Monday, June 16, 2008

I got my Japanese drivers license today!!! : )

The website I blogged about on May 22, 2008, and I remember cutting and pasting what that fellow American wrote and when I linked his website he said this....
"About 9 out of 10 people fail the driving test on their first try. On my first day, only one person finished the course, and she passed. The rest of us all had to try again. Some of the people had no idea about the little rules and details the tester was looking for, so they were completely stunned when they suddenly failed."
So, it is no big surprise, I felt nervous about taking my drivers test here in Japan! I knew with odds like that, 9 out of 10 failing their first try. I knew my odds were stacked against me and I might totally be retaking it again. I think I had that in the back of my mind. But, it sorta encouraged me to try harder and study my ass off. I studied all week and weekend you guys. And sure, I have been driving in the US, since I was 15 (with a drivers permit) and had been a licensed drivers since age 16, never got a traffic ticket or had ever been in an accident while I was driving. However, this test in Japan was all totally different and I knew that. So, I studied, and studied some more! My husband told me last week, as soon as I passed my written. Don't drive like you usually do. Drive and do things in the way that "the examiners are looking for", and I agreed. My husband found me a website online that told you all the secrets of what the examiners are *really* looking for. I trained myself this whole past week. I memorized the course where I could actually "see it" and visualize it in my head! Monday morning came and I was so nervous! But I knew, it was going to happen to today no matter what, pass or fail, I was going to do it today! We decided on Saturday that we wanted to take Branden with us, so again, since my drivers test was set at 1:30 pm. We pulled B out of school at 11am. And we immediately hit the highway and got ourselves to Makuhari. I arrived about a good hour before my test. And I walked the course with Noboru and the boys. I verbally told Noboru everything I was doing. It was all pretend. I said, okay now I am in the car. Adjust the seat #1!!! seat belt on. Adjust the review mirror with *2* hands!!! Check! yes I felt like a big nerd but it was what I had to do! So, I didn't care! Check mirrors, 1,2,3, blind spot? check! Turn signal on and drive! And we walked the whole thing while pretending I was driving. Other people were walking the course, meanwhile I had a pretend/imaginary steering wheel I was holding. Was I embarrassed? Nope! I'd never see these people again, so I didn't care! I was there to do my best! In the 40KM part, the website said to make sure I check in the review mirrors twice during that stretch of the course, so I said, check 1, and as I pretended driving, I said, check 2! And we walked the whole course. Meanwhile, I saw a drivers examiner actually watching me, pretend drive through the course. Again, I didn't care, I wanted to last minute practice! Now it was 1:00pm. The test started at 1:30. I went into the building and we gave them my paper work. I went to the bathroom (horrible stinky bathroom by the way) and when I came out, they told us all to go and head down to the drivers testing area. Noboru and the boys were off watching to the side, they had the best spot to watch. I went in there. And there were about 10 people exchanging their foreign license with me. Only 3 of us were ladies. And again, no other American or westerner. Again just giving you the visual. Meanwhile there were about 45 Japanese in the same room going for their Japanese license at the same time. or perhaps trying to get their license reinstated or what, but they were there too. Finally, our examiner guy came in. He said, out of you all, 2 of you will be taking this test for the first time today. It was some older Chinese lady about 45 years old, I'd say. She was a newbie like me and she was elected to go first! And then the examiner said, Gina blah blah san is also a first timer, and she will go second! Everyone else, I gather had failed this before. I was glad I wasn't going to have to go first. I spoke with a Latin guy,he was so cool and nice! He spoke a pinch of English and he said, "this is your first time?", I said yes. "He said, this is my 4th time, to take it. And he said, "do you know there are secret stops you have to make on this course?" I said, "yes" How cute, you guys he was trying to help me. I thought he was so fantastic for trying to help me or give me pointers. Very nice!!! : ) He was #3, so I knew he would be the guy to be sitting in the backseat when I took my test! And a Filipino gal behind the Latin guy. And then many many unknown guys behind her. So we were