All Wrapped up in Japanese Red Tape

Trying to obtain a Japanese driver’s license today (AKA wrapped up in Japanese red tape):

08.00 Leave home. Drive to Mito (illegally on an invalid
International Drivers License), listening to Foo Fighters
'Wasting Light'.

08.55 Arrive at JAF (Japan Automobile Federation).

09.00 Enter JAF. Hand over Australian license to be
translated into Japanese (AKA katakana).

09.05 4 x JAF staff members discuss how to translate license
into Japanese.

09.10 1 x JAF staff member explains what other 3 staff
members are doing and why.

09.25 Pay ¥3,000 for translation.

09.30 Depart JAF with license translation. Drive to Japan
License Centre (illegally on an invalid International Drivers

09.55 Arrive at Japan License Centre 5 minutes before reception
closes. Go to 'change foreign license to Japanese license' counter.
Fill out a form requesting Japanese drivers license.

10.05 Told to walk across foyer, pay ¥2,400 to woman in glass

10.06 Pay said woman in glass box ¥2,400. Said woman sticks 3
stamps on form.

10.07 Return to first counter and submit stamped forms. Told
to wait for name to be called. Sit in waiting area. Proceed to check
email, facebook, Words With Friends in constant rotation.

11.00 Group of 4 Indian men sit down close by. They stare.

11.01 Friend calls. Catch 1 of said Indian men listening to

11.02 Finish call to Friend. Overhear Indian men discussing
best way to start conversation with 'English speaking girl'.

11.03 Promptly go to bathroom. Relocate chairs upon return
to waiting area.

11.55 Name is called. Told that staff are going on lunch and to
return at 13.00.

11.56 Walk to nearest Cocos and buy lunch.

12.55 Return to waiting area after eating bento lunch in car while
listening to Foo Fighters 'Wasting Light'.

13.23 Called to window 6 for 'talk' by Paper Pusher. Asked to
provide evidence of having lived in Australia 3 months after
receiving license. Impossible. New license obtained 1 week before
moving to Japan.

13.27 Asked to provide International License (issued 1 month
ago). Deemed useless evidence by very serious Paper Pusher
at counter.

13.28 Requested to provide old licenses. Explain that old
licenses were exchanged for new ones. Paper Pusher thinks.
Asks for company phone number to call and discuss obvious
problem. Am asked to wait.

13.52 Paper Pusher calls name and explains that company are
contacting Queensland Transport for documentation of license
history. Ha. Told to wait until company call back.

14.04 Name called by Paper Pusher (now BFF). Told that
company have not called yet. Very perplexing. Return to
waiting area.

14.12 Name called by BFF. Proceed to be interrogated about
13 year driving history. Asked hours of study for driving
test, cars driven, hours driven, tested knowledge etc. Dig
into depths of memory. Very hard. Return to waiting area
after interrogation.

14.26 BFF closes blind to counter window. Bad sign.

14.32 Attempt to call company twice for update. Line busy.

14.56 BFF calls name. Am told that company could not
obtain information. Unsurprised. Am told license will not be
given until required evidence of license history from inception
to current day is provided. Contemplate stabbing BFF in
eye with pen.

14.57 Use all self control not to stab Paper Pusher (no
longer BFF) in eye with pen. Politely bow. Walk out of
Japan License Centre suppressing 6 hours of pent up
waiting room anger.

15.00 Drive back home (illegally on an invalid International
Drivers License as Paper Pusher would not issue Japanese
license), listening to Foo Fighters 'Wasting Light' at
high decibels, disobeying speed limits wherever possible.

To be continued...

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