I never cease to be amazed by the crazy illustrations around Japan. I think this is a sign to download some Japanese “SIMS” like game. What’s so weird about it, is it seems to be sponsored by the City of Gero.
It makes me so happy to have my best friend along for this unexpected journey.
(pardon the mush, but it IS Valentine’s Day)
FINALLY made it back to Gifu to take “the test” after having the initial document review last October.
Left Gero around 6:00 am, made it to the Gifu Police Station for the 8:30 appointment. It started with document submission, vision test (had to take off eyeglasses – what?!), and a 10 question written test (very basic, need a 70% to pass). Then came the driving portion. The course had to be memorized, and to paraphrase the Gero Driving instructor “forgetting the course doesn’t necessarily fail you, it only gives you more opportunities to fail”. That was the information the universe needed to hear because RC missed a turn. There was an audible gasp from the viewing gallery. The car stopped. He looped back around and continued on the test. Soon after that, the instructor got out of the car to check his tire at a stop sign. Another gasp from the crowd. “He walked back into the car smiling and shaking his head – I was 1″ away from the line.” There isn’t any parking portion of the test, though RC is pretty fabulous at parking “Japanese style” (reversing backwards into really small parking spaces).
After the test was over the test-takers (RC + two others) were ushered back into the waiting room. 10 minutes later Camacho-san was having his picture taken for his Japanese Driver’s License (the picture looks like a mugshot “they told me not to smile”). A few minutes later he was listening to a brief “Rules of the Road” talk and then he was official. Whoo-hoo!
Thanks to Narita-san for all of his help with the studying and preparation! As a side note, failing it would have really sucked. It’s another $100 or so for the test and a 4 hour round trip from Gero to Gifu!
FYI we do eat food. Here is a typical shopping list
Shiro and I were out in Tokyo once again for business. We kinda have a thing going that when the other person helps each other out we say, “You owe me Tonkatsu” basically meaning “hey, I did you a favor you owe me dinner”. Being Puerto Rican, it’s only natural that I would have fallen in love with Tonkatsu, a deep fried, breaded pork chop. You can find Tonkatsu pretty much every where in Japan, and it’s a very safe meal for those who aren’t too adventurous.
So dinner was on me this time, and Shiro had been telling me about this Tonki place: the best place for Tonkatsu… or so they say. He claims they have been in business for some 70 years. I wasn’t sure what to expect, after getting off Meguro Station it was a short walk, kinda squirreled away off the main street behind Meguro Hilltop Walk tower.
From the outside, it is underwhelming to say the least, however the line was practically out the door. Once we got in we stood in line and slowly started seeing progress as the line moved forwarded.
Ojiisan’s were holding the place down- all dressed in white. The head chef is running point calling out to everyone in line, figuring out what everyone wants, and how many are in their party. They only sell variations of portions – Tonkatsu is their only dish. We finally sat down after 30 minutes or so, the place was packed. The tonkatsu was excellent. It definitively kinda has a Soup Nazi thing going on.. but I definitely recommend it!
The quick trip to Takayama last night involved crafts, ski stores, hamburgers, and snow. (cont’d)
From all accounts on the world wide web, passing the driver’s test the first time doesn’t seem to happen all that often. “Driving Schools” are a HUGE business in Japan -around $3,000/person. (Of course, you wouldn’t know that there were such high standards for getting a driver’s license because the general population of this island doesn’t drive any better than the US). We didn’t go to the driving school, but we did spend an hour at the Gero Driving School driving around on a course “similar to the one in Gifu”.
Takeaways from the Gero Driving School:
Q: “What happens if you miss/forget a turn during the exam?”
A: “Nothing. Loop back around and try again. It only gives you more opportunities to fail”
If you are interested, check out the Japanese road signs. Word on the street is that the not-as-populated prefectures are more lenient, so I guess that’s another plus for living in GP.
Back in Gero after a day of traveling. cont’d
Here are some random cat pictures. Meow!