cars

How to double the value of your $10 car: Spend 30 minutes adding racing stripes!

Some of you may remember the fateful day last spring when our Japanese-language reporter Go bought what was probably the cheapest car in Japan by acquiring his current ride for just 980 yen (US $8.30). Nine months later, not only is his 1997 Mitsubishi Minica still firing on all three cylinders under its hood, but it recently passed its mandatory biennial safety inspection, called shaken in Japanese.

In celebration, Go treated the Minica to a wash for the first time since he drove it back to Tokyo from Nagoya. With a fresh coat of wax, it was looking better than ever, but Go still wasn’t 100-percent satisfied with the car’s appearance. See, Go believes the Mini is just an overall cooler car than the Minica, so he set out to transform the latter into the former using the finest vinyl sheets and magic markers he could find.

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Drive off In an official One Piece Nissan Serena

Nissan is collaborating with One Piece to offer a limited edition Serena Highway STAR S-HYBRID. Dubbed the “Thousand Serena,” a play on the Straw Hat Pirates’ Thousand Sunny ship, it features a special One Piece car wrap and hubcaps.

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The Toyota Isis: The car with the most unfortunate name in Japan

Toyota, being the largest, most internationalized of Japan’s automakers, tends to do a pretty decent job steering clear of picking car names that sound weird or shocking to non-Japanese consumers. Sure, its product lineup briefly included the Emina, but that only sounds gross if you’re too impatient to carefully read the letters in order.

Until now Toyota hasn’t had anything as unintentionally startling as the Mazda Bongo Friendee, Daihatsu Naked, or Nissan Fairlady. But if you’ve taken a look at Toyota’s Japanese website recently, you may have found yourself doing a double-take as you noticed one of its current offerings seems to share its name with a well-known jihadist rebel group.

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Toyota Isis.

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One story, three versions. Toyota ads evoke our emotions, remind us we’re all human [Video]

First loves, first cars, best friends and beautiful scenery; Toyota is hitting all the right notes with their newest car commercials/web movies, entitled “The World is One,”  for their “Toyota Next One” campaign. The commercial itself is really cute, if not borderline risqué for a second, but when you learn that there are actually three versions of the exact same commercial, taking place in three different countries, the charm is taken to a whole new level and gives new meaning to the tagline at the end, “We’re all driving on the same road.”

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Japanese women weigh in: Which cars do they not want to see their boyfriends driving?

A couple of days ago, we heard the guys’ opinions on the ladies, so now it’s time to hear what the ladies think about the men – specifically, about the kinds of cars men drive. Japan’s MyNavi Woman took a survey asking Japanese women which cars they wouldn’t like for their boyfriends to drive, and some of their responses you may find a bit surprising!

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No Photoshop here! Chinese city really does have a two-headed, German-made fire truck

Speed is of the utmost importance for emergency responders. When a fire breaks out, for instance, a delay in rescue workers arriving on-site can directly lead to lives being lost.

But while fire trucks have powerful, torquey engines that enable them to haul a full team and all of their firefighting equipment, they aren’t the most nimble vehicles when you need to bust a U-turn on a narrow road. Thankfully, some firefighters in China’s Nanjing City don’t have to worry about pulling off such complex maneuvers on their way to a blaze, thanks to their crazy-looking double-headed fire engines that can be driven in either direction.

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Tokyo Disney Resort’s amazing customer service includes safety checks of guests’ cars

Aside from the costumed characters and colorful parades, one of the things that makes Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea so popular is the stellar customer service they offer. Even in a country where service is almost universally prompt and polite, the Tokyo Disney Resort goes above and beyond the norm in providing an unrivaled level of hospitality to guests.

As a matter of fact, Tokyo Disney Resort employees are so dedicated that not only will they make sure you enjoy yourself during your stay, they’ll even help ensure you have a safe trip home, as one park attendee recently found out when the parking lot staff performed a spot check of her car and alerted her to a potential safety hazard.

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Get ready for yuru-kyara car plates! Japan to lift ban on colourful regional license plates

In larger countries like Australia and the United States, vehicle registration is carried out at the state level. This has long allowed each state to produce distinctive designs, including slogans or iconic imagery on number plates. In little Japan, however, vehicle registration is issued by the national government, so car owners have had no option to show their local pride with a regional license plate…until now.

The Ministry of Transport has announced that from next year, local authorities will be free to put colourful character designs on car number plates. Let’s have a look at some of the potential ways to pimp your Japanese numberplate!

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Mr. Sato goes to Tokyo Auto Salon 2015, forgets to take photos of the cars…

While Japan makes some rather unique cars, itasha aren’t the only custom cars in the country. From oni-kyan wheels for drifting to Chibatman, it sometimes seems like half of the vehicles in the country have been modified to extremes. But to get an idea of just how popular custom cars are in Japan, you’d need to head to Tokyo Auto Salon, which saw nearly 300,000 attendees last year!

This year, not wanting to miss out on all the fun, our brave Mr. Sato donned his most garish, chinpira outfit and headed down to look at some cars…and the women who get paid to stand next to them.

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Indian man still insists on driving backwards at full speed after eleven years

There’s a particular type of male who when in possession of a vehicle strives to make it the most outstanding machine on the road for better or for worse. This generally involves painting obnoxiously loud colors onto their cars, which have been fitted with even more obnoxiously loud speakers. The result is a visual and audible horror show only appreciated by those with a similar mindset.

