Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eco-friendly clean diesel Nissan X-Trail car

As I wrote in the previous post, from 20th to 22nd November hubby and I had been to Hamamatsu city in Shizuoka prefecture for kanreki celebration of father-in-law and also to hubby’s ancestral home in Ichinomiya city of Aichi prefecture. We made the entire trip by our car. We started from our home at about 12 noon on 20th November. After eight hours of car ride, overnight stay at a hotel in Chofu city in Tokyo suburbs, and again another six hours of car ride, we reached hubby’s ancestral home in Ichinomiya at about 1 pm on 21st November. After taking rest for about 10 minutes, hubby and his father went to a nearby Nissan car-dealer. My father-in-law purchased a new car named X-rail and presented it to hubby. All details about the car were already discussed previously with the dealer, and therefore hubby had to just go and pick up the car. Within an hour they returned back home with a brand new car. Later we went by father-in-law’s car to Hamamatsu city for Kanreki celebration. On our way to Hamamatsu city, we went to a used car-dealer agency and sold our old car Caldina. Detailed talk about this business was done between father-in-law and the dealer after a few days, and so we just left our old car at the dealer’s shop. I felt a bit sad to say good bye to our good old Caldina.
Good Bye Caldina

Owning and operating a car in Japan involves numerous expenses. These include compulsory inspections called shaken every two to three years, various taxes, mandatory and optional insurance, and many more. Shaken is a compulsory vehicle safety inspection program, which cars have to undergo every two years, except new cars, for which the first inspection is not due until three years after purchase. The shaken inspection system ensures that the cars are properly maintained, have not been illegally modified, and are safe to be on the road. This inspection typically costs around 200,000 Yen. However as vehicles get older, maintaining the cars at the standards required by the shaken inspection can become rather expensive. This is because most Japanese do not get involved in mechanical repairs except for a small tuning here and there, and as a result, mechanics usually charge extremely high prices. During the manufacturing of cars, most of the severe durability tests are carried out for 100,000 kilometers, which is taken as an index for the quality insurance of a car. So after a car has run for 100,000 kilometers, car parts may start breaking and getting damaged. The cost for repair work and shaken insurance of such a car increases tremendously, and so the Japanese people usually opt for a new car. However in the past 20 years, the quality of the cars has improved drastically and no big damage to the car parts occur even after it has run for 100,000 kilometers. In spite of this, most of the Japanese people opt for a new car. I guess it keeps the economy going. Hubby’s car had already run more than 100,000 kilometers about six months ago, although it was only a seven year old car. Therefore my father-in-law recommended hubby to buy a new car. In fact he presented a new car to hubby!

After much consideration and discussions with father-in-law, hubby bought eco-friendly clean diesel Nissan X-Trail 20GT compact crossover sport utility vehicle. X-Trail 20GT achieves a high fuel-efficiency of 15.2 km/l under 10-15 test mode operation of Japan, which represents an increase of approximately 30% in fuel economy over a 2.5-liter gasoline engine with the same power output. M9R clean diesel engine of the X-Trail is more economical to operate due to the lower price of diesel in Japan. The 2.0-liter M9R clean diesel engine has the power equivalency of a 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine, generating maximum power of 127kW/3750rpm and maximum torque of 360N.m/2000rpm. The engine employs advanced technologies to deliver high torque and powerful acceleration. M9R engine also complies with the stringent ‘Post New Long-term Regulations’ emission standards of Japan which stresses high environmental performance and meets the demands for cleaner emission standards globally. The engine emits far lower CO2 than a comparable 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine, thereby achieving excellent emissions performance. Emissions reduction measures include common rail system, diesel particulate filter, EGR cooler, lean NOx trap catalysts, and double swirl port. The engine design also emphasizes smooth, quiet operation, eliminating unpleasant noise and vibration associated with current diesel cars engines. Noise and vibration reduction measures include piezo injector, balancer shaft, highly rigid chassis, highly rigid engine mount brackets, and sound insulation glass. This blog post became slightly technical. I guess the researcher in me is still alive!
Welcome X-Trail

Hubby standing with X-Trail

X-Trail 20GT has a distinctive styling, and a versatile, convenient, and comfortable interior. The car has advanced scratch guard paint, which self-repairs minor scratches in the paint’s clear coat surface. The car has sporty seat fabric, step lamps, intelligent key, and six audio speakers. The control panel of the car is simply superb. The navigation system and stereo system controls as well as the heating and ventilation system controls are easily accessible from both the front seats. A bar graph on the panel displays the real-time fuel efficiency and consumption during driving.

