the average price for such is about 5000 yen.

For me, the cost of insurance is about the same as in California. However, In California there are fewer restrictions with respect to the age of people whom I might let drive my car. With a little luck I'll have my little blue March by the time you read this. By the way it only takes about an 30 minutes for the buyer and seller to fill out all of the forms. The California Department of Motor Vehicles has offices in most cities with more than 40,000 residents. It usually takes about an hour of waiting in line to get to the clerk who will process your paperwork. This last step takes about 3-5 minutes. In California, hours and minutes are how you measure time with respect to official forms and registration procedures. Here in Japan I think a calendar is probably better.

note: 100 yen = $1.00


I am interested Shiiba's dialects and would appreciate it if you could send me between 1 and 5 examples of your favorite words and/or short phrases. Don't be afraid to use colorful language. Please bring your examples to the Board of Education.