The phrase 'mottainai' is a common Japanese phrase used to describe wasteful situations. I often hear it when school lunch goes unfinished. Or, perhaps, when shoes are thrown out because they were found on the back porch upon moving in.
A friend of mine moved to a different apartment, discarding old spices (that had probably been in the kitchen for years). His garbage bags of seemingly useful condiments did not go unnoticed and he said he heard a series of "mottainai" in his move.
I sort my garbage into six different types. This is a fairly common number. And to throw out any large appliance one must pay a fee. Japan claims that this is because they are eco with a "mottainai" mantra.
BUT I have to pay $1200 to KEEP an old car that is running perfectly.
Every two years Japanese cars must have a sort of inspection to renew the shaken. My shaken ended May 13th. When I went to the repair shop to get my shaken renewed I was laughed at and told my car should be scrap. Everyone thought it ridiculous to spend that amount of money on that car. Especially because it has a dent in it.
Shaken simply exists to keep old cars like mine off the road in Japan.
It is hard to justify spending $12oo on a car when I will be leaving in two months and cannot find anyone who wants to buy it from me. And when I realized I would have to pay a $370 car tax and renew my expensive car insurance to keep my car I gave in and decided to scrap it.
Hopefully Japanese society is happy now that I got rid of a perfectly good car that has (in my opinion) aged gracefully.
Sending this car to the junkyard is the most wasteful thing I have ever been a part of. But I was not willing to give up $1800 to prevent this waste.
Japan is priding itself on not committing the "mottainai" crime as everyone drives around in new cars and refuses to waste rice from school lunch but will walk away from sashimi at a work party.
So I gave over my car keys today and some man with bad teeth in dirty mechanic's clothes will come pick it up tomorrow.
A lot of kilometers where put on that car. By some people that I never even met. I put about 40,000 of those kilometers on it. I drove myself to work almost everyday. Happy to not have to rely on someone else to get me there when I have to rely on other people to help me with virtually everything else I do. I spent Monday mornings driving across Tokushima, after spending Sunday nights eating relaxing dinners in the company of a friend. I drove about an hour from home on solo thrift store trips when loneliness was heavy and used clothing was as familiar as anything could get. I drove over mountains on Thursday nights to spend the evening with a family member and sleep in a bed.
One of the first seemingly adventurous trips I took in the Toyota one was up the narrow, gravel road to Hashikura temple.
The last was a trip around Kyushu.
When the Sunday of my 25th birthday weekend came my car had gone west to have thanksgiving with family, east to do karaoke with friends, west (again) to give a speech about Obama, back (a little east) to dance with smoke machines at a club, east to give Christmas gifts to orphans and finally back a little west toward home. With the end of that weekend my car was scattered with empty champagne bottles, birthday gifts from friends, birthday cards from students, wrapping paper, and probably some weird food.
Countless other adventures were had in that car. Some of which are so precious they will only exist in my handwritten journals. Some of which are just weird and I would not want to write about them on the internet.
Thus is the beginning of a series of memories that will be associated with Japan, more specifically Shikoku.
RIP Toyota Tercel
And what a waste.