1) Display panel, 2) navigation system and stereo system controls, 3) heater and ventilation controls, and 4) transmission

Yellow segment on the display panel shows the fuel consumption. Here it shows 30 km/liter.

Control panel and navigation system. Photo is taken at night.

Tachometer, LCD circular panel containing fuel gauge and outside temperature, and speedometer

Tachometer and speedometer at night

After kanreki celebration of father-in-law in Hamamatsu city, we returned back to hubby’s ancestral home in Ichinomiya at about 2.30 pm on 22nd November. Within an hour, hubby and I left Ichinomiya and started on a long ride back to Akita in our new car X-Trail. We reached Niigata city at about 8 pm and stayed overnight at a hotel. The next morning (23rd November) we continued our ride back to Akita. It was a pleasure to ride the car, which was very comfortable. It felt like a cruise ride. Almost the entire stretch of highway road from Niigata city to Akita was alongside the coastline of the Sea of Japan. We enjoyed beautiful scenic views throughout the way. We reached back home at about 2 pm.
Beautiful view of Sea of Japan coast

Another view of Sea of Japan

Me standing next to Sea of Japan

Hubby and Sea of Japan

Hubby and I love our environmentally-friendly and fuel-efficient Nissan X-Trail car. A few days ago, we went for a long drive. Nowadays it is snowing heavily in Akita prefecture. It was fun to remove snow from the car and then go for a drive surrounded by snow everywhere.
X-trail on snow covered ground

Hubby removing snow from the car

Hubby enjoying driving

Snow covered mountains alongside the road

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kanreki celebration of father-in-law

From 20th to 22nd November, hubby and I had been to Hamamatsu city of Shizuoka prefecture and hubby’s ancestral home in Ichinomiya city of Aichi prefecture. We made this entire trip by our car. On 20th November we started from our home at about 12 noon and reached Chofu city in the outskirts of Tokyo at about 7 pm. We stayed overnight at a hotel, and the next morning we continued our journey by car and reached hubby’s home in Ichinomiya at about 1 pm. After taking rest for 1.5 hours, my father-in-law, his wife, hubby, and I went by father-in-law’s car to Hamamatsu city. We reached a luxury hotel named Grand XIV Golf and Spa Resort Hamanako in Hamamatsu at about 4.30 pm. In the evening, kanreki celebration of father-in-law was held at a restaurant in this hotel, which was really a fun event.
Grand XIV Golf and Spa Resort Hamanako

Hotel driveway

Kanreki is held on the 60th birthday of a person, which is a great celebration in Japan and is traditionally hosted by the honoree's sons, daughters, and other close family members. The celebration of this feat has been popular since the Edo period. According to the Chinese tradition that is also followed in Japan, the sexagenary cycle that begins in the year of a person’s birth is completed in sixty years, and then the person returns to the same year and horoscope sign in which he/she was born. They begin the traditional cycle all over again. Kanreki is also known as honke-gaeri, which means the beginning of the second life cycle and return to a second childhood. A baby or a child in Japanese language is known as aka-chan or the red one. Aka mean red color. Therefore the person embarking on the next sexagenary cycle dons red colored clothes, which symbolizes the return to babyhood or rebirth. The traditional garb includes a red bouffant hat named eboshi, a red sleeveless vest named chanchanko, and a red seat cushion similar to those used by a newborn. Dressed in red, the person takes the seat of honor during the celebration, and his/her children, grandchildren, relatives, and friends wish him/her a happy new life and many more years of joy.

On 21st November, we had kanreki celebration of my father-in-law at a Chinese restaurant named Suiyou located inside Grand XIV Hamanako resort hotel. We reached the hotel at about 4.30 pm and the celebration was to begin at 5 pm. After checking into the hotel, hubby and I got only about ten minutes to refresh and change our clothes. Although the restaurant was inside the hotel premises, we were provided with a mini bus to go the restaurant. All others relatives were already present at the restaurant. It was an informal dinner party. We began by toasting to father-in-law’s long life and health. All of us congratulated him on his birthday and wished him many more years of happy life. Soon our dinner was served. The menu of the dinner was Chinese, which consisted of appetizers, soups, several main courses of fish, meat, and rice, and finally desserts. There was a free flow of alcohol throughout the dinner. Food was very delicious and we all enjoyed the meal.
Winter special appetizers and soup made with shark fin, crab, and white fungus

