The CarNichiWa Story is a Love Story – A Tribute To My Sweetheart Tamami Laser

By Steve Laser

The story of our website is truly a love story. It’s the love between a husband and wife, the love of all things automotive, and the love of travel and culture. Today, it is a celebration of life. This story is a tribute to my sweetheart, Tamami Laser, who passed away earlier this year.

We had a wonderful life together for more than 30 years. She was a kind, sweet, gentle, smart, caring, loving and beautiful woman. She had many extraordinary talents. She was bilingual, excellent with numbers, had a great sense of humor, an appreciation for the arts, and a love for animals – especially dogs. (Above photo location: Yaizu, Shizuoka, Japan)

Tamami was born in Japan and was part of a very large family. She loved Japan, and also loved America. So after graduating from college, and working for several years, she decided to move here. We met in the early 1990s through a mutual friend. It was truly love at first sight.

We had many common interests and started dating. I was interested in Japanese language, culture and cuisine, and she, of course, was an expert in all of these areas, and more. And she also liked cars!

We made our first trip to Japan together the following year. I had the honor of meeting her family, and they are very kind, generous and sweet people. So during that trip, I asked Tamami, “Kekkon shite kuremasen ka? (will you marry me?),” and she replied, “Sure!” We decided to get married the following year.

That trip to Japan was also a great opportunity to see many amazing and historical places. Thanks to her family, we visited some truly beautiful sites, like the one shown above. We also had the chance to attend the biennial Tokyo Motor Show.

During that trip, her favorite car was the Toyota Sprinter Carib, an all-wheel-drive wagon, that belonged to our family in Japan. (This model was called the Corolla All-Trac in the states.)

We made the first of many visits over the years to the wonderful Toyota Automobile Museum in Nagakute. Among the displays of hundreds of classic and vintage vehicles, Tamami really liked this beautiful 1937 SS Jaguar 100.

While she liked all types of classic cars, vintage Jaguars were often her favorites. Back in the states, we attended many car shows over the years. At the Palos Verdes Concours in the 1990s, Tamami’s favorite car was this Jaguar XK140, on display by its owner.

Later on, I had the opportunity to test drive and report on many new vehicles. Tamami and I had a fun time with this Toyota MR2, a then-new second-generation model.

After writing about cars for decades, I decided to start our own automotive website nearly nine years ago. But what could we call it? After tossing names around for several weeks, I came up with “Car World News.” Tamami thought it was too plain, and suggested something more memorable. So with her help, we decided to call it “CarNichiWa.” It’s a spin on the Japanese phrase, “konnichiwa,” which means “good afternoon” or “good day.”

Tamami helped with many aspects of the website from the start, including planning, budgets, travel, translations, photography, and videos. Our family in Japan also assisted with story ideas, locations, vehicles, travel, and more. Over the years, we published more than 500 stories and 900 videos.

During one of many trips to Japan, we liked to relax and enjoy a meal at a local restaurant. In the above photo, we were dining at a small café in Kyoto. We also visited many of the historic sites in the city, including Kinkakuji (the Golden Temple), and Kiyomizu-dera, with its hillside location offering beautiful vistas of the city.

Tamami also loved visiting Hawaii and enjoying the island lifestyle. During a trip to Maui, our rental car was upgraded to a Cadillac SRX, and we toured the island in comfort and luxury. While sightseeing, we stopped at a roadside stand and sampled some freshly picked fruit. Tamami enjoyed the papaya and pineapple slices, and finished a snack before heading back on the road.

We took turns driving on the long and winding “Highway to Hana.” In the above photo, Tamami drove while I sat in the back seat and made a video to document our journey. The 50-mile-long stretch (Highway 36) has 620 curves, 59 bridges and beautiful scenery.

A few years later, we decided to start leasing cars and reporting about the experience. Our first lease was this Subaru Outback wagon. Tamami and I shared the driving for three years. The photo above shows her helping out with photography for one of our videos.

While she enjoyed contributing to the website, perhaps Tamami’s greatest passion was taking care of our dogs. She is shown above with our second generation of pets, at one of our favorite locations in Redondo Beach, Calif.

I am truly blessed to have had such a wonderful life together with my sweetheart. Thank you, Tamami, for sharing your life with me, for your kindness, and for your love. I miss you so much. And I love you always and forever.

Story © 2023

Photos © 2014-2022 and from the historical collection by the author