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XK in the Land of the Rising Sun - Part Two

Philip and Yvonne Haslam are long time Twyford Moors customers having had their XK120 restored by us over ten years ago. Since then they have taken their trusty Jaguar on many trips around the world. Here's an update from their latest journey across Japan.

Jaguar XK120 on track in Japan"Hi all,

My how things move on, we now feel deeply embedded in the Japanese culture. We have enjoyed the first week of rallying , which has taken us through amazing countryside,  with great regularities ,  but above all, has involved us in some quite special moments. 

On the competitive front we have had some mixed results  -  starting off well, then, on the second day, a small motorised local shoebox pulled in front of us at about 5 kph. His speed didn't go up, but my blood pressure did. Nothing we could do would persuade him to move, so we lost 57 secs, which, for us, seemed a disaster. However, later in the day, we recalled that you have a 'joker' , which you can use to wipe out your worst score over a week. Salvation. The rest of the week has gone extremely well, and the regularity sections have been fast and furious over astounding roads which the organisers have found. Empty, steep, curly , leafy, and, with quite high speeds, challenging. One day, in pouring rain, we couldn't see the stop watch,  so, in addition to her other roles, Yvonne had to point our Wolfe torch ( thanks John), at the watch face. Nontheless somehow, we have reached Kyoto and found ourselves in a heady 3rd place overall , so no pressure then.

Japan constantly throws surprises at us, and we are daily seeing all types of amazing scenery, cultural issues and widely different approaches to everyday living. We have driven around the rim of a 'caldera ' ( anyone ?without reference to Google, ?), raced around rice fields, tottered through tea plantations, sallied with Samuri, ( their image slightly marred by the fact that they were wearing glasses !), gingerly drunk green tea ( not your normal green tea, but a Japanese variety which is a little like cold spinach soup ), sucked raw squid, and been pampered by geisha.

Haslam XK120 on tour in JapanOther things that have struck a strange cord - they still have 'smoking' bedrooms, but don't allow smoking on motorways. Some traffic lights are blue and not green. They have museums for the weirdest things - a Cup Noodle museum, and a Sand Museum. Speed limits everywhere are extremely cautious,  but no one  uses headlights in pouring rain. And, perhaps strangest of all, they don't serve crisps with beer.

Apparently,  Japanese people don't like either sun or water. Therefore,  whenever we arrive at an attractive cove or bay, where in most of the world you would find bijou coffee shops, delightful bistros dripping with flowers and candy flos stalls, here you simply see elderly , bent fishermen, rusty hulks of boats and an overwhelming aroma of dead fish. A very different nation !

Now, I am aware that I am starting to obsess about the toilets,  but listen to this. We came across a very up market model recently which had a button, marked 'privacy', for playing music. We are led to believe that this is a 'cover' to ensure that any offensive noises are adequately muffled. I also must confess to starting to get used to the heated seats. We don't have power available near our loos in Foolow, but I'm working on a plan for building a small log fire adjacent.............

Meals are, as I mentioned before, quite a challenge one way or another. Apart from the issues of strange ingredients   -  pickled plums, winding eggs, oak noodles etc. etc. -  we have now been confronted with the additional obstacle of dining on the floor. We have had a Japanese banquet,(dressed in Kimonos), and eaten at several restaurants,  where the tables are just a foot off the ground , ( presumably,  in days of yor,  there was a national shortage of table legs ). There are two issues here. Getting down on to the floor is relatively easy, but, after an hour or two's dining, getting back upright is a nightmare.  You have never heard so many people groaning simultaneously.  Secondly,  when you are sitting, with your legs at right angles, there is a tremendous strain on the back muscles, and after a period of time,  many people were almost hospitalised. 

Breakfast is weird and wonderful, as the fare tends to be last evenings offerings , but served up cold. At least we are becoming exceedingly dextrous with the chopsticks  -  I can almost do soup now.

On a somewhat more serious note, we stayed over in Hiroshima, and visited the Peace site. In anticipation,  the mood on the coach journey in was particularly sombre. Like most people, I was aware of the huge significance, but knew no details. On the 6th August 1945, at 8.15 am, the bomb exploded at 600 metres from the ground, and instantly, 140,000 people died within 4 kms. of the hypo-centre. The museum dedicated to the tragedy  powerfully demonstrated details of the awful effects, and Hiroshima' s efforts to come to terms with this world changing moment. It was a quiet and pensive group of us that set off on our journey northwards that lunchtime.

Jaguar XK120 touring JapanWe are daily coming across thousands of vending machines on the roadside,  offering everything imaginable,  from drinks to washing powder, to sandwiches,  to cigars, to underwear. Yesterday, in the middle of nowhere, I inserted my yen and instantly was rewarded with a tin of hot coffee  !! 

And finally, the car.

As ever, she's bounding along. The only trouble we have had is one of the rear indicators not working (again), and no dipped beam ( again). I tried my very best, and changed the bulb. But to no effect. Experts ( no. 5 as I recall !!)  arrive on the scene, and, after a severe poking about, tell me that the fault lies in a poor earth connection. Disconnection, followed by a lot of sandpapering of surfaces, and, eureka, problem solved !!

Sadly , however, just as we pulled into the hotel this evening, problem returns. Solution ? -  reach for Expert no. 6 .

Phillip san


Did I mention that Sheffield United are League One Champions !!"

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