Life in Japan

Converting to a Japanese Driver’s Licence – Part 2 (+ 3 + 4)

27 December 2014

So here’s the follow-up to the Japanese driver licence story (more like fiasco).

22 DEC – Went to the Metropolitan Police Department to convert my driver’s licence, as detailed in this post.

23 DEC – Public holiday in Japan

24 DEC – Went to get stupid document to prove my nationality from the city office before traveling back to the Police Department.

Although the centre closes at 5pm, they stop accepting applications at 3pm. I was running late and cycled like a mad woman all the way there. I ran into the building like my life depended on it the moment I parked my bike and as I glanced at the clock as I approached the counter.

The staff at the counter, let’s call him SBE – special breed of evil civil servant, as my friend so aptly named him – looked at me and told me applications close at 3pm and were closed for the day.

I calmly pointed at the clock behind him and said it’s not 3pm yet.

SBE turned to look and swivelled back, the look of disappointment too clearly printed on his face as he said “Ahhh, there’s one minute left eh…”

HA. Take that!

I handed him my documents to him but as he took it, he said, “Ah but even still, there is a high possibility we cannot process your application today. We can only check your documents.”

I felt a surge of anger, but contained it as I asked why. He said my number was 21 and they were only on number 13 now.

8 people on the list.

2 hours to closing.


In the first place, why is there another deadline for the deadline for the application period?!!

When I tried to reason and said I travelled all the way here for this, he had the cheek to point to my address on my application form and say

But you live pretty close by.


Just because I live “nearby”, it’s justifiable to waste my time and make me come back again? You think my time is so worthless and I have nothing better to do??? For the record, nearby isn’t that nearby at all. It’s a 20-minute cycle from my place if I pedal quickly. Otherwise it’s more like a 25-30 minute cycle.

He tried to shoo me away and said to take a seat and wait to be called.

I stood in front of him flabbergasted and stared at him without a word. That, and I was panting and sweating from fatigue.

He spoke again, this time saying “Your application most definitely cannot be processed today. Only documents will be checked.” Oh? Changed from “high possibility” to “most definitely” now, eh?

SBE clearly hates me. This is the hands down the most awful person I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter in Japan.

I grabbed my documents and announced I was going home. As I stormed towards the elevator, he called out “Are you sure it’s ok?”

I didn’t even look back.

Today was a miscalculation on my part. I will not let this happen again.

25 Dec – The afternoon application period is open from 1-3pm. After yesterday’s disaster, I arrived at 1.15pm.

It’s the start of the period, so I should be safe!

… right?

I gingerly approached the counter and silently thanked the heavens that SBE wasn’t at the counter today.

It was another guy and he told me that due to the long queue, my application most likely cannot be processed today.




Seriously. Is the staff here screwing with me or something?!!

But I wasn’t as angry today because the attitude of the staff today is infinitely better than SBE. He explained that although I’m number 5, they haven’t even finished processing the applications from the morning, where they had 31 people.

He said I could wait but he cannot even guarantee if it will reach my turn.

After thinking about it and discussing it with Fu, I decided to go home. No sense in wasting my time here with such uncertainty.

26 DEC – Dragged myself out of bed at 7am. Made breakfast for Fu and then hurried to the centre.

I was rewarded for my effort with the number… NUMBAH ONE!!!

MUAHAHAHAHA! I’d like to see you try and reject me today!

Since I was the first, I figured it should be pretty fast. Yet I waited, waited and waited some more.

They called me ONE HOUR after I first arrived. One hour!

It wasn’t their first time checking my documents and I’ve already typed, documented and organised EVERYTHING for them. If they take one hour to process my paperwork, one can only imagine how long other people’s would take!

With this level of efficiency, is there any wonder at all why they never seem to be able to process applications?

But at long last, I finally got the OK on my paperwork! YESSSSSSSS.

Went to pay 2,200 yen. I have no idea what I’m paying for. Probably trainer fees for all the exercise they gave me by making me cycle to this place four times? Did an eye test, then sat for a computerized theory test. Scored 10/10. Yey.

Questions were things like:

If there is an ambulance behind you with the siren on, it’s ok not to give way if you’re in a hurry. True or false?


But after all the hassle and torture, I finally have a test date!!!

January 23. Earliest date available.

Now, to decide whether or not to cough out the money and time for a practice run around the test course (which is at the far end of Tokyo about 1.5hrs away) …

Read about the actual test day (and how I passed on the first try!)

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