運転免許証



You needn't do much more than search for 'japan drivers license' to see what a pain it can be to get your license here. I may as well throw my 2 cents in the pot.

Living in Japan is easy for the first year. Using your IDP and home country license is a breeze, you don't have to do anything. Unfortunately, after a year the grace of Japan wears out and you're forced to get a real Japanese license. For some this is easy. Countries like Japan that issue licenses through a single, national entity means that those two entities can communicate and agree that they hold potential drivers to the same standard. That means you can just show up, pay some cash and get going. Unfortunately for other countries, like the US, who issue licenses through 50 different bureaus or who don't hold their drivers to the same standard... it means a road test.

The entire experience can be frustrating. The first time I went, I was turned away because my paperwork wasn't in order... (although it actually was). Worst of all though is the amount of time it takes. You have to arrive between 1:00 and 1:30 and you don't get done until at least 6pm. The amount of time it takes has nothing to do with your performance, it just sucks for everyone. Everyone takes their driving test in small groups, and the results for the day are announced all at once.

The actual road test is interesting. It's a closed course, and everyone takes the exact same route and faces the exact same obstacles (save perhaps the stoplight changing). As such, the test isn't even so much about driving skill but as test of doing these certain maneuvers, in this certain order at this specific time. It's notoriously difficult, fewer than 30% of people pass it on their first time. I've met at least 2 people that have taken it more than 5 times each (so far...). Even the 30% number that I dug up on the internet seems high though. The two times that I took the test only 2 people passed each time, out of perhaps 30 drivers. Some days no one passes.

I was really blessed to have passed on my second try. But, it was a good lesson in patience. So much time is spent just sitting and waiting. The second time I took the test I came to the driving center with a book I hadn't read, and left with a book that I had. It was also a bit nostalgic. I was absolutely tickled when I saw my number written on the passing board. The only other person to pass that day screamed, and started crying tears of joy. I could relate to how she was feeling.

Perhaps even worse though is that even if you pass your test, you have to come back again to actually pick up your license... and it takes almost as long. So very much waiting.

But, it's over now and I'm now officially part of the cool kids' club.

updates

http://jet-7.net/gallery/
I updated the gallery. Just 30 pictures, don't get too excited.
I have to admit, that compared to Benin I've been totally lame about taking pictures. I'd say I'd try to be better, but it is a little bit annoying to whip the camera out all the time. I think it's because life here isn't really THAT different than in the US, so it's hard to motivate. I have been trying to take more pictures with my cell-phone, since I do have it all the time. But even that is annoying (mostly because the camera doesn't work very well anymore... one too many drops on the ground I suppose). At least it wouldn't be out of place though. Japanese people take pictures with their cell-phones like every 5 seconds.

Beyond that it's still rainy season, which means bouts of incredible heat followed by bouts of incredible rain. Supposedly it's on its way out, so that's nice. Or is it?

I was checking out the Kurabuchi page on Japanese wikipedia. I'd been quoting our population as around 5400 previously, but it looks like we're actually a bit smaller at 4,683. It was also interesting to know that we have an official village bird, tree and flower (Japanese bush-warbler, Japanese Cypress, and the Gold-banded Lily respectively) It was also interesting to compare the wikipedia articles for surrounding areas (Matsuida has a population of 16,715. I knew it was bigger, but didn't realize nearly 4 times bigger!)

In life we're now just waiting for summer to start. Right now just 7 more days of teaching until the it starts. That's exciting! It's really snuck up on me, and it's even harder to believe that I've been here nearly a year now.

In other anniversaries, it's been now a year since I left Benin. Wow...