Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Bad Monday Morning…

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

I saw this on my way to work this morning.
What a way to start the week…

Obon Special – Hiking in Sapporo

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Sapporo is literally a hiking paradise. There are a seemingly unlimited number of trails, all at a 20 to 30 minute ride from the downtown area. The first trail (top third of the map) we tried is called the Maruyama trail (2.7 km), and is situated in Maruyama Park (Chuou Ward), along route 89. You can also take the subway and get off at Maruyama Kouen station. It took us one hour and fifteen minutes round trip, and we had a great view of Sapporo at the top which is 225 metres high. The trail is really easy, and has many stairs. It does get quite steep and rocky at times.

The second trail (bottom two thirds of the map) we walked is part of a network of trails on mount Moiwa (Minami Ward), which totals 12.7 km. We started from the Kita no Sawa entrance, and it took us 30 minutes to get to a crossroad called Uma no Se (1.3 km). You can find that entrance in Kita no Sawa from route 82, at the end of a street called Miyama Doori. You can also get to that trail by bus getting off at the Kita no Sawa Kaikan Mae stop, but you’d have to walk quite a bit to get to it. We then proceeded to the top situated at an altitude of 531 m, by walking towards the Shimin Ski Jou entrance, which took us about 45 minutes (1.1 km). We found out with disappointment that there was a building with restaurants and a huge gift shop at the top. So much for hiking up a mountain! The view was even better than the previous trail, and we had lunch among a bunch of tourists who had come either by car or by bus. We then walked down the rest of that part of the trail, which took us just about an hour (2.5 km). We then walked another kilometre to route 230 where we took a taxi back to where we had left the car. The trail gets really steep and rocky at times, and has many stairs. The last part of the trail allowed us to see a beautiful view of the city among the mountains.

Top of Maruyama

Top of Moiwa

Compulsory Car Inspection

Thursday, August 10th, 2006

In Japan, car owners must submit their car for the infamous “shaken” (compulsory car inspection) three years after the car was bought brand new, and every two years after that. It’s akin to a regular tune-up, and is done to insure that cars are safe and properly maintained. So far, so good. But depending on the size of your engine, governmental taxes are ludicrously high, and it’s interesting to break down the price of my “shaken”.

Compulsory Insurance (which by the way doesn’t cover much): 31 720 yen
Weight Tax (the heavier, the more expensive): 37 800 yen
Stamp Fee (that’s right: it seems ink is really expensive in this case!): 1 100 yen
Handling fee (it must take hours!): 7 000 yen
General Inspection Fee (which by the way is entirely handled by the garage): 7 000 yen
Recycling Deposit (which you DON’T get back, and you have to pay about 30 000 yen when you scrap the car!): 12 920 yen
Consumption Tax (what, like it’s not enough already!?): 700 yen
Total: 98 240 yen (approximately $840 USD)

Add to that the actual fee charged by the garage for the tune-up, which was 42 980 yen, and there you go: 141 220 yen (approximately $1 200 USD). Yep, taxes are in fact more than twice as much as the actual tune-up fee, and it is illegal to drive a car with an expired “shaken”, which I think is nothing short of extortion. Grrrrr!