the only 3 ladies taking the test. The Filipino gal was nice too, she said she had taken this test twice before. Anyway, they were all talking and nervous and I was oddly quiet and sat alone. I was deep in thought. What was I thinking about? I was just thinking. "don't get nervous" The examiners went and got the cars. For the Japanese with the Japanese regular testing, there were about 5 of their cars driving around the course during our testing. And there were also Japanese going there and testing with big mack truck type trucks. So, many people were on the course. And finally our examiner brought the "foreigner license transferring vehicle" a Mitsubishi diamante by the way. LOL. And it had a big name on the side, "foreigner drivers transfer or whatever" But our car was different. #1 and #2, please come out and get in the vehicle. I got in the back seat since I was #2. And all the looky loos, all watched and looked on! I sat in the back seat. The first lady, the older lady from China. OMG. She didn't walk around the car at first like you are supposed to. So she made no visual check. She got in the car, didn't adjust her seat like you are supposed to do. And he already started marking her off on the paper. I saw from the backseat. She got in the car, didn't signal and took off. She didn't make any real stop. Only California type stops, like sliding through the stop. On the 40KM area. They want you to go actually 40km, maintain 40. Do not go 30. What did she do? She coasted at a snails pace of 30. He marked her off on that too. And believe me, I hate telling you what went so terribly wrong for her. But if I am going to tell this tale, I gotta do it in it's entirety. She did everything wrong. It was a disaster. When she drove around the cones, and again he/examiner guy wanted to see if you knew the proper procedure, of 1,2, 3 check! Meanwhile she just veered around the obstacle and didn't even check her blind spot or behind her or anything. She never made it to the crank. She never made it to the "S" curve. The drivers examiner never yelled or was mean at all. He just quietly marked you off. And the horrible part, the lady thought she was doing wonderful. She didn't know what they were looking for. And I sorta felt bad sitting in the back seat. What finally did her in, was she didn't stop at the main stop, she was again doing a quick California stop. And the examiner finally shouted.."Owari" meaning "it's over" you're done! You failed basically!!! She was just stunned and for the first time during her entire test, she actually really stopped. I sat in the backseat and I felt really uncomfortable. Perhaps that was a private conversation? Yet I was stuck in the back. I looked at my feet and pretended I didn't just hear him shout, "owari!" Okay, now she had to stop the test before she ever got midway. And now it was my turn???? And I hate saying this, but I am not going to be bullshit about it. I think because she did so badly, it sorta calmed my own nerves. Does that make sense? And no, I am not in any means making fun of her. She rocked! She was so nice you guys! : ( I wanted her to pass! Okay, so she drove us back and he told the older Chinese woman, "are you sure you passed your written?" (god that was a horribly mean thing to say to her) Boy did I feel uncomfortable hearing that! All the others were all standing out, apparently they all saw the same thing from their own birds eye view. The latin guy came down and he got into the back seat to ride along with me. And I stood outside, I glanced at Noboru and my boys! I took 2 deep breaths, I remember that! And I sorta said to myself, "now or never Gina", and I began walking the outside of the car, I spoke loudly, and I went to the front of the car, bent down and said, "okay check!", went to the side and bent down and looked for any imaginary child hiding under my car and I saw all was clear and I said very loudly, "okay check", they all meanwhile all stood outside and watched. The Filipino gal gave me the thumbs up sign!!! : ) And I walked to the back of the vehicle and I bent down and I shouted, "okay check!!! And I got into the car. I adjusted the seat, and I verbalized everything. Seat adjust check! "Seat belt, okay" Mirror check, 2 hand check! And I made sure he saw it all. I felt like I was in the freaking military saying...yes drill sergeant, no drill sergeant!!! Ha ha ha! But hell, I didn't care if I looked like a huge dork! I didn't wanna fail! I approached the merge, and I pivoted my head, like a wobble head doll. #1, means the rear view mirror, #2, means the side mirror,and #3, means blind spot/turn head to back, and then #4 means turn signal. I did it all smoothly and I spoke and said, 1, 2, 3, signal, and I again check, ed check 1,check 2,check 3, and turned. I drove and went