Originally published at Streetfilms.
If you want to buy a car in Japan, you’re a masochist. At least, that’s what I learned after spending a few days in Tokyo working on my latest Streetfilms project.
Owning a car in Japan appears to be a preposterous proposition, as Tokyo By Bike and the Cycling Embassy of Japan’s Byron Kidd explains in the video above. There are all kinds of restrictions put in place that make purchasing a vehicle a living nightmare.
Now that may seem like freedom-hampering to my fellow Americans, but in reality the restrictions on car ownership have forced Tokyo and the whole of Japan to keep their public transport in top shape. They even keep a train line running for just one passenger! As Sachiko Takao told me, they don’t really need cars in Japan.
She’s right. In my experience, I’m not sure how traversing the country could have been any easier thanks to Japan’s extensive public transit network. In many cases, traveling by train is by far the fastest option. I’m of course thinking of the famous Shinkansen bullet trains that rivaled everything I’ve seen out of Switzerland, another country neck and neck with Japan in terms of world leaders in public transport.
Granted I’m hardly the market for the auto industry. My hatred of all things murderous-metal, farting plumes of poisonous gas for passersby to inhale and risk disease is well-documented on this website. Still, Japan (and Tokyo especially) go far beyond catering to folks like me. They cater to everyone from the children who start taking transit alone at a young age to the elderly.
Transit is so inclusive in the land of the rising sun that I would seriously question the sanity of anyone who would go through the process of owning a car. Seriously, straight up burning money would be a more valuable use of time. I’d rather watch reruns of He-Man until my eyes bled than purchase a car in Japan.
To put it in perspective, car ownership is as discouraged in Tokyo as walking is in, well, many cities in the United States, unfortunately. Rather than restrict the people of Japan to one form of transportation, they have options, and it’s the way it should be around the globe.