Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hello again. It's late here, but I had to share a little experience from today. I think it will make you appreciate the simplicity of renewing your car tabs in the States.

Every two years, you have to renew your Japanese car registration and pay weight tax, and ours was due. So today we went to the Japanese office where you get this done. I must point out that today's errand was preceded by several other steps that Zach had already taken care of on and off the base, including an inspection and re-inspection of our vehicle and purchase of special insurance. Let's just say that he had some trying moments. :-)

Anyhoo, after we finally found the location, we parked in a lot surrounded by five different buildings labeled A through E. The cryptic map and directions we had from the base told us to start at building D, or was it C? I can't remember. All I know is that it didn't make any sense. Once we entered, we were directed to exit the building and go to a different entrance to register the car. They took our mound of paperwork, shuffled through it, asked Zach to sign his name, and told us how much we had to pay for our weight tax. They pointed us back in the direction we came from, and a nice gentleman took our yen at a different walk-up window and stamped our paperwork. Then he told us to go to building A, where another gentleman shuffled through our growing paperwork and asked us to drive our car to building B and enter lane 1.

So off we went to get our parked car and drive it to building B and lane 1. We figured that lane 1 was set aside for all the clueless foreigners, which we were. People in the other lanes (there were at least 8 or 9 lanes) were going through extensive vehicle inspections, but we think (I emphasize "think") that we didn't have to because we'd already had our car inspected on base and had a piece of paper indicating this. Building B was enormous and similar to Washington's emission testing buildings, but on a much larger scale. Once we found lane 1, we were greeted by another gentleman, who took our pile of paperwork and stamped away at it too. Then he told us to go back to building A and counter #6 (or was it counter #8 ?) with our papers.

Once we proved to the nice folks in building A at counter #6 (or #8?) that we had visited building B and lane 1, they made us pay more money and then gave us these nifty little stickers to put on our windshield. I'm quite sure I've left something out here, but you get the idea, right? Craziness! I have to say that everyone was very nice and polite, and luckily we had everything we needed as far as the paperwork went.

So, next time you grumble about having to get your car emissions tested or tabs renewed, think again. You could be in Japan, trying to muddle through in a foreign language and visiting buildings A, B, C, D, and E! And not in alphabetical order, I might add!


ES Me said...

I have to get my car inspected today. I have been trying to make time for it over the past several days and THOUGHT I was just too stinking busy. I actually think it is a combination of time AND semi procrastination. BUT...after reading your blog...I am FULLY prepared to get over myself, cheerfully find the nearest station and gladly fork over a few bucks. All I can say is OMG!

Zach getting a little worked up over something?? What?? Unheard of. Hee hee hee!!!!!! Tell him his sister says to lighten the heck up (but be prepared for some sarcastic come back aimed at me that you may have to absorb - lol).

Love ya both,

Anonymous said...

Do most of the officials speak English? I'm assuming so, if you managed to get through all of that without getting thrown in jail or getting yelled at or something. I guess everywhere has its share of weird bureaucracy.

pattie said...

Hi Ellen and Zach,
Jeanne directed me to your blog a couple of days ago, I'm enjoying it! Your car story is a riot! I don't keep a car anymore, no need to own one if you live in Manhattan. I don't miss dealing with the DMV, Japan sounds much worse!
Last night, my granddaughter, Aisling (4 years old) and I had a sleep over. We had sushi for dinner and she was telling me she wants to live in Japan. I told her about you, she was very excited to know someone living in Japan. After dinner I showed her your photos, she is also a big fan of Hello Kitty. She went wild over your table and chair leg covers, and the ice sculpture!
She also loved the photos of your house.
Before I told her about you , we were looking at photos on my fridge, where I still have your wedding invitaion, in the basket weave envelope you made. She had never asked about it before, I explained who made it and why I've kept it on diplay (because it makes me smile) When we saw them hanging in your kitchen, she was delighted!! We will make some this week, I'll let you know how they turn out.
Ellen, I do believe you have a new member in your fan club, in the person of a four year old girl!
Thanks for your wonderful blog, I feel like I'm sharing your adventure!
Aunt Pattie

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. it sounds a bit like dealing with inspectors while building a house in King County except no one is nice... ever.

Tami Aderrab