around the bend. And then he said now you must drive 40km. I swear to god, I maintained, a constant 40. I knew if you go 41 or over you will get like 10 points ,marked off or whatever. So, I was a perfect 40. And remember the 2 checks, I checked my mirror and I said, "mirror check ichiban. And and as I drove some more, I said, "mirror check niban." And now I was getting near the cones blocking the lanes. I went and I started my 1, 2, 3, check. and signal. And I checked again like the website said to do. And I did good. Now, I was where the lady didn't stop and the man yelled the owari! I made a complete stop. And I even said, stop check! And don't laugh but I said...peds peds? No peds! I like spoke to myself. I was in the crank and I aced the crank! Like my husband said, don't use the gas peddle at all, just coast through and I did. And no matter how close those damn bars looked, I kept telling myself, they are there to psyche me out. Don't get psyched and I oddly wasn't psyched at all! I went through the whole course, "S" curve and all. I verbalized everything and the website said, it is indeed a good idea to verbalize it. And I passed! I was the first one of the day to pass! The lovely latin guy behind me, failed and my Filipino gal pal failed too. Boy did I want those 2 to pass because they were my pals that day, so I was totally crushed. Oh yeah so, anyway, I got back to the end and he told me, where to park the car. And he said, "Mrs. Blah blah, you passed, you did very well. Did you go to driving school? I said, "no sir, I did not. I just studied a lot." And he said, please stay until everyone else finishes their test to be able to get the paperwork because you *passed*. So, I had to stay and watch everyone else test. I got out of the car and the Latin guy, my friend, he gave me a high five right away. And I got out of the car and I yelled, "yay" and I smiled and that's when ehe gave me the high five! I ran to my husband and the boys. Noboru was so freaking proud, he was all proud of his wifey! Ha ha ha. And then we stood and waited a whole other hour to wait until everyone took their test. Out of 10 of us. 4 people passed. I was the only female. It was me and 1 man from Iran, and 2 guys from China. Everyone else sadly failed. : ( I wanted to give the Latin guy the name of the website, so he could learn the tricks, but he was so upset he failed, he just walked out of there, so I never saw him again! : ( Man he was awesome! You don't have to be a perfect driver, you just gotta know what they are looking for. Once you know that, you'll get it! In all honestly it wasn't so hard at all! By now the Japanese who took the different drivers test were all starting to be finished and the ones who passed got to stay and wait where we were. The four of us foreigners, the 1 guy from China said, where is everyone from? And the guy said, Iran desu, and I said, America desu. and they both said they were from China and are working at a host club, these 2 guys from China were so hilarious and funny! One said, he took this test 5 times. And the other one (they were friends) said, I failed this test 9 times! And today was my last day that my written test would be valid! LOL! According to the guy from China he said it is only valid for 6 month's, lol. So he took a half year to get his license. Man they were so happy and jumping! The guy from Iran said, this was his 4th try. And he was very polite, a little quiet but very nice! Then they said, how many times, did you take it? I said, this was my first try! They joked with me and said, whatttt???? One of the Chinese guys said, " you are lucky" and the guy from Iran, said "no it wasn't luck, she just drove well." And then we all laughed. But honestly and I mean this from the heart, I don't think it matters a hill of beans if you got it the first time or the 10th time. What mattered is we all passed. : ) I just happened to be one of those freaks who got it the first time, lol! : ) The length of time to get your license after you passed? It takes forever, because of all the waiting. By the time everyone finished their test. And by the time, they called us mere 4 who passed. And they did the paper work, Then we had to go and pay for the license and then go to another window and another. And then finally we went and took the picture. My picture,on my drivers license? I am all smiles! Ha ha ha! How funny! : ) Anyway, that is now the end of my drivers license tale and adventure! : ) So glad to have gotten it out of the way, glad it's over and done with and now I don't have to worry about that at all anymore! I think in 3 years, I have to go and just retake the pic, providing I don't get any tickets or whatever. Anyway that's over! Thanks for all of you for supporting me and going through this with me! : )

