The last visit to Japan brought lots of new and exciting experiences that I’ll write up over the coming weeks – including baseball and a stay at a traditional bed and breakfast – but whilst I continue to recover from jet-lag I’d like to post some assorted photos I took on my travels. It should come as little surprise to find out that these are images of various kinds of vehicles. There’s not much I can say about each of them beyond the few sentences that accompany each, but I felt like sharing them in any case.
This fake Ford Anglia is called the Toyota Origin. It was conceived as a tribute to the original Toyota Crown series from the 1960s, featuring period ‘suicide’ (i.e. wrong-way round) rear doors. Produced in limited numbers about ten years ago, you will probably not be shocked to hear that this never made it out of Japan.
This too is a car one is unlikely to see on British shores. The Daihatsu Midget. A narrow forward cabin has room for just one passenger – or two very thin ones – with the wider area at the rear carrying various bits of cargo. To my shame, I recognised this right away from its appearance in Gran Turismo 2, where they even had a cup for Midgets. In real life, though, they are intended solely as delivery trucks for small businesses – this one seems to be seeing service with a subsidiary of electronics giant Hitachi.
This bad boy carried my family and I round the island of Kyushu for two days. It’s a people carrier version of the Toyota Hiace workhorse van, fitted out with carpeted interior and ten super-comfortable passenger seats. Our version came with fetching white lace curtains and matching seat covers – which I later found out are called antimacassars. Despite the seventies-tastic interior, under the bonnet was a none-too-shabby 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, which made light work of Kyushu’s hills and hairpins even in spite of the presence of five weighty Brits in the cabin.
Owing to high import taxes, foreign cars are a real delicacy in Japan. Left hand drive cars in particular are sought after by automobile aficionados for their exotic characteristics. Even within Europe, the Lancia Delta HF Integrale ticks all the right boxes for car buffs – so it’s easy to imagine how sought-after something like this would be in a car enthusiast-rich country like Japan. This Rosso Corsa example was making its way through the blingin’ Omote-sando district at speed.
When I was in primary school, I used up all of our class’s light blue crayons doing an A3 drawing of a KLM Boeing 747. Granted, we were a poor little rural school with limited resources, but you get my point. I liked these planes. And fifteen years later I found myself finally traveling on one.
Regardless of how much, or how little, one knows about aircraft, the different liveries on offer around an airport surely won’t escape your attention. The KLM livery has been one of my favourites for as long as I can remember, the bright blue paint making their jets stand out without being too cluttered or obscuring the lines of the aircraft. The 747 may be a forty year-old design, but they don’t call it the Queen of the Skies for nothing.
The routing from Scotland to Japan took us through Seoul and onto an aircraft of Korean Air – a new airport and a new airline for me. Although we didn’t fly on one of Korean’s brand spanking new Airbus A380s, they were conspicuous in their presence around Incheon International. This one was being loaded ahead of a long trip to Frankfurt.
The super high-speed shinkansen network that links Japan’s cities together has recently been extended further south. It now pushes on past Hakata station in Fukuoka to reach Kagoshima down on the southern tip of Kyushu island. This bullet train runs from Osaka all the way to Kagoshima, and the introduction of a high-speed line slashes journey times between Fukuoka and Kagoshima from four hours to just two. Inside, it is plusher than business class of a long-haul jet – not that I would know what that looks like.
I know nothing about ships, but all of these were floating around when we took a teatime cruise round Yokohama and Tokyo Bay. Yokohama is one of the biggest ports in Japan if not Asia, so there were some big brutes out in the water.