This was by far the easiest car shopping I've ever done. We looked at two lots and only spent a few hours picking out our cars. (The SOFA driver's test is also just as easy. No driving portion, just a basic multiple choice written exam.)
Most cars on the island are used and late 90's/early 00's models. The tsunami in mainland Japan raised prices to about $4000 - $5000 per car. We were lucky enough that when we sold our Passat in Virginia, we had almost enough to buy two cars here. (I didn't handle any of the business side of things, so I'm not sure how taxes, JDI, insurance, ect figure into the cars' price.)
There's no test drives, so basically you walk around the lot and just pick a car out based on looks/superficial features. I would have loved to get one of the smaller sub-compact cars (some of these streets are ridiculously narrow!) but I needed something big enough for both car seats and my BOB jogging stroller.
|My Honda Mobilio|
|Hubby's Honda Torneo|
Driving here is very different. Getting used to being on the wrong side of the road isn't too bad. Remembering that the windshield wipers are on the left and the turn signal is on the right always trips me up (very embarrassing on a bright, sunny day and you've turned the wipers on instead of the turn signal). I also keep mixing up my left and right while giving Chris directions. I guess I associate left turns with turning across traffic, so I'll usually tell him to turn left when the turn is actually a right.
The hardest part of driving here is getting used to zipping in and out of lanes. Lane lines here are treated more like suggestions. People will often be stopped on the side of the road and all the other drivers will simply swerve into the on-coming traffic lane to get around them. Same with people zooming around someone stopped to make a turn or a pedestrian walking in the road (happens all the time, especially on the smaller side streets).
Oh, and as an American, you're treated as a *professional* driver. If you're in an accident, no matter what it's probably going to be considered you're fault and could possible cause an international incident - so no pressure or anything!! lol