my trip to JAF and the menkyo sentaa

Posted on Mar. 2, 2009 by geoffropuff

so to drive in japan, you need an international driver’s permit or a japanese driver’s license.  i got my international driver’s permit from AAA, but it’s only good for one year, meaning that since i’ll be here for two years, i need to get a japanese driver’s license.  i had to take a day off of work to go and take the written test and also to schedule my driving test.  it sucks that i had to use a vacation day, precious vacation days, but oh well, you gotta do what you gotta do.  too bad i chose the worst day of the year to go.

there was two places i needed to go: JAF (japan auto federation) and makuhari menkyo sentaa (makuhari driver’s center).  i needed to get my license translated to english at JAF, then go to makuhari to take the written exam.  easy enough, right?  well, first off, to get to JAF it took me like 2 hours.  i had to transfer like 4x and then walk in the rain to get to this place.  then, it started snowing!  think about this, snow in tokyo.  it happens maybe once or twice a year, i had a 1/365 or 2/265 chance to go on a day it was snowing.  yay for RNG (random number generator, which basically means any crazy random happenstance [thanks dr. horrible] can be blamed on RNG).  i’ve only been in snowfall once, and the amount to snow was as mist is to rain.  thought those damn SAT analogies were gone?  think again.  BOOYAH!

snowing train trackssnowy train station

anyways, i’m getting tired of writing about this so i’ll cut it shorter.  basically, the driver’s center international line is only open for an hour a day.  in half an hour increments!  8-8:30am and 1-1:30pm.  that is a ridiculous window to try and make it.  i left my apartment at 9:40am and got to the center at 1:29pm.  if i had to make that trek again, i think i might’ve just bought a bike.  when i got to the center, i was soaked.  i had walked from the station to JAF, but exited the wrong side of the station and walked in the rain for half a mile before realizing i went the wrong way, had to walk the half mile back, then another half mile the other way from the station.  i felt like i was walking in aqua socks.  then i took a bus from the station to the center.

the test was easy enough, stupid questions like “if there’s a traffic light but a police officer is standing in front of it directing traffic, do you follow the light or the officer?”  ummm, i think you obey the light and run over the officer in the case of green.  once passing the written test, you can schedule your driving test, which i hear is ridiculously hard, but you can get a blog post about that when it comes in about a week.

funny story, when waiting in line to schedule the driving part, there was a guy at the window adjacent.  he was complaining cuz he failed the driving test for the 4th time.  he was like, “i work for an american company.  i can’t understand japanese.  i don’t need to learn japanese, i just need my license.  i can drive, i just can’t understand anybody!”  apparently you DO need to learn japanese if you can’t pass the damn test, man.  migi = right, hidari = left, masugu = straight, tomare = stop, and i think that’s it.  i don’t think the lady at the window understood his complaints, esp cuz his english had a strong accent, maybe filipino?  haha, i laugh now but after i fail the notoriously hard test, i’ll probably be bitching just the same.

well, you’ll get an update when i take my driving test on the 10th.  let’s hope i pass the first time.  although i heard that it takes about 2.5 times for foreigners.  there were guys that failed before they got in the car.  hope i can make it further than that.  mata ne.

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2 Responses to “my trip to JAF and the menkyo sentaa”

  1. at least you didn’t fail before you got in the car?


    your favorite sister

  2. did you pass? it can def be done in 1 (i did it!) but i was super scared in the crank, that zig-zaggy part since if you hit the curb you automatically fail!



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