Of drinking and not driving

Aya, her father, and a business associate met me at the small Awa Yamakawa train station. It was already getting dark, so we drove across the river to a restaurant in an old village for dinner. This was a reasonably traditional Japanese meal in a private room on a tatami mat with shoes removed.

Yoshina River, Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku © Harold Davis
Yoshina River, Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku © Harold Davis

My three companions had a beer each, but I passed and kept to tea with the meal. After we were through with dinner, and getting ready to drive me to the Japanese-style inn where I would be staying, Aya’s father asked me, “Do you have an international driver’s license?”

I did not, and frankly had no wish to drive on the left side of the road in a country with strange road signs that I could not read. But why?

It turns out that in Japan one beer puts you over the legal alcohol blood-level limit for driving. And the fines are enormous, 200,000 Yen (or about $2,000) for the driver and each passenger and the restaurant that served the booze and let them drive.

So what people do is call a special taxi service. The service shows up with two drivers—one for your car, and one for the taxi to follow it.

There’s not much drinking and driving in Japan!

Japanese Letterpress Slugs © Harold Davis
Japanese Letterpress Slugs © Harold Davis

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