Sorry the front of my license has too many private details like last name and my home address and stuff. : ) But this is the back of my license and it says, something like transferred from a foreign license! : ) Yay, I did it you guys and on the first try nonetheless! Ha ha ha! : ) And in closing about the license stuff, I think all the drivers were actually good drivers, I just think they didn't know what the examiners were specifically looking for. What they were sticklers about and what they would grade off, if they didn't do it. As long as you know the tricks and what they want you will pass. And for many today who took the test they didn't know what the examiners were specifically looking for! Anyways... that's enough about that! : )
When we got out of the drivers testing place it was about 5pm!!! Yes, told ya, it took forever! We went directly to Costco, and got our few tidbits from there and quickly left. I also had to pick up something for my neighbor Rumi-san, she wanted muffins and dinner rolls. Sadly they didn't have any muffins for her, I think they sold out before I got there! : ( After that, Noboru took us to the Outback Steakhouse to celebrate me getting my Japanese drivers license! : )

Branden colored and enjoyed himself while he waited for his meal to arrive. Pink lemonade was in his cup! : )

Noah colored too and pink lemonade was also in his cup as well! : )

Noboru buttered our breads. And pink lemonade was in my glass too and free refills on the drinks! : ) Noboru had a coke! : )

As always if you show your Costco card you get a free appetizer!!!! So, we flashed our card and we chose the nachos! Yumm and for free, yahoo! : )

Branden eating his chicken fingers meal! : )

Noah, saying, "please mommy chop up my chicken" And yes, I put the camera away and chopped his chicken! Good little guy cleared his plate, so did B! : )

My Alice Springs chicken dinner! : ) We had a nice relaxing dinner, we chit chatted for a good 45 minutes to an hour during dinner. We talked and recapped the whole drivers license experience. And he told me what he thought. And he said he shoulda video taped me! I said, "no thanks" Ha ha ha! And we were cracking up at dinner time! We left and headed to our car and we didn't take the highway home because again it's a toll and we didn't wanna pay. So we took a leasurely drive home. We got home about 9:10 pm last night! So glad we didn't leave B at Genki's, gosh he woulda been freaked and been there forever! Glad we took him with us, that was the right decison, plus he got to go to Costco and enjoy a nice dinner with us.

Just bought a few healthy snack things for the boys! A monster size bag of pretzels. Granola bars, these are mostly for me, but the boys can certainly share, ha ha ha! : ) And organic animal crackers!

Is this not the biggest bag of pretzels or what? 6 pounds of them! LOL. Ah well, this will be our last trip to Costco in person for a mighty long while. perhaps in September we will go again! Otherwise it's just too darn far for us most of the time. And heck, only reason we went today was because we were right near it.

1 package of dinner rolls for me, and we just bought 2 bags of these last week, but a whole bag is gone already. So, they will be nice in the freezer. And I split them up in the freezer bags already. And the other bag is for, Rumi-san! : )

Tilex for my bathroom. It always keeps my bathroom clean. : )

And ground beef and some Johnsonville beddar cheddars! Noboru had to grab the beddar cheddars, lol! Not much stuff from Costco, I know, and that's okay, for most my main groceries I buy from Japanese stores and I am used to it. It's just those little extra comforts here and there that are nice once in a while. Oh yeah and I also grabbed a People Magazine! ha ha ha! : ) But yup that was our Monday spent in Makuhari and all the adventures we had that day! : )
*Update* Here is the information and links that helped me get my license, or helped me to study to get my license rather! : ) I hope this can be helpful to someone, anyone! I will leave thisinnformation up here and it will remain here, forever, just in case someday, someone needs help with their own driving test and does a search. Hopefully they will come across my blog and this page and hopefully it will prove useful! Anyways, hope this helps! : )
English website that helped me for the written part of the test
Japanese website that helped me with a ton of tips for the driving part of the test!