Japan Drivers License

Well, we are officially licensed to drive in Japan.  They accept some foriegn licenses but not the US. It is a  nerve wracking experience and there are so many horror stories going around about taking the test that we put it off as long as possible.  We can drive on our International license for  a year, which we did.  To begin you have to take your drivers license translated into Japanese.  I took ours to a JAF office (similar to AAA).  Then you have to take a written test. Finding the DMV is  a challenge in itself. Imagine trying to go through a DMV office in the US and not being able to speak the language.  A little overwhelming.  I was lucky though, I stumbled upon people who could speak English and I had set of directions from a website that told me what to do and it went pretty smoothly.  You have to take a written test (in English thank goodness). There are 10 true/false questions that are pretty basic. You only need a  70%.  I passed. Sounds simple but the process is a  lot of wait here, go there, come back here, wait some more.  Very inefficient.  Anyway, I did this part before we left for the summer but was not able to schedule the driving part until we got back. Meanwhile Lyndon took his written part over the summer. He was able to schedule both of our driving tests for the same day. That was yesterday.  The driving test is on a closed course. Many people  fail several times before they pass the test.  It is not that it is so hard, but the instructor speaks Japanese and they are very picky.  There are s curves, L turns, traffic lights, cones as obstacles, you have to speed up, slow down, etc….  We started out with 13 people who also had licenses form other countries.  The instructor went through a 15 minute discussion on the course and how you would lose points (all in Japanese). You did get the point though that you needed to stop before the white line and it was important not to hit a curb but if you do don’t just keep driving over it, back up and start again.  There were some "dangerous pointos". You better not do those or you fail.  You go in sets of 2. One person drives, the other sits in the back and observes.  When the first finishes the back seat person gets in the front and the next number person sits in the back. It rotates like that until everyone goes. Lyndon was number 11 and I was 12 so I got to sit in the back when he drove but I also would  get to know if he passed before I went.No pressure though.  When the first man went , we knew there was trouble when he started the course then stopped, and then put on his seat belt.  He failed.  You get a yellow slip if you fail and an  OK sign if you pass.  The next three passed, the next three failed, the next one passed. Then it was Lyndon’s turn.  He passed. I was so nervous. What if I failed and Lyndon passed?  Anyway, I passed too. The next two failed, the next passed.  The last driver was the worst. We could see him stopping during the s turns, the guy in the car with him said he ran over the curb.  When he pulled in at the end he totally hit the curb and jammed on the brakes.  The instructor actually checked the car when they finished. He failed. So out of 13, 7 of us passed. Then it was a long process of ineffieciencies again. We finished all the driving around 10:30 but could not get the license until 1:00.  A group of us went to lunch. It was like we had bonded on Survivor (as Lyndon put it ).  I met some very interesting, intelligent people. Now we have another horrible picture on another drivers license.  Here are two sites if you want to see what the test or course were like.

"Here is a link to the site to practice your written test:http://www.japandriverslicense.com/test2.asp?rans=TrueAnd tips on how to pass even though the course is not the same  http://globalcompassion.com/driving"



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