Slice of Life: Moving, Driving, & Coming-Of-Age!
We’ve been back to work from our “vacation” for a week now, and we are enjoying the break from hosting any guests for the next 2 months to focus on studying, cleaning, packing, and enjoying stuff in town because in just 10 weeks from now we’ll already be settling into our new apartment in our new city. Yes, that’s right – we’re moving yet again, but this time we’ll stay in the same country!
We’ll be just outside of Nagoya by the end of March and we cannot believe how fast our first year in Japan has gone by so fast! Even though we’re pressing on through this cold winter, we know spring and moving day will sneak up on us quickly without much warning. Speaking of cold winter, I think it’s colder in Chicago, but here we received a little over a foot of snow last night! I can’t stress enough how much nicer and more peaceful snow can be when we’re not hearing people (around us/on the news) talk about how big and awful the snow is that’s coming in! You learn to just see it, accept it, and get to work clearing it along with all the other people in the neighborhood. It is possible that they are freaking out about the snow here just as much as we do back home, but we just can’t understand it… which means that in this case, ignorance is bliss!
Some upcoming plans to look forward to:
- Eating plenty more cheese nan bread at our favorite Indian restaurant (Mahal!), and eating a few more juicy burgers from our favorite local burger place – Center 4 (no hour long wait outside like the legendary Kuma’s in Chicacago!)
- A traditional Japanese music & dance show in February (we bought tickets 2 months ago just 1 day after they went on sale, and half were already gone!) in a nearby town.
- Re-visiting Hida-no Sato in winter to get some of the famous super thick snow on the roofs!
In a little under 3 weeks we’ll be heading down to Gifu again for our “practical” driving test, even though it’s not very practical… We’ve been driving on our international license since we arrived in Japan, but when it expires in April, we’ll need to get a real, Japan-issued driving license. It’s probably a good thing, since in order to get an international license, all you need to do is bring your US license along with a passport photo and $15 to a AAA office and have them hand-write your info on a piece of folded card-stock and then staple your photo inside. How legit do you think it looks? (Answer: not very!) So, back to the Japanese driving test: There It’s on a closed course. It takes about 15 minutes, even though you are going at a sloth’s pace. The major thing about this test is that we must memorize the route that we’ll be driving on the closed course. So while we’re driving around making sure to signal and check all the points every 5 seconds (because the corners are so close to each other, your turning signal is basically on the entire time one way or the other), we’ll also need to be sure we remember where and when all 15 turns are. Along with a few strange special features tossed in, like speeding up to about 35km/hour quickly at one point only, then slowing back down just as quickly for the upcoming turn! Needless to say, we’re a little nervous about it, especially since we are investing a lot of time into just getting there & back, and if we fail, we’ll be investing a lot of money (to us!) to re-take the test. That being said, generally a person taking the practical test usually passes the test after an average of 3 times taking it!!
I should point out that we are very lucky that we already have driving licenses at least, and we can skip right ahead to the test, because new drivers in Japan generally have to take a driving school course, and by the time they get their license, they will have spent about 300,000 yen (up to 400,000 in some places). This is equal to about $3360.00 USD ($4480.00 USD at the upper end). I didn’t miss a decimal point there – those are the actual amounts!!
I almost forgot that today was a national holiday! It was Coming-of-Age day! In Japan, you are an adult at the age of 20 (at 20 you can vote and drink alcohol), and this holiday is to celebrate those who turned 20 in the previous year (school year, not calendar year – so this is for anyone turning 20 up through March of this year). Girls typically get dressed up in fancy kimono dresses and have their hair done up, etc., while the men in the past would wear traditional dark kimono as well, but now usually wear Western formal wear, suits & ties. I wish I could pretend to be turning 20 and get all dressed up in the kimono – they are so beautiful!