Getting Gasoline in Japan
Thursday, June 29, 2006 Getting gas in Japan is an experience like no other. Taking one of our new Japanese friends home one night, we realized we were low on gas and decided to stop at a local gas station. Previously, all our gas has been purchased on Post so the price and experience is identical to anything back home in the US. But tonight, we were out on the economy and our gas tank was a runnin’ low.
We spotted a gas station and pulled into one of the bays. Standing at each pump are happy and helpful Japanese girls dressed in cute matching outfits — the girls at this particular station wore royal blue shorts and red shirts with a blue baseball cap. They made a big commotion when we pulled the car in — something like a big “welcome to our station.” Then they started with the questions. Why is it that when you don’t understand a language, the questions that are being put to you seem like they must be on a highly elevated intellectual level that will require from you, a lengthy, thought-out explanation? But, when you have a translator in your car who can tell you what’s being asked, the questions are boiled down to the simplest communication between two people. In this case, “Fill it up?” and “Regular, Ok?” Then finally, “Cash or credit.”
While our gas was being pumped, the girls circled around the car wiping windows, drying them with a soft towel and calling things out to one another. It was like a performance. The grand finale was when we paid the bill. The price of gas on the signs read, “132.” That’s Yen, so we’re thinking, “Wow, good price. Less than $1.32 a gallon.” But when our final total was “6200 Yen” — about $60 Bucks! — we quickly tried to wrack our brain to figure out the discrepancy. We paid the bill and thought we’d ask questions later. As it turns out, we forgot, momentarily, about the metric system. Gas is not sold in Gallons but in Liters. There are roughly 3.7 liters in one gallon, so 132 Yen/ Liter is approximately $5.00 a gallon. Gulp!
And that’s the story of the first — and last — time we visited a Japanese gas station.