And then we have Harpeet Devi of India who has reached new heights of annoying car customization. He had his transmission customized to have four speeds in reverse and only one speed forward so he can drive backwards everywhere he goes.

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Japan’s hydrogen fuel cell stations begin to open, but are they worth the switch?

With Toyota’s first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV), Mirai, now available, many wait to see if this revolutionary car with take off or fall flat in Japan. On 25 December, JX Nippon Oil & Energy began selling hydrogen for these new vehicles at a cost of 1,000 yen per kilogram (US$8/kg – $3.60/lb).

So is that worth giving up the pumps for…whatever hydrogen comes out of?

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Dirty Car Art is the perfect excuse not to wash your car ever again

Have you ever doodled in the dirt on your car before you finally got around to washing it? Or perhaps when you were younger you wrote something rude in the dust on the neighbour’s rear window? American artist Scott Wade took his doodling many steps further and now creates this stunning Dirty Car Art that you’d never want to wash off.

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Hugh Jackman stars, sings J-pop cover, and speaks Japanese in ads for Toyota【Videos】

When you get to be as big a company as Toyota, you can afford to go out and get A-list talent for your commercials. Over the last few years, the automaker’s created a series of ads starring boy band SMAP’s Takuya Kimura and film icon Beat Takeshi.

In the commercials, collectively known as ReBORN, Kimura and Takeshi play historical figures Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, reincarnated in modern Japan. The latest installment even has a special guest star as Hugh Jackman, Wolverine himself, shows up to help spread the word about Toyota’s newest eco-friendly cars.

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Man parks over sidewalk guide for the blind, gets lesson in manners from Okinawan fourth-grader

There’s still a lot of room for improvement regarding the availability of elevators in Japan’s train stations and other public facilities, but the country doesn’t have a totally sub-par record in helping the disabled retain their mobility. For example, on the sidewalks of most moderately large streets, you’ll find a row of bumps that operate as a guide for blind pedestrians, indicating not only any curves in the walkway but also warning of intersections and steps ahead.

Obviously, good manners dictate keeping the path clear, but in all that empty space one Japanese motorist saw a perfectly-placed parking spot. And while Japanese culture often errs on the side of not sticking your nose in other people’s business, it looks like one elementary school student couldn’t let this go without giving the driver a piece of his mind, even if the inconsiderate owner wasn’t anywhere to be found right then.

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New smartphone game turns car models into anime girls with model-worthy looks

For generations, automobile marketers have relied a tried and true method. Whether it’s an elegantly dressed woman stepping out of a luxury sedan in a TV commercial or a mini-skirted model draped over the hood of a sports coupe at an auto show, a quick way to make a car look appealing is by showing it next to an appealing-looking woman.

The company Autoc One is taking that concept one step further, though. What if, instead of showing a cute girl next to the car, you made the car itself a cute girl? You’d end up with something like Shanago Collection, Autoc One’s smartphone game starring anthropomorphized cars from Mazda, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, and more.

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Make your business memorable with a license plate phone number

There’s a lot to be seen and learned from your car seat while driving on the roads around Japan. While cat-patterned tail-lightsunique modes of communication and building your own Batman bike are some of the more obvious ways to get noticed, there are also more subtle yet equally effective ways to create an impact in traffic, and do a bit of advertising while you’re at it!

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Ouch! Ouch!! Ouch!!! Man in China hit by three cars while “crossing” the street

Context is everything in determining what constitutes a long time. For example, if your boss rewards you for finishing up a long, difficult project by permitting you to take a seven-second vacation, I’m guessing you’d find that amount of time to be less than sufficient. On the other hand, if I asked you to calm a hamster that’s both frenzied and weaponized by pressing it firmly against the warmth of your breast for seven seconds, I have a hunch that’s longer than you’d be willing to hold out for.

Seven seconds is also way too long to be chilling in the middle of the road as you cross the street. That sort of lollygagging is liable to get you hit by a car, or, if you’re this man in China, three of them.

While you won’t see any blood or gore, be aware that this article’s title is not a clever play on words, and it really does contain video of a dude getting hit by multiple automobiles.

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What happens when you mistake the brake for the accelerator in Japan

Parking can be tricky sometimes, but when you’re trying to manoeuvre a large vehicle around tight spaces in a Japanese carpark, things can get a little scary.

Thankfully nobody was hurt in the accident pictured above, yet after the photo was posted on Twitter there was one thing everyone wanted to know: how come the rear wheels were hanging in mid-air?

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Things to pick up at 7-Eleven: Milk, melon bread, Evangelion sports car

Last summer, we thought the heat might have been getting to the executives at 7-Eleven. Sure, offering two-meter (six-foot, seven-inch) tall Evangelion statues as special promotional prizes was a cool idea and all, but did they really expect anyone to pony up the 1,836,000 yen (US$16,000) they were asking for the 25 more giant figures they was selling outright?

Well, not only did all 25 of those Eva statues find homes, they sold out in just two minutes. Emboldened by that success, 7-Eleven has teamed up once again with the hit anime franchise to release the most expensive item the convenience store has ever sold: the Evangelion car.

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Want to see right through your car? Amazing video projection system lets drivers do just that

Almost all of my time behind the wheel has been in a small, two-seat convertible. This has really spoiled me, in that whenever I find myself in the driver’s seat of a fixed-top, full-sized car, I can’t help but wish for better visibility because of how many lines of sight get cut off by the car’s structure itself.

A team of Japanese researchers has solved this problem, though, with a clever system that allows the driver to see right through a car’s side panels and back seat.

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