Friday, September 18, 2009

Driving School

So, jittery, nervous, constantly feeling a little anxious as I force myself through the nicotine withdrawals, and my more serious psychological dependency on cigarettes, I decided that the thing to do was: enroll myself in Japanese Driving School.

So I rushed right out and handed over the largest sum of money I have ever literally "handed over" in my life. The next 9 months of traffic and automobile safety and rules of the road lectures--delivered all in Japanese--is the most expensive thing I have ever bought for myself. I'm trying NOT to think about what kind of private vacation (to Guam! to Hawaii!) the same amount of money could have gotten me.

I need a license though. Living in the countryside of Japan, and snow country at that, without a license has been. . . not easy. Walking and bicycling in the rain and the snow and having to turn down invitations places because "I can't drive" has been character eroding. A 42 year old grown woman who can't jump in the car to go fetch a sick and feverish child from school?

And bringing home a sick and feverish child from school in a snow storm or downpour hasn't been fun. It's a nice 30 minute walk from our house to the elementary school.

I can, of course, drive. I just don't have a license to drive. And no, I haven't got an American license or an international license because. . .

REALLY wish I had a good reason to start telling you about here.

I don't have a good reason; I have a pathetic one. I just never mailed in my renewal for my U.S. drivers license and thus, rendered myself license less. Now that my kids are in elementary school I can't afford the three months in the US I'd need to get and drive on an American license in order to be eligible for an international license and thus eligible to switch over to a Japanese license after taking a really short written test in English and of course the practical driving test.

NOPE. Not me. I now have to take the lengthily, ponderous, famous for trickily worded questions, written test all in Japanese. And of course the practical driving test.

I'm not at all worried about the practical driving test as you can see. I'm a whole lot more concerned about the 800 or so KANJI I will have to learn and memorize in order to pass the written test.

Thinking about it makes me want to smoke.


Sarah@mommyinjapan said...

I'm in the same predicament. I've been told that you don't need 90 days in a row, just alltogether so I've got about 20 more days to spend in the States and I can switch my US license over to a Japanese license.

But if there's some other surprise then I'm going to go to driving school, too. I'm really interested to hear how it goes for you.

Also, good luck!

illahee said...

kuri just got her license via driving school. her blog is she may not go into every detail, but i bet if you leave her a comment she'll get in touch with you.

good luck in getting your license!!

井上エイド said...

To bad you couldn't take the "license conversion" test. 10 written questions. Not tricky. ("You're very tired. But you need to make an appointment. Should you drive?" ← only tricky to a "work is my life" salaryman).

The actual driving test is hard. I've had a license and have been driving since I was 16. And I failed it twice before passing on my third time. And that was after I took a course prepping me for the course.

thefukases said...

I got my license through a driving school here, too. But it only took me 6 weeks. 9 months sounds horrendous!

The school should have practise computers for the tests and you can just do them again and again and again until you're so confident about obscure roadrules it's crazy! I took the test in Japanese but I got furigana above- is that an option for you?

Good Luck!!

kuri, ping & the pinglet said...

Let me know if you want any info about driving school! :) Don't pay too much attention to what different instructors tell you, just your regular one. The last few hours of driving, they'll walk you through the driving test from getting into the car until you turn off the engine and get out, so I wouldn't listen too much to any advice they give you now. :)

Definitely take as many practice tests as you can's kind of like studying for the SATs. :) Once you've done enough, you know exactly what the answer is from reading the first word of the problem. LOL

Is the practical driving test at the school? Or are they prepping you for the test at the center? The only test I had to take at the center was the 95 question written exam...

Anyway, let me know if you have any questions! It took me 3 months from start to finish. I could only go on Sat and Sun though and there were a few weekends that I had to take off. I think that the 9 months are there just in case something comes up that prevents you from getting your license sooner.

Good luck!!!

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