I write this to you on the same day I completed one of the most annoying and backwards tests, I have ever taken. At 3pm this afternoon I obtained my Japanese drivers license. It was my fifth try at the test.
On the first occasion, I didn't expect to pass. I didn't care and I failed. Its more or less expected. When it came to the second try, I put a little more effort into it. I knew there was a high probability of failing it. By the third time, I became overly frustrated, yet I still failed.
The fourth time I was nearly perfect but the instructors gave me a score or 35/100. On the fifth, I felt like a washed up sports athlete. Tired and dejected. I walked the course like I was ready to sacrifice a soul to some Aztec god. I was angry. When the test commenced, I made a handful of mistakes from the beginning. It didn't help that the person infront of me set a bad precedent for what was to come. She did a terrible job at driving. This only made me more nervous because the driving instructor seemed to slowly become more annoyed.
When it was finally my turn to take the wheel, I used as much polite Japanese as possible. I said all the right phrases, I acted liked this was super serious (which I did before), and put as much effort into it as possible (run on sentence, I don't care). It took around five minutes to complete the course but what awaited next was mind numbing.
The next to hours were terrible on the heart. When I finally heard my name called for passing, I flipped out. This was far more exciting that obtaining my license when I was sixteen in the States. This was a huge challenge. It was like a test on the soul and the mind.
Though the test is done on nothing more than a glorified parking lot, I can only compare it to high diving or any other sport that takes technique and difficulty into account. When I took my test back in the USA, there were a lot of things that were difficult. First, there was live traffic. I never knew when a pedestrian or car might be a potential obstacle. Next was the parallel parking. It's highly practical and displays a huge amount of control over ones car. Lastly, though I don't know if its done in other States but backing around a corner. I don't know at all, or if ever this will be used... But backing around a corner and staying within one foot of the curb is highly essential in Washington state. When I was sixteen, I passed with an 83. I was tired beyond comprehension but the person who tested me based it upon the skills at task. This is where it differs dramatically from Japanese standards.
Japanese standards are based feel like they are based around a 'Kendo Competition'. Not only am I judged by my ability to drive but I am also judged by how much spirit I have. If you are rude to the instructors, you'll fail. If you don't look like you are serious about it, you'll fail. There has to be passion inside of you. Why it's like a Kendo competition is for this whole 'spirit' element. When two opponents in a kendo match hit each other at the same time, the one that shows like they care the most, gets the points. I might have got my license this last time, simply because I showed I had more care about getting it than everyone else.
If you decide to live here, I would suggest not to get a car. That is unless you seriously have to.
That's all for now.