Girl meets car

Today I visited the Toyota Technical Centre in Toyota City. It’s an impressive grey building, where ‘the engineering magic’ is supposed to happen. The lobby is made up of shiny grey and white surfaces, filled with salarymen dressed in white, grey and black. Are you starting to get the picture?

Toyota technical centre lobby

Toyota Technical Centre lobby

However, nobody notices these surroundings when entering. Because inside the lobby, there is a Lexus LFA on display. Half of the readers of this blog will probably react with ‘OMG!!! A real-life LFA!’. The other half will probably think ‘A what???’. The LFA is a super sports car, made by Lexus, which is part of the Toyota Motor Company.

Girl meets car - the Lexus LFA

Girl meets car – the Lexus LFA

Even if you don’t care about cars at all, you have to admire the sophisticated design and beautiful lines that shape the car. If you want to understand what all the fuss is about, you should watch the Top Gear review of this car. After watching this review, even people who don’t know anything about cars – like me – will get excited.

Lost in Japan

A collegue of Dennis recommended a nice ramen restaurant to us. Thursday evening we decided to check it out. We consulted the restaurant’s website and concluded that it should be about 30 min. by car. The only thing we needed was the restaurant’s telephone number, to input into the gps. Japanese navigation systems can recognize telephone numbers and connect them to locations. Very convenient in a country where every address is made up out of a dozen of illegible characters. The restaurant is called Tsurukamedo and this is the address: 名古屋市緑区神の倉4丁目194番地  (to give you an idea of what we’re faced with on a daily basis).

Japanese gps

It was the first time we used the gps. We input the phone number and start driving. After 40 min. we arrive at the location where our gps says the restaurant should be. It’s a residential area. Clearly something went wrong. Dennis tries to remember the location from when he checked Google maps before leaving. We drive around for another 20 min., to no avail. The whole time it is raining non stop and the darkness outside gives a gloomy feel to our quest.

The rain and darkness give an ominous and at the same time romantic feel to our quest

Refusing to give up (we’re both quite stubborn), we stop at a convenience store to ask for directions.

conviencience store where Dennis is asking for directions

The personnel is prepared for this kind of situation. They have a map under the counter and even call the restaurant to ask for directions. Japanese people are very helpful. We are set in the right direction: 5 km closer to Toyota city than what the gps first  indicated. After stopping for directions a second time, we finally arrive at the restaurant – roughly 2hours after leaving in Toyota city.

Fortunately the ramen was worth the ordeal. We ate delicious ‘hakata ramen’.

hakata ramen

Interesting detail: you pay your dinner before entering the restaurant, by inserting money in a machine and indicating the desired dish. The machine then spits out a ticket, which you take inside and give to the waiter.

meal ticket machine

Parking space stolen

The apartment where we live assigns parking spaces to the residents. The rent for these spaces is included in the rent we pay for the apartment. However, when we got home last night (we had gone to a sushi restaurant by car), another car was standing in our parking space.

a grey Toyota with a lot of guts standing in our parking space

We were not sure what to do, as all the other unoccupied spots were of course property of someone else living in the building. Finally we decided to call the relocation agency and ask for advice. They notified the police and 15 minutes later, a very small car with three police agents crammed inside arrived.

the police arrives

The agents – 2 women and a man – get out and start examining the grey Toyota thouroughly: walking around the car, shining at it with flashlights and looking inside. The man starts saying a lot of things in very fast Japanese. Of course we don’t understand anything. Felipe, another expat living in our building who has been here longer, joins in to help translate. The police suggest we park elsewhere. We respond that that will be someone’s else spot and the problem will continue. ‘Saaa, that’s a difficult situation’ the policeofficer answers. After which he continues to suggest the same solution: we park elsewhere, if need be in a paying parking space somewhere.

Dennis talking to the police

Apparently they cannot touch the car, much less tow it. They won’t even write a ticket. After talking back and forth some more, we finally get him to write a paper (not an official document, just a white A4) saying ‘please do not park here again’. And that’s it. The police leave and we are left to find another parking space.

A little disappointing, I was expecting more from a police intervention. But atleast I got to see Japanese law enforcement in action. And take some cool pictures for the blog 🙂