Two types of prawn dishes and stir-fried beef with Hamamatsu vegetables

Chinese fried rice and dessert platter

Father-in-law and his wife having dinner

Daughters of hubby’s sister having dinner

Hubby and sister-in-law’s husband having dinner

Sister-in-law and older daughter having dinner

Three sons of father-in-law’s wife enjoying dinner

All the relatives gave presents to father-in-law while we were mid way thorough our dinner. Hubby, being the eldest son (chonan), presented his father with a red colored kanreki set consisting of chanchanko vest, eboshi cap, and seat cushion. We had bought the kanreki set online, and the photo of the kanreki set shown here is taken from the website of the shop selling the set. We also presented father-in-law with golf apparel in red color. All other relatives also presented him with something in red color.
Kanreki set

Father-in-law wearing chanchanko vest

Father-in-law wearing eboshi hat and vest, and holding a folding fan

Father-in-law and red seat cushion

My sister-in-law’s (hubby’s sister) older daughter was very amused to see her grandfather wearing bright red clothes, and she had a lot of fun time with him. Soon everyone started chatting with each other. Hubby played with the two daughters of his sister for almost an hour. The kids have a lot of energy to run around, and hubby became rather tired playing with them. I took a photo with my sister-in-law, with hubby, and a group photo for the sake of memory.
Older daughter of sister-in-law having fun time with her grandfather

Hubby and younger daughter of his sister

Hubby and older daughter of his sister

Sister-in-law and I

Hubby and I

Group photo at the restaurant

The dinner was over by 8 pm and a mini bus took all of us back to the hotel. All other relatives went back to their respective rooms, while hubby and I explored the hotel. It was the first time that hubby and I stayed in such a grand luxurious resort hotel. We just cannot afford it. Father-in-law, a businessman, bore the expenses for five suites in the private resort for all the relatives. We would like to thank father-in-law for letting us stay for a day in such an expensive luxurious hotel. The hotel had an artful balance of contemporary elegance and modern design. The splendid white lobby was beautifully decorated. Artistic mirrors and lamps in the corridors were superb. There were several rooms in the hotel for playing various kinds of sports and games. We went to a Mahjong play room and a game center (amusement arcade). I played for a while at the game center and lost several thousand yen!
Me along with a few relatives in front of the hotel

Flower decoration at the hotel entrance

Hotel lounge

Front desk of the hotel

Me standing next to a mirror and decorative lamps in the hotel corridor

Mahjong play room

Game center

After exploring the charming hotel interior, hubby and I went to our suite. We had worn Indian dress for the Kanreki celebration party, and wished to take photos of us in the Indian dress. So hubby used the self timer mode of our camera and took a few photos of us. I took a few photos of hubby as he looked really handsome in ethnic sherwani and churidar. After some time we went for a walk outside the hotel. A hotel staff was kind enough to take a photo of hubby and me in front of a decorated Christmas tree. After about half an hour of walk, we returned to our suite and retired for the day.
Hubby and I wearing Indian dress

Hubby wearing Indian dress

Hubby and I standing next to a decorated Christmas tree

The next morning, we got up at about 7.30 am and had buffet breakfast with all other relatives at a convention hall named Crystal Lake located inside the hotel itself. The dinner was too heavy the previous day, and so I just had a few cups of coffee. After breakfast, hubby and I returned to our suite and enjoyed the beauty and luxury of our suite. Our suite was of the kind known as suite grade E1 type having a living room, a western style bedroom, a Japanese style room, and a luxurious bathroom with a Japanese style shower as well as a Jacuzzi bathtub. Television sets were there in the living room, Japanese style room, and bathroom! We could see the golf course from the balcony of our suite. Hubby wished to play there and looked so longingly at the course. In fact, father-in-law, his wife, and hubby were supposed to play golf later in the day. However, the plan was cancelled due to some other work that hubby and his father had. We wished we could have stayed a bit longer at the hotel. Hubby and I had a remarkable and memorable stay at the hotel. At about 10 am, father-in-law, his wife, hubby, and I checked out of the hotel, and returned by father-in-law’s car to Ichinomiya.

Suite living room

Western style bedroom

Japanese room

Suite bathroom

Golf course at the resort hotel

Another view of the golf course

Hubby, I, father-in-law, and his wife standing in front of the hotel

After reaching hubby’s ancestral home we all took rest for an hour. At about 2.30 pm we started back on our long drive to Akita by hubby’s car. Father-in-law had presented my hubby with a new car the previous day about which I will write in the next post.