Japanese Driving License

After the other weeks disastrous attempt to get a Japanese driving license (national holiday…everything shut), made another, this time successful trip to Akashi.

Started at the crack of dawn again, and we were 2nd in the queue. Lucky really as it took ages. Tip for anyone trying to get a license, bring along the paper counterpart to the British photo license, that smooths things along (I didn’t but the nice man, eventually decided it was ok), and also, all your passports (mine was a second issue and he wanted to see the first) as I needed to prove that I lived in England for more than 3 months from when I got my British drivers license!??

Although we explained that we don’t get stamps when we re-enter Britain, so that wouldn’t prove anything anyway.
So the policeman (for it is all done by the police), copied out all my dates from stamps from other countries and calculated when I was out the country and therefore when I was in it.
Eventually he seemed satisfied.

Much more satisfied than the guy dealing with the poor Portugese guy next to me, who had a British license but a Portugese passport which lead to no end of confusion – this whole EU thing must confuse other countries.
In the end he either had to take a Japanese test (written and driving), or change the British one back to a Portugese and apply again. Don’t know what he went for as we left before (our application only taking 40 minutes).

Luckily for some reason the British license is given an exemption, so we don’t have to take a test, just an eye test, the only difficulty remembering to say “Blue” and not “Green” when shown the traffic light colour test. (The Japanese believe it’s blue for some reason 😉 )

Then we had to pay some cash (¥2500 ish), and wait till 1 o’clock (2 and a half hours), before we were all (about 100 Japanese and me – the only gaijin) given a lecture on (God knows what! – something to do with checking your license has no mistakes), then we had our photo taken – which annoyed me as I had to bring photos with me (for which I shaved, looked smartish) – that photo ended up in some filing system somewhere – today, I hadn’t shaved and was wearing a dodgy hoody (something I have only worn outside the house once…today)…doh! Still, after the lecture and photo session we paid more money (¥1650) and waited a bit longer before getting the license! Yay. I now have a Japanese license for 3 years.

It’s so much more complicated than in blighty – and not just because of the language. I seem to remember passing my test, and sending off details and a form and getting my license back in the post. None of this form filling, queueuing, lectures, queuing, etc. The Japanese love paperwork and formality.
Still, got to admit, they were pretty efficient when it actually came down to it.

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