Sunday, 7 February 2010

License to kill

I was asked recently about how I got my Japanese driving license... gosh, where to start?

Ordinarily it should be a straight forward process. According to most sources it should have been a simple swap, my UK license for a new Japanese license. But this is Kagawa prefecture, where the police need to find something to do to occupy their time. Here's how it went:

1. K needed his UK license transferring as well, so he rang the licensing centre to book an appointment for us both. But they will only do one person per day, and they only hold these appointments one day a week. Great. K books me in for the following week.

2. The whole family accompanies K to his appointment, a 40 minute interview with a policeman. He is told to come back the following week to complete the process (photo, etc).

3. The whole family returns to the licensing centre for my interview and for K to get his license. I am interviewed by the same policeman, for well over an hour (and entirely in Japanese). Surely there should be a set list of questions that he needs to ask me? No, he wants to know everything about how I got my UK license (20 years ago). How much did I pay for my provisional license? How many driving lessons did I take? How much did each lesson cost? Where did I practice? How much did it cost to take the test? etc., etc. K is told that he will have to return to the centre in order for them to add the bike permit onto his license, as they can't do both car and motor bike on the same day.

4. The whole family returns to the licensing centre to complete and collect both of our licenses.

So much for straight forward - K had to take 3 half days off work, and I dread to think how foreigners who can't speak Japanese would get on. Grrrr.

Oooh, I've got a recipe for you! I made this Miso Mayo Teriyaki Chicken a couple of days ago and I've never seen Jack eat so quickly!

The meat was served with stir-fried spinach, sweetcorn and onion, and some daikon (mooli radish) and wakame (seaweed) soup.

Miso Mayo Teriyaki Chicken

4 chicken breasts
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons miso
4 tablespoons mayonnaise

Prick the chicken breasts all over with a fork, season with salt and pepper, and dunk in some flour before frying in a little oil until cooked through. Whilst the meat is cooking, mix together the remaining ingredients to make a sauce. When ready, pour the sauce over the meat and let it sizzle for a minute, turning to coat it all over. Slice the meat into chunks and you're ready to go!


  1. haha I had to do the whole darn thing from scratch 10 years ago.. and am now, a proud owner of the Gold license.. haha I took about two hours of driver lessons.. cause that course was TOUGH, and the police dude who was sitting next to me.. put it this way, the first time I took it I was so arrogant and thought I could wing it.. ha.. I was laughing and talking the entire time, out of nervousness..

    The second time... only myself and 8 other people got it out of 50, that is insane.. but I felt like it was such an achievement.

    BUT.. I can't believe the interview process you had to go through just to transfer ..

    As for the food.. I LOVE miso mayo.. I used to get this bento from a friend of ours, their shop, and it was DELISH..

  2. Oh my, dealing with Japanese bureaucracy has got to be up there with the most severe punishments for a crime. It's like slow, polite torture (or sometimes not so polite). Sorry you had to go through it!

    That dish looks marvellous and so moist inside too!

  3. I had the same stuffing around too. A 'simple' interview is all that was needed I was told. Ha this is Japan and mine turned out like yours. Maybe the licencing centres don't have enough work. Just glad I didn't have to do a driving test-I've heard that EVERYONE fails 8 times before they pass.

    Chicken looks awesome, I'll try that one.

  4. Wow. Only one interview a day And then come back for the license? Do they charge you for their time? @_@ I'm betting it as a go to the big main police station and not your local koban thing too right? Wow.

    Makes taking it the hard way (6 weeks, 300,000 yen) seem a little less painful somehow.... I did surprise everyone at the testing centre by getting it first time, though. ;P

  5. Forgot to ask- what do you eat when you are cooking your family these amazing meat dishes? I think you are amazing, if I wasn't going to be eating the meat I doubt I would be so creative and into finding yummy ways to cook it...

  6. Hi April,

    Only two lessons?! Or had you already learned to drive? So it takes ten years to get a gold license... I can't believe they gave me a 'new driver'card, although they did tell me that I didn't have to display the 'new driver' sticker! xxx

    Hi Lorraine,

    It's the sucking in of air through the teeth that I find excruciating! Is it difficult to get a license in Australia? xxx

    Hi Achan,

    So it's not just Kagawa then? Isn't it crazy that it varies from area to area? I was glad not to have to take the test, too! xxx

    Hi Heather,

    I did have to pay, but it was only about 4000 so not a patch on your 300,000 yen - ouch!

    What do I eat? I usually eat the same veggie dishes, sometimes suplimented by a poached egg. But to be honest, I often forget about myself, remembering just as everyone is istting down at the table! That's when I reach for a packet of vegetable curry, or else have toast with Marmite! Cooking for others is so much more fun that cooking for myself :-) xxx

  7. haha Sorry Angela... I got my permit when I was 15, been driving since. The green card was for three years, blue five I think and just got my gold a year and a half ago...

    I failed the first time... all I could do was laugh and talk out of nervousness.. SO NOT LIKE THE WESTERN world. So strict... I took two lessons from a police officer, one was more soft, then I went for the strict dude..

    Two hours, and it helped, I remember the officer who was grading us, turned to me husband and said "she studied".. like almost a "high five", I was so proud.

    When I moved from NYC to another City I had to take the written test again because they had cable cars in the streets..