Snow and the British Consulate

Snow in Ashiya

Snow in Ashiya

I proposed to my girlfriend last year at the (almost) top of the Hep5 Wheel in Umeda, Osaka (I say almost top as I mistimed it, and we had to wait to get to the top before I got a reply, maybe if she was going to say know she wouldn’t have made me wait…maybe). Anyway, due to timing complications with getting married in England (you have to be in the country for 2 weeks before you can get married, and I only get 10 days holiday in Japan, hence as they say here “Muri” -impossible), we decided to get legally married here and have a big fake wedding in England in July.

As part of the process of getting hitched in Japan I have to give lots of money to the British Consulate so they can pin a notice of marriage on a board on the 19th floor of a building downtown that nobody will find (the Consulate sign on the building is almost invisible next to the garish bright reds and whites of the other companies housed there), and then they issue me (for another wad of cash) with a Notice of No-Impediment.

Which I then take to the City Hall where I live with some more forms and my fiancee and I are thence onwards legally married 🙂

It’s the first time I’ve been to a Consulate Office, not sure what the difference between that and an embassy is, but I was a little bit surprised. It’s hidden away on the 19th floor of a building and seemingly staffed entirely by Japanese. (At least the 4 female staff that I came into contact with). I sat in the very nice reception area showing BBC News, while next to me 3 Japanese salarymen were trying to sell one of the consular staff some carpet. It takes 3 people to sell carpet here in Japan. Just like it takes 3 people to guide cars into Supermarket car-parks. Everyone gets a job! 🙂

Another lady came out and asked me for my passport etc which she whisked away to photocopy I guess, and then a few minutes later she came back and led me into an interview room. It was like one of those glass divide booths you see in American prisons on tv (and I guess in real life if you’re unfortunate enough to experience that). She left the room, went round the back and came in through the door on the other side of the glass divide.
It was then I noticed the old framed photo of the Queen and the Duke, at a quirky angle, on the back wall. Very British. Would have preferred the one you find in pubs in England of the Queen Mum pulling a pint though.

She took my cash, mis-spelt my name on the receipt and left. Then another lady came in and we did the whole affadavit thing. I had to put my finger on my signature with my right hand, and my left hand rested on a Bible while I swore that this was my name, etc. She seemed happy enough with that. And it was all over. My notice goes up on the board for 21 days after which they will send me my document.

I checked out the board on the way out, and there were about 10 other notices up there. All but one of them were English Teachers (the other was an “artist” – probably a part-time English teacher).
Not sure what that says about English Teachers here or the range of job opportunities for foreigners, but anyway.

Apart from the 30 minute wait beforehand (I always get places early), the whole thing took 5 minutes and £126.

Gonna be married in about a month – might time it for White Day (the Japanese 2nd Valentines day, 14th Feb is for girls to give blokes chocolates, the 14th March – White Day – is for blokes to give the chocolate giving girls even more expensive presents back – 3x the value according to my girlfriend! Yikes).

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