Thursday, May 17, 2012

On the wrong side of the road

Drivers license in Japan.
So my latest project is getting my Japanese drivers license. For the past year I have had my international drivers permit. Unfortunately that only lasts for 1 year and my year is almost up, so I have to start the license process, which for Americans is a dreadful process.  For the citizens of countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Korea, and Canada, they can simply change their license in their hoe country into a Japanese license, no tests necessary. Yes they drive the same way in Canada as we do in America, so why can Canadians exchange their license and Americans can’t? Because not all of our states can agree, what’s new. Those countries have an agreement with Japan that says if Japanese people can go to that country and exchange their license, then those citizens can go to Japan and exchange their license. So because not all of the states agreed in America, we cannot simply exchange our license. Thus, Americans must take the Japanese drivers test.
In order to pass this test you need to do one of two things. If you had a license in your home country you need to go to the practice driving course and practice with a teacher for at least 3 hours; or if you did not have a license you have to take driving lessons that cost somewhere around $3000 dollars. Since I have had my license before I needed to practice on the course. The course that you practice on is exactly the same as the one on which you take your test. You must memorize the course and all the little details that go with it. The first time I practiced I had this very old grandpa teacher who spoke very old man Japanese that I didn’t understand (I like to call it オジべん: old grandpa speech/dialect). He wasn’t very helpful and tried to tell me everything all at once. He was giving directions like a machine gun, do this, do that, no wait you did this wrong, turn here, no here. I got so nervous that I started smiling, the old man says “why are you laughing!! this is a serious thing! pay attention!” I simply apologized but was really thinking BECAUSE I CANT DRIVE AND LISTEN TO YOU BARK ORDERS IN grandpa JAPANESE AT THE SAME TIME!!!
After I practiced I took the real test a couple of days later. I had to take time off work because the window to register and pay is only open from 1:00 to 1:30 Monday-Friday. First you have to give them copies of you passports old and new, alien registration card, old licenses, proof of residence in Japan, proof that you were in America with a valid license for more than 3 months before going to Japan, a receipt from a store where you blinked twice and bought gas in America. …Okay not the last one but it seems just as ridiculous.
So I got my copies and went to the license building  and handed in my papers. The guy at the front tried to give me a hard time about whether I was in America for 3 month prior or not, but stamps in my passport proved that luckily. After that I waited 2 hours to take the paper test that was translated into strange English (If you didn’t know, in Japan they drive on the left side of the street and the steering wheel is on the left side of the street, you can’t turn right on red and you must stop before train tracks). I passed and waited 2 more hours to take the driving test with all the other foreigners. This man from Bangladesh went before me and did awful so I though I had a good shot to pass. After the test they write who on a whiteboard and show us. I failed but that was to be expected. Oh don’t be so negative some may say. It’s not negativity but almost a FACT that people don’t pass their first time. The test is very strict and the proctor can fail you for any reason and they do their best to find a reason big or small. I asked this woman from Thailand how many times she took the test and she said 15. 15 times!! I don’t have the time or money to take the test that many times!
So this past Sunday I practiced the course again and I am taking the test this Tuesday hoping to pass, as I need a car to get to work! here’s to a better outcome this time around!

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