A Journey on Wheels


In the realm of Japanese roads, my journey has taken an exciting turn, transitioning from the world of Kei cars to the beloved charm of BMW. It all began with my trusty Mazda AZ Wagon, a compact and efficient companion that served me well during my time in Japan.

Kei cars, known for their lightweight construction and 660cc engine capacity, offer numerous financial advantages, including low fuel consumption and affordable taxes and insurance. While they may lack the power and sturdiness of standard vehicles, they remain a popular choice. They are Japan's smallest highway-legal passenger cars.

I purchased the Kei car initially because I needed a car ASAP when I came to Japan in August 2019. I initially wanted a Mazda RX-8, but it was taking a while to find one on an auction site. So, I opted for the quickest, easiest, and cheapest option — the Mazda AZ Wagon. It also helped that I paid around USD 2000 for it (which I later realised that I had overpaid for it). It took a little while to get used to, but I quickly started to enjoy it.

However, as the biennial vehicle inspection (shaken, 車検) approached, I found myself seeking a change. My friend Rico and I had witnessed the steep costs associated with the inspection process, leading us to explore other options. Rico had gotten his inspection done the year prior and paid close to the initial price he bought the vehicle for. We both thought it was absurd. But we always had a hunch we were getting a bit ripped off. Luckily I don't have to go through the inspection seeing as I got rid of my Mazda just in time. Thanks to Takara, a friend with connections in the car industry, I had the opportunity to trade in my Kei car for a BMW 120i. I guess my love for BMWs never died.

Together, we scoured auction sites and swiftly found the perfect BMW to meet my desires. I handed over the cash, we sealed the deal and eagerly awaited the arrival of my new wheels from Saitama, in the Kanto region of Japan. While paperwork and formalities added a touch of complexity, the prospect of driving a BMW once again excited me.

During the process, Takara presented an enticing alternative: a BMW 130i. For a modest additional fee, I seized the chance to experience the enhanced performance of this beastly variation of the 1 Series. After a thrilling test drive, my decision was made. Both the 120i and 130i, 2007 models, held immense appeal.

As a proponent of buying used cars to avoid steep depreciation, I was delighted to discover that the 130i was in impeccable condition, boasting remarkably low mileage. It felt like a gift from the automotive gods. The performance, handling, and comfort of this machine exceeded my expectations, leaving me in awe of its capabilities. I pledged to take care of this beauty and hoped it would reciprocate the favour.

Admittedly, with its 3000cc engine, fuel consumption and car taxes may prove less forgiving. However, as a driver over the age of 26, the burden of car insurance is somewhat alleviated in Japan. With the practicalities in order, I eagerly anticipate embarking on thrilling adventures with my new companion, exploring the scenic wonders of Japan from behind the wheel of a car that truly resonates with my spirit.

Of course, no journey is complete without indulging in the cultural delights of the cuisine this country has to offer. Thanks to Dr Akura and my Japanese friends, I have been introduced to a diverse array of flavours and dishes that showcase the richness of Japanese gastronomy. Each meal becomes an opportunity to immerse myself further in the local culture, broadening my culinary horizons.

Before concluding, I would also like to take a moment to wish my lovely sister a heartfelt happy birthday which she celebrated on May 22nd. May her year be filled with love, joy, and unforgettable moments.

As I embark on this new chapter, bidding farewell to my Mazda AZ Wagon and embracing the thrill of BMW ownership again, I cannot help but feel blessed and fortunate. Life is a journey, and each turn of the wheel brings fresh experiences and opportunities for growth. Let's embrace the open road, relishing the adventures that await us.