While blasting along the roads the other day in my new Nisan Micra SV, my son asked me if some cars had something on their engine that limited their speed.
I said “wife” and “cops”, and then smartly added that some cars had limiters on their engines that would not allow them to exceed a maximum pre-set speed.
I explained that these limiters were usually found on transport trucks, and set at 110 kph… it’s why, when you are on a two-lane highway and are about to pass a truck as you approach a hill, that truck will pull over to the passing lane and attempt to pass a slower truck in front of it.
As the hill begins, and now both lanes are trapped by one truck doing 109 kilometers per hour and the other doing 110 kilometers per hour, a long line of impatient car drivers piles up behind them - wondering, why, why dear god would that a-hole driver decide to make a pass just as he’s approaching a hill?
We all agree you can pass when you need to… just not a truck passing another truck on a hill when everyone involved has a governor/limiter.
It reminded me of a time back when I was in Japan between 1990-1993, and here’s tale I told my son, Hudson.
Mister Kanmaru - one of my bosses at the Ohtawara Board of Education (OBOE) had invited me to join himself, his wife and youngest son on a car trip up the mountains to do some sight seeing.
Seeing as how I wasn’t sleeping with anyone that week—so I’m guessing this was in my first year on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme in April-ish of 1991, as my girlfriend Ashley would break up with me for some reason every few weeks - just to keep me on my toes, I fear—I graciously accepted the kind offer of the Kanemaru family.
Kanemaru-san doesn’t speak much English, and the same for his wife and son, which was fine, because I hardly spoke any Japanese—just enough to get my face slapped nine out of 10 times… ahhh, but that tenth time… it was magic.
I didn’t mention any of the last two paragraphs to my son.
Anyhow… we drove in some direction for about three hours… driving at the speed of OMG, which I can tell you was 110 kilometers per hour.
I know, because I keep staring at the speedometer every 10 seconds.
The speed limit on the Japanese highways was a respectable 100 kph - same as in the Toronto area where I am from.
However, Kanearu-san… he decided he would drive 110 kph.
No big deal to me… I’ve driven at speeds that make me question why I am still alive.
The thing is, is that the car had a warning alarm built in to it… an alarm that would go off if the driver hit 110 kph or higher.
Ahhh… thank goodness we were just cut off…
Five hours there… and then two hours for a look-around
I have no problem with him wanting to speed, and could have put up with the bell ringing… but only 110kph?!
Speed-up, man! Speed-up!
I don’t know what is wrong with Japan, but at no time did Kanemaru-san’s wife, Kanemaru-san, say anything to her husband to cause him to drop to 109kph and thereby shut that annoying alarm up, or to pick up the speed so we can get the dumb, sweaty gaijin out of my front seat…
I actually talked to Kanemaru-san about it (not his wife) and asked if we could pull out the wire attached to the alarm… (we went through my English-Japanese dictionary word-by-word to get to my point)…
And Kanemaru-san (he not she) used his Japanese-English dictionary to say that if he could, he would, because it was driving him crazy.
So it bothered him too… and now he’s aware that it bothers me also.
After our three-hour look-around, broken down to 20 minutes to stand in line to get food, one hour to eat it, five minutes to pee—I think I was the only one who went, and then while I looked around with the missus and the boy, the Mister took a 20 minute nap! We had about an hour to look around.
Then we got back in the car, and headed home.
110 kph for the next three hours.
And if you think that is pretty amazing, consider that we just drove 110 kilometers every hour for 10 hours… and we didn’t stop for gas.
What the hell were we driving?
Was that 110kph the optimum speed to drive for six hours without needing to stop for fuel?
Or, could Kanemaru-san (dad, not mom) have taken it out at some point while we thought he was sleeping and gone and got some gas?
PS: Do you think my son was subtly asking me to slow down? I wasn’t speeding. I haven’t sped since the nine months and two weeks before he was born.
PPS: "My Ding-a-Ling" was my first exposure to Chuck Berry. I still have that 45RPM my dad bought all those years ago.