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Monday, March 28, 2016

Toy Cars, Volcanoes And Marriage

Unless one lives in Japan, odds are you’ve never heard of Toyota's other line of cars. No, I’m not talking about their Lexus brand of high-end machines, but rather their more affordable low-end cars made originally for a female audience.

A pet Toyota. A toy car… small, pretty pastel colors (at least that was what I saw all over Japan many years ago), and an affordable piece of fluff that would allow the typical housewife to motor around town to do the daily shopping for groceries or clothes or maybe to go to the gym.

My girlfriend Noboko had one - a toy car, that is… thank god she was a tiny woman, and I hadn’t begun pumping iron yet. My chest is an additional 12-inches wider now than then, and I think that additional sizing would have made it difficult for Noboko to drive, what with me being forced on top of her… this time not on purpose. Actually, trust me… there was no room for us to have even thought about fooling around in her car.

Replete with a tiny engine, I recall the time we drove up the road to get to the top of the local mountain/live volcano about 10 kilometers north of my apartment. Noboko was 105 lb and I was 175 lb (no, really)… and I’m pretty sure that despite all of the school books she lugged around daily, it still wasn’t as heavy as me… and so that little car of hers chugged slowly along as it attempted to climb up the road.

I just kept thinking of that classic tale: The Little Engine That Could, puffing along an incline saying “I think I can! I think I can!”

That’s the difference between fantasy (talking choo-choo trains) and reality (toy car with weight heavier than a typical Japanese housewife laden with groceries).

We found a parking area not far up from the base of the mountain and hoofed it.

I think Noboko already knew her toy car (it smelled of Noboko’s wonderful apple blossom hair shampoo) wouldn’t have made it up the mountain, so she had already packed a lunch for two and planned a hike for us.

It was detailed somewhere in this blog many years ago, suffice to say that she could amble up the mountain like a goat, and I like a welcome mat. We somehow managed to loosen the well-worn public path, and when a fog rolled in and we couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of us, we found ourselves hugging the side of the volcano, loose scree at our feet waiting to slide us down to impending death, all the while trying to not place our handholds too close to the fissures venting hot volcanic gases.

Each of us refused to give into cowardice less we panic the other, and holding hands and saying silent prayers to whichever deity was in the vicinity, we made it.

I was also afraid of heights. I never mentioned that to Noboko, because I'm a stupid man who didn't want to look like a wimp in front of his tiny woman who was obviously too good to be with a guy like me.

It's true, at least in the looks department, but I make it up with personality out the ying-yang. That's karma for ya.

I promised myself I would never go hiking again (though Noboko had called it bush walking). Fifty pounds heavier (and 12 inches wider at the chest… and oh gods six more on the waist), I have kept that promise. Hmm. I’m outta potato chips.

Anyhow… where was I… no, not fog-bound on an active volcano… oh yes, the Toyota Toyopet toy cars.

I just wanted to show you all this very cool looking Pokemon-themed Toyopet that made an appearance at the 2014 Tokyo Toy Show. Yes... two years ago. I've been busy.

I just want to say that if my girlfriend or mistress showed up in a car that looked like this, I think I would divorce my wife on the spot. I think I like the attention it would bring.

The Toyopet line has only been around since 2014… so obviously what Noboko was driving wasn’t from that line… but really, those toy cars are a staple in Japan.

This is Fennekin aka Fokko in Japan - the other Pokemon-themed Toyopet car at the 2014 Tokyo Toy Show.
For an American counterpart… there was the Nissan Micra. The Smart Car is the current successor, though us westerners get gypped… in Germany I saw a sports car version, and it looked great.

Andrew Joseph

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