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I'm an American living in Japan for three years while my wife is on assignment here. (Three years has come and gone so I should probably say three years and counting.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back in Japan

We've been back in Japan for about a week after a long (3 1/2 week) visit to the States. I'll get back to our trip in my next post, but first, I just renewed my driver's license today. It took about 6 hours from the time I left my house until I returned. The whole process is done in Japanese with many long lines. Very difficult and stressful for a struggling Japanese speaker. The fear of standing in a line for half an hour and finding out it was the wrong line was tantamount in my mind. I also had to sit through a 2 hour lecture (in Japanese) about driving safety. The seats were the old-fashioned two person wooden desk and seat combination more suited for third graders than American adults. Not comfortable! One Japanese girl made herself comfortable enough to fall asleep and was promptly admonished by the instructor. I was the only non-Japanese person in the room, so getting help from other foreigners who might be more conversant in Japanese was out of the question. There was one Japanese woman who spoke a little English and between her English and my Japanese, she was able to give me some helpful guidance. All in all, an exhausting experience.

I did stop for a quick beer and lunch on the way home so I guess the actual renewal process only took about 5 1/2 hours. The beer was definitely necessary and a small reward for my success! The funny thing is that the process went very smoothly and I'm delighted that it didn't take even more time. I guess I'm learning to adapt to Japanese bureaucracy.

Ja mata,


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