Deciding to go
is all very well, but what
about some action?
So the sums so far show us that we can probably make our dream trip come true. Hotels are booked but all still cancellable up to a couple of days before we’re due. Some things will need to be bought and paid for now so it’s time to reach for the card wallet and do the job in earnest.
Talking of cards reminds me that business cards were very big when I was there before. This is principally a holiday but we do have a production company that can operate anywhere so after a quick discussion we agree that a joint meishi would be a worthwhile investment. In one of the quickest searches ever up pops the excellently named Japanese business cards dot com. I approach them and a couple of others and their costs seem reasonable so I set about designing our card English one side, Japanese on the other. They translate them as well and send a proof. I asked a Japanese speaking contact to tell me what I, Dee and the company did from just the Japanese side and the translation was spot on. So here we go handing out meishi – with both hands of course as etiquette dictates – to all and sundry. As it’s a joint card maybe we should hold one corner each as we hand them over. The guide doesn’t cover that. Here’s what it looks like:
That’s one task ticked off on the ever-growing Japan Trip Checklist that we both add to all the time. My next tasks are to try to sort out car rental and to buy our Japan Rail Passes. The former still proves rather tricksy – huge charges for one-way rentals, confusion over actual vehicle sizes because they are all called something different but we will get there.
The rail pass on the contrary couldn’t be easier. Buying online or in person are both possible. I opted for online, completed my form, paid the fees and received confirmation of both order and despatch. That’s when the trouble started. The letter needed a signature on a particularly wet Saturday when we were out. Red card from the postman to collect it from the delivery office. After two visits at which I was told “it hasn’t come back from the walk yet” I began to worry that our passes might not reach us but they were sent recorded delivery so insurance would cover them wouldn’t it?
Third time proved lucky although the muddy, torn envelope didn’t inspire confidence – “our post bags all leak” said the postie at the delivery office. Quickly home and open it up to find two gloriously sunny folders each with an exchange voucher each that will get us our actual rail passes in Japan. It feels like we’re on holiday already as the snow blankets the UK again.
So to car rental again. Given the different naming conventions of most vehicle manufacturers depending on the territory – who can forget the Mitsubishi Starion – we have no real idea what we are being offered in the quotations and whether our luggage will fit. I’d love to be backpacking and not have the bother but it might be a bit more of a struggle than either of us can cope with. So there will be suitcases and they need to be concealed within the boot when we’re on the road. We set off armed with a tape measure and case dimensions to visit local Nissan and Mazda dealerships. We have a Toyota Prius and know that we can fit them in there should we be offered one. But Nissan Tiida and Mazda 3 or 5 seem to be the most popular classes of vehicle on offer.
Having spent a lot of time filming in dealerships it was with a certain degree of embarrassment that I enter first Ancaster and then T W White and Sons with the sole purpose of checking out boot sizes (trunks for our US readers). The staff couldn’t have been more polite when faced with this odd request. It seems we don’t have the equivalent of the Tiida in the UK but that the Note is the most likely equivalent. At Mazda however the policy of naming by numbers pays off and we confirm that the Mazda 3 – considerably more economical in fuel and beneficial to our budget than the 5 or the Tiida – will fit the bill. We have a long chat to a self confessed boy-racer who reckons even he gets good fuel economy so the scales tip in favour of Mazda. One final email to Mazda Car Rental, which incidentally will change its name to Times Car Rental before we arrive, to get a re-quote for the Hokkaido leg and car hire can be ticked off the list.
Now to get some currency, check in and off we go!