I Get Around (Wheels, Part 1)

Driving! We’re Americans, so of course we have a car!

Mark arrived in Japan a few weeks before us, giving him the chance to get his license and buy a car prior to our arrival. Since importing U.S. cars is prohibitively expensive, Mark took part in the sacred ritual of overseas service: the lemon lot. He asked me for guidance before he took the leap. I gave him the following: Big enough for the four of us, Ruby, and some stuff. Preferably something that you can only find in Japan. Bonus points for a crazy color.

Even before he bought a car I had a name for it. I don’t normally name my cars, but the occasion seemed to demand it. So I started with the Japanese translation for lemon, which is…..remon. Really. You can check it here, and here. So Remy the Remon was the first draft name. It didn’t stick, though. I didn’t relish the thought of explaining over and over, “It’s really the way to say lemon in Japanese! I’m not being culturally insensitive!!”.

Mark ended up buying the beauty that you see: a 2004 Nissan Cube. Technically it’s not an only-in-Japan car, since it was available in the U.S. for a few years. But it tanked in the U.S., and it’s no longer available–so close enough.

Benji the orengi
Benji the Orenji

Once I saw the orange color I immediately ditched Remy the Remon but decided to stick with the citrus theme. So I present….Benji the Orenji!

Before we committed to the name I asked our Japanese realtor if benji means anything inappropriate in Japanese. Kato-san replied, “No, it’s a dog’s name.” “For us too!!!”. She was far too polite to say anything or even roll her eyes, but I’m sure that she filed this one away in her Those Crazy Americans file.

I have seen several other orange Cubes on base, and I always give an enthusiastic Benji wave. So far no one’s actually waved back. Yet.

Coming up: driving on the left, remembering to turn on the turn signal instead of the wipers before turning, and other adventures.

3 thoughts on “I Get Around (Wheels, Part 1)

  1. Jan M. Lorys

    Marta, when I was sent to (our) Germany back in the mid 80s with the Reserves, you could buy Polish “Polonezy” marked as “The car for your tour of duty” Remember that Poland was in the Warsaw Pact. I’m not sure if those cars were going to turn on you if the USSR decided to cross the border!


  2. Pingback: The Daijobu Chronicles, or Part One of When Your Neighbor Hits Your Piece of $!@>*^ Car – martayaki

  3. Pingback: I Get Around: Or, Let’s Buy a Tiny Car for $100,000 – martayaki

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