On last Tuesday, the day after hiking to Jomon Sugi, Emi and I decided to rent a car so that we could see the Mononoke forest as well as visit an Onsen. Emi has been driving for just over a year, and when I say driving, I mean she has had a license. There just isn’t much need for driving in Japan, so only those in rural areas have cars, but everyone has a license because it is nearly impossible to get a job without one, or so I’m told. The end result is that although Emi has had a license for a year, she had driven fewer than 10 days. This makes riding with her a little frightening. 😉
So, after a terrifying drive up a twisty one-way road with washed out sections and speeding tourist buses, I decided that it was time for me to get behind the wheel.
As an aside, the Mononke forest is the really beautiful. The path isn’t nearly as long, and is less difficult over all, than the Jomon Sugi hike; although in some sections it is still quite steep. I think the hike was something like 4km, and took us 3 hours, though a lot of that was due to stiffness from the previous day’s hike. As beauty goes, for moss covered everything, Mononoke is a much better hike than the Jomon Sugi. There is a lot more to see than one big tree at the end.
The Mononoke forest is also considered to be very spiritual, in fact the movie Princess Mononoke is based on this forest. I’ve never seen this film, but I hear that it is good.
Anyway, back to driving! Sorry that I don’t have any pictures, but I was behind the wheel the whole time.
So, when we got back to the car, we traded places. At first I was a little worried because the steering wheel is on the wong side of the car, but I found that my brain adapted pretty quickly. Of course, staying in one lane is easy, but turning through intersections required a bit of extra thought so that I ended up in the correct lane in the end. The only thing that tripped me up was the turn signals. For those that don’t know, in addition to the wheel being on the right, a left-hand-drive car has the shifting lever on the left, but (fortunately) identical pedal positions. The turn signals are also on the other side of the wheel, so that every time I tried to signal a lane change, I turned on the windshield wipers instead!