☆Oh, no!

On the first Sunday since I started to drive a left-hand drive car on the right side of the road in the U.S, I decided to go somewhere far away from the city. I was still scared to go to Manhattan, but I wanted to go somewhere far away and not that urban. However, it would not be different than driving around here if I went around the tourist spots in the countryside and it were a one-lane road. I thought it would be better to go to an outlet that is somewhat in the city and requires a bit of highway driving to get there, so I opened up my New York Guide Book (with “Shima Kosaku” on the cover!) and set my sights on a place called Bergen Town Center in New Jersey. I checked Yahoo map and found that it would take 1 hour and 6 minutes by car. (I then told everyone about this story, and they told me that there is a famous outlet called Woodbury to which all Japanese tourists to New York go, which is 30 minutes away from Hyde Park, where the sake brewery is located. I was asked, “Why didn't you go there?” I didn't know anything about Woodbury. At this point, you can guess where this story is going to end.)

When I actually set out, it turned out to be a great adventure. A tale of great difficulty might be a more appropriate phrase to say. When I got on the highway from the local road, we already had faced a difficulty. I had to turn around several times after passing through interchanges because I didn't know from and to which lanes, where to change on the highway. It is not so difficult to drive in Japan because I know the general geography of Japan and where I am now, but the geography of the U.S. is not in my head! To make matters worse, everything is written in English!

It was supposed to take just a little over an hour, but it took two and a half hours. When I finally arrived, the outlet parking lot was full and overflowing with cars and people waiting to park. I thought to myself, "This is no good," and returned home without doing anything. (My wallet might be happy.) However, I made a steady mistake on my way back, and finally found Route 9 going north along the Hudson River. It took me two and a half hours to get back, driving on local roads for a long time.

After that "painful" experience, I decided to use car navigation. However, the car navigation in my American Mustang only displayed in English. Therefore, in order to change to the car navigation that explains in Japanese, I need to link my smartphone with the car navigation system. However, I am an old man over 70 years old, so the idea of linking my phone and the car navigation system is a gibberish to me. I asked Mr. M (my staff in Asahi Shuzo) to help me set it up, and I managed to get it working.

 I may be able to tell you about my Manhattan driving saga in the future. Well, please wait, with a glass of DASSAI in your hand, for this "stupid old man" and more failure stories.

(By the way, I went to a Japanese supermarket called "Mitsuwa" in New Jersey yesterday. The pork fins were the utmost. A pork cutlet I made was just as good as a pork fillet cutlet made by the specialty restaurant.)


☆Countryside in Japan and the U.S. is the same.

Mr. Rick, the Vice President of CIA (Culinary Institute of America), whom I had asked to help push for the approval of the U.S. sake brewing license as soon as possible, came to tell me the other day that the license had been approved and that I should submit the production plan to the authorities. At that time, Mr. Rick smiled and spoke to me, "I often see a white Mustang these days." "That's the Chairman's Mustang, isn't it?

I said, "Yes, that's right. But if you see that white Mustang, please be careful. Because these days it is mainly my wife who is driving it. Her driving is quite dangerous and she drives at very slow speed. He laughed and said, "But I'm sure your wife will be better to drive than you soon" (I think he said this, but my English is not good enough to understand the details). If she could do as he said, I wouldn't have to spend 15 minutes in fear every morning and evening. . .)

But I was born and raised in the countryside, so I've always experienced that stories spread quickly in the countryside. I felt this might be the same whether in the East or the West. Mr. Rick had long known the fact that I drive a white Mustang. Lately, I've gotten used to driving, and I sometimes change lanes too aggressively. I have to be careful.


☆How to live life twice as long

It has been a month and a half since I came to the U.S., but somehow it feels like three months have passed. Every day I experience a lot of unfamiliar and different things from Japan. On top of that, I, who cannot speak English, have to communicate in various occasions, not only at work, but also when shopping and traveling. My brain, which is not very good at all, is also working at full speed.

When I live as mentioned, I feel a week passes very slowly. This is actually a good experience. How about you? It is stressful and seems to be the opposite of the quiet retirement of ordinary Japanese elderly people, but it makes you feel that your life lasts twice as long.