“What a wasted day” or “My third trip to the Kyoto DMV”

What a wasted day.

Babysitter arrives
9:45Depart for Kyoto DMV, for an 11:00am filing deadline
(drive 55 minutes)
10:40Arrive at Kyoto DMV
10:50File paperwork to obtain my Japanese driver's license (window #8, main building, upstairs). This was my third trip, so I knew I had all the paperwork needed:
  • Passport
  • California driver's license
  • Official translation of California driver's license (3,000 yen from Japan version of AAA)
  • Old, expired Japanese driver's license
  • My “Alien Registration Card”
  • Recent 2cm x 3cm photo

Because I previously had a Japanese driver's license, they'll let me convert my US license to a new Japanese one without taking the written and driving tests, which I think is just wonderful.

(wait 57 minutes)
11:47Application has been accepted, now need to do a few more thing to complete...
11:49Paid $60 or so of fees (window #2A, main building, downstairs).
11:52Took a simple eye test (room #3, main building, downstairs).
11:57Re-filed paperwork at original place (window #8, main building, upstairs).
(wait 7 minutes)
12:05Am told to appear at window #6 (main building, downstairs) at 2:10pm. Bring $15 and a pen. License will be ready, the paper says, by 3:45pm.
(wait 1 hour 45 minutes; have lunch with Fumie, who was there to start her paperwork as well)
1:50I start to wait at window #6. I'm first in line.
(continue waiting another 24 minutes)
2:10Window #6 remains closed; I worry that I'm in the wrong spot.
2:14Window #6 opens, lady makes a long announcement to assembled unwashed masses.
2:16Lady repeats long announcement.
2:18I get some (different) paperwork from lady, and inspect.

I find what looks like an error with my name, so go to window #4 (main building, downstairs) as per the announcement and find that it's not a mistake, but the best they could do with my long name. (Most Japanese names are three to five characters long, and “JEFFREY ERIC FRANCIS FRIEDL” is a bit longer than they're used to).

2:19Go to window 2A again and pay another $15. Also pay another $10 as a “donation” when so requested, to the local “traffic safety association”.
2:20Go to room #7 (main building, downstairs) to have picture taken for license. Amazingly, all the others who were ahead of me had already finished. (I went from first in line to last in line when I checked about the potential name mistake.) A congenial man with a very pleasant manner very quickly took my photo.
(wait 42 minutes)
3:02Someone makes an announcement and a few people start heading to a test-taking room. Congenial photo-taking man is there, so I head over to him to ask where I should be at 3:45 when my license is supposed to be ready, but before I reach him he sees me and smiles, and waves me into the room along with a dozen or so others. I worry I'm going to have to take some kind of test!
3:04Congenial man explains how to fill out one of the papers we had (basically, “write your name and the date, stamp with your personal seal in these spots”), then calls people up to pick up their license.

My number, 804, was called first:

My Japanese Driver's License

I notice that they couldn't fit my full name on the front; it's hand written in full in the notes section on the back.

Although I was licenced in Japan for many years before, since it expired, this is now again treated as my first license. Therefor, it's good for a maximum of three years before I have to renew. Specifically, it's good until one month past your third birthday after being issued. Since my birthday is in two months, it's good for two years two months from now.

3:10Head home....
(drive 50 minutes)
4:00Arrive home, wondering why it all had to be such a long, complicated ordeal. I'm so lucky, at least, that I didn't have to take the two tests (written and driving) that most people have to take when converting a foreign license. Fumie's never had a Japanese driver's license, so she'll have to take them. Ugh.

All 9 comments so far, oldest first...

Oh I am so not looking forward to doing this

— comment by Claytonain on February 1st, 2006 at 1:01am JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Might just be being paranoid, but is putting up the image as is wise? Some obscuring / fuzzification of the image may be in order.

On the other hand the whole identity == drivers licence may be moot in Japan, so…

— comment by mmk on February 1st, 2006 at 1:19pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Hah, yes, of course. I changed the license number to something pseudo-random before posting.
(It’s not totally random because I used only digits that were in the original).

I think it’s nicer if it looks as if it hasn’t been obscured, even though it has.

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on February 1st, 2006 at 3:32pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

>Also pay another $10 as a “donation”
—That Kyoto-fu Kotsu Anzen Kyokai (Kyoto prefectural traffic safety association?) fee that you don’t have to pay.
They do all most nothing, just feeding retired police persons. I have never paid the donation for nothing =(

— comment by KS on February 1st, 2006 at 11:47pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

btw Jeff, I was told I have start the paperwork for a license months ahead of time. Is this true? (I will have to take the driving test.)

— comment by claytonian on February 2nd, 2006 at 1:03pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

I was going to comment on the unobscured number — very clever.

— comment by nils on February 2nd, 2006 at 7:07pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Claton, take what I say with a grain of “each prefecture may be different” salt, but no, I don’t think it’s true. If you have a foreign license, the only paperwork preparation you need is an official translation from JAF (Japan Auto Federation), which runs 3,000 yen and takes just a few minutes for them to type up. Then, bring that with your gaijin card, foreign license, passport (showing that you were in said foreign country for a three month period sometime after the foreign license was issued), a photo (which you can probably get on or near the DMV), money, and a book of your choice to pass the time with.

Whether you must take a test and what kind of test you must take depends on the country that issued your license. If it’s Germany, for example, you don’t need to take the test. If a US state, you do. (Countries which have submitted paperwork to Japan about traffic death statistics that meet a certain criteria are exempt from the test. The US has not bothered submitting such paperwork.)

That’s the paperwork preparation. It’s also good to prepare for the driving test by doing a practice session. Being able to drive skillfully and safely does not even come close to guaranteeing that you’ll pass. Being a monkey able to jump through hoops is not enough — you must be able to jump through their hoops, in just the right way. I know someone with 6+ years of driving experience in America who has so far failed three times.

— comment by Jeffrey Friedl on February 2nd, 2006 at 9:52pm JST (15 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

A 14-digit licence number gives a hint that it’s been obscured. In contrast, the only visible obscurity in the address is one of the Kanji, which I could probably look up if I weren’t lazy. I’d worry about the address. This is probably enough for Yahoo executives to figure out where you live.

— comment by 匿名 on July 18th, 2007 at 7:03pm JST (14 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

All these years and I didn’t realize that we are close to the same age…
Unless of course you have altered that also?

How generous is this ‘previously had a Japanese Driver’s license’?

I will be returning to Japan and would prefer not to have to take the tests.
My Japanese driver’s license expired in Heisei 9.
Is there some web site with the details about converting with an expired Japanese license?

— comment by Alton Harkcom on December 6th, 2007 at 4:36am JST (14 years ago) comment permalink
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