Went along to the license test center the next morning to see if I could renew my license - turns out that because I was late renewing it, my license became invalid indefinitely. But the process to get another one this time round was not as painful as I initially imagined.
Britain and Japan have some chummy thing going which means that British drivers license holders don't need to take any road tests to get a Japanese drivers license.
All I needed to do was to get my British drivers license translated into Japanese by the Japan Automobile Federation. The JAF then give me a document outlining my drivers license details in Japanese.
I then took this document to the drivers license test center, took an eye examination and was given my license on the same day - pretty painless.
There are services who help foreigners in Japan get or renew a license but I notice how they try to intimidate you by making a big thing out of getting one - thus encouraging you to pay for their services.
I personally would encourage all gaijin to go through the process for themselves - a great learning experience.
Next up is the eye test. In Japan, eye tests are done by showing you a "C" either facing left, right, up or down. You need to reply "ue" (up) if the gap of the "C" is facing up or "migi" (right) if the gap of the "C" is facing right etc.
"Hidari" = Left.
"Shita" = Down/Bottom.
"Shita-pai" = the bottom part of oppai.
This test takes less than 2 mins including lining up.
Then its back to my classroom to watch an incredibly depressing video. The aim of the video is to deter drunk driving. The short dorama was as follows:-
A young married man lives happily with his wife and kids. They live in a nice house which they just bought.
One day, hes out drinking with colleagues but gets a work related call. He's had a few pints of beer but heads to his car and try's to shake off the drowsiness by drinking tea and waiting it out.
He gets another call and decides that he can handle the car. It starts to rain heavily. After driving in the rain for a while, he hits two kids. He panics and drives off.
He later learns that one of the kids dies and the other paralyzed from the waist down for life.
He gives himself into the police after a few days. The young man is sent to jail for 5 years. But He also has to compensate the family of the deceased which ends up being over a billion yen (loadsa money with many trailing zeros).
His wife has to sell the house and she ends up doing arubaito part time jobs to make ends meet. Their children start turning out being affected by the incident. The little girl bites herself while the young boy rips up family photos. The mother cant take life anymore and jumps infront of a train to kill herself.
The young man learns of his wife's death while he is still in prison...
The final message of the story - just a small mistake is enough to ruins ones life forever - and not just ones own life but others too. Dont drink and drive.
I get my ticket stamped after two hours meaning that I can swap it for my new spanking drivers license.
A few mins to take in the scenery at the river nearby. If it wasn't for the lesson in class, I would have been out in less than half an hour.
My wife has a US drivers license that she acquired while we we living in Seattle. Unfortunately the "US and Japan" are not as chummy as "Britannia and Japan" and US license holders need to get a Japanese license from scratch (could be different now). She took lessons at a test center and then out on the roads with an instructor. Cant remember how many hours she done but passed first time.
This was very different to what it was like back in the UK. From day one, my lessons where done on real roads with real traffic and people.
Took me many hours before my instructor decided I was ready for a test. He kept insisting that I do a reverse-around-a-corner-and-park move properly. In all my years of driving, I have never had to do that move!
I ended up passing first time round too but was berry berry nervous. Was in tears when the instructor told me "congratulations" ^^;
Whats the driving lesson, license acquisition process like in your neck of the woods?
And a look at some of the booklets that I received that day. This map of Japan shows that the most traffic accidents have been happening in the Aichi prefecture.
Drivers in Tokyo are generally well mannered but I was pretty shocked at how people on Osaka drove - even the bus drivers! many of them seemed to have a "I'm first" attitude. Whats the general attitude of drivers in your area?