Over the last few days, I have been preparing to the Japanese driver’s license test. This test is notorious for requiring the most asinine, superfluous BS before and during the test which usually causes most of us foreigners to fail. Usually, it takes 2-3 times of taking the test plus driving school to pass, and that’s after the instructor has decided your driving is “Japanese” enough.
When my wife took it last week, she got to hear about how different driving is in Japan. She failed. They suggested she take a driving lesson or three at a driving school, so she did. I did as well. This cost us about $100 and all we really learned is the different way you have to drive to pass the course. This has no basis in actual driving, but totally is required for driving on this course.
So today, my wife and I took our driving tests. After arriving at 9am, doing paperwork until 12:10pm, walking the driving course, which you should memorize, and waiting another 30 minutes or so, we took our test. We tried to do the things we learned in school, but nerves and anxiety got the better of us. We made mistakes. We hit reverse in the ‘crank’ turns (one’s a freebee, but still). We didn’t go under 10 kilometers per hour during our turns. I turned the car by placing my hand on the underside of the wheel. Overall, it was a terrible experience.
The instructor asked us each if we’d had driving instruction. We said yes. The man then asked us how we think we did. I said, “bad;” my wife didn’t understand the question. The instructor then told us to wait again. My wife and I went over everything we’d done wrong, how we could fix it, and when we could make the 2 hour drive back over the mountains to take the test again.
About an hour later, more paperwork arrives. The poor gentleman who had been helping us brings our yellow slips, which show how many times we have taken the test and how we did, over, gives us a paper that asks for a 2050 yen stamp, and sends us to another floor.
I look him in the eye, slightly dismayed at the question and the paper in his hands, and say, “大丈夫ですか？よかった？(is it OK? did we do it?).” “あの。。。そうです (umm, yes),” he said, slightly confused (guessing he thought it was obvious). My wife does a dance and let’s out a loud “やった！” Other folks look at us with that look of “WTF,” something we’re used to as foreigners here, but we don’t care one bit.
Today, my wife and I managed to get our Japanese driver’s license. Now, I never have to drive that damn course ever again. Ever.
Behold, the Gaijin Temple of Doom!