Driving A Motor Scooter - Japan - 1965

Near the end of my stay in Japan, one of the trustees asked me if I’d like to use his motor scooter during the spring term. I was elated! No longer would I be a prisoner of the transit system, nor would I have to worry about carrying home the many groceries I bought for our three-person household. (You’ll remember that my house-mates, Margaret and Charlotte, were busy running our newly established international school, so I was relegated to buying our groceries and other necessities.) Now I could roam the city as I pleased, catching up on stores and sights I hadn’t seen before or ones I wished to re-visit and a handy basket attached to the rear would carry my purchases.

Before I could legally ride around I needed a license. Betty, the wife of one of the trustees, offered to take me to the local D.M.V. Early one afternoon we arrived at this municipal building crowded with many Japanese and with directions all in Japanese! Betty had brought her sons there before, so she knew her way around and spoke some Japanese – enough to get by here, anyway.

We stood in line and finally reached the counter for the ‘eye test’. I was required to ‘read’ a sign hung at the end of the counter and on a wall perpendicular to the counter for persons not familiar with Japanese. It had arrows going in different directions – up, down, to the left and to the right. The examiner used a pointer to indicate one of them and I would point in the symbol’s direction. What could be easier! I passed with flying colors. Then my photograph was taken – “no smiling, please!” A few days later this wonderful document arrived in the mail and I could legally ride around Japan on a motor scooter! Please notice there are many blank pages. I think they’re for recording traffic violations.

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Later I bought a light-weight plastic raincoat as a riding coat and used a scarf to cover my hair. I also wore my ski goggles as most of the roads were unpaved and the dust was terrible. For at least two months I could roam as I pleased, but always reminding myself to stay on the left side of the road. Fortunately I was never stopped and had a grand time exploring Nagoya.

Lois Learned
Southbury, CT © 2013

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