how to get a driver's license in Japan - part 2

Success! As I mentioned in my last post, I went to the driver licensing center for my driver's test to get a Japanese license - and I passed! Thanks to all for the good lucks, well wishes and congrats! Also, for any Americans curious about WHY they must take the test, the U.S. Embassy does a good job breaking it down: see here. Apparently, the first time pass rate for Americans is slightly above 35%, unless you've gone through driving school here in Japan. So, as promised, a rundown of my day:

how to get a driver's license in Japan - part 1

It's time. Two years have flown by, and it is finally time for me to acquire a Japanese driver's license. I've survived this long by biking, walking and riding buses and trains, all usually convenient. Though I came to Japan with an International Driver's Permit (valid for a year from the time you get it - from any auto association such as AAA in the US), I did not drive at all during this time, as I never really needed to (Although at times, it would have come in handy...).

This hasn't changed, really, but there are times when my husband and I wish we had a car - such as those cold, rainy, windy days when a trip to the supermarket is required for dinner, but donning all our gear and backpacks to brave the elements just doesn't appeal.

To preface this, I am covering most of this from the angle of an American. The process for Brits, Canadians, Australians and most other nationalities is more simplified, as the driving test is not required. The license simply needs to be translated and converted (lucky!)

how to get a driver's license in Japan

I began the process a few weeks ago by first heading to JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) to get an official translation of my Washington State (US) driver's license. I brought my license to the nearest JAF office (you can also mail it in, but could take up to a week to get back) , along with the application I had filled out at home. You don't really need to know much Japanese for this process, unless you have unique circumstances. (I had changed my name on my US license last year so I had to explain the old and new licenses were still the same, etc.) The translation cost about 3000 yen, and took less than an hour to complete.

10 Reasons to Visit (or Not Visit) Shizuoka

This month’s Japan Blog Matsuri theme is “Japan Highlights,” hosted by Todd’s Wanderings. The tricky thing with this topic, is avoiding cliches that many of you probably already know about (sushi, anyone?). So while a few topics floated around in my head, I decided to go with some good ol’ Shizuoka (prefecture) highlights. Of course, Shizuoka has so many great highlights it is impossible to cover them all in one post (though, I’ve started another project for this... still in its infancy.) So let’s just go over a few of the things that make Shizuoka stand out from the rest of Japan.

From the Sempai: how to find skincare products in Japan

With all the good stuff to read in this post, I just want to briefly introduce sempai and fellow expat Yu Ming. She writes about expat life at Lioness in Japan, a blog I personally enjoy reading, and also shares some great ideas and information on her other two blogs: Beauty Box and Raw Bento (both of these also worth checking out for those into beauty and/or food!).

With her experience in Japan and knowledge of beauty products, I asked if she would be willing to share some tips with all of you. Of course she obliged, and generously provided a lot of helpful information for those of us searching out skincare. I learned a few things from this post, and hope it may be useful to you as well. And now, Yu Ming's tips on:

How to find skincare products in Japan

how to find medicine for a canker sore

I hate canker sores. It’s like having a ripped hangnail or a paper cut - the pain isn’t severe; it’s just annoying. You have to exercise various mouth muscles just to keep certain foods from touching that tiny, ulcerated spot. Perhaps I should also mention the enjoyable, bitter taste of Anbesol (Benzocaine). Relief only comes when the sore is numb, at least until we eat or drink something again.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I suddenly acquired canker sores all over the inside of my mouth - on my tongue, the roof of my mouth, the sides, the gums; they were everywhere. In true fashion of my typical doctor visit, the doctor had no idea what was wrong with me. “It’s some kind of bacterial infection,” he noted. Well, that comes as no surprise. How can I treat it?
“There’s nothing we can do for it - it just has to go away on its own.”

interesting links around the web (September)

The lovely Autumn moon overlooking Oigawa River and Horai Bridge

How to be a good housewife in Japan
In case you were wondering...

HOW TO: Make a library card in Japan

I don’t know about you, but when I lived in the U.S. I regularly borrowed stacks of books from the library. I think only the internet fares better in the battle of free information and entertainment. So I wondered what kind of books I would be able to find at libraries in Japan - any English books? Could I understand Japanese children's books? As it turned out, many libraries in Japan carry English books - though selections outside of major cities are rather slim. So whether you wish to practice your Japanese learnin’ by reading kids’ books or want to take a break from ebook spending, the local library can be a great place.

My current local library is rather small compared to libraries I’m accustomed to in the U.S., but they do offer a myriad of choices: DVDs, CDs, cassettes (yes, Japan still uses them), children’s books, adult fiction, non-fiction/resource and a small selection of English books. I was happy to find a shelf of classics, which I look forward to re-reading in my hard-to-find spare time. Not surprisingly, many of the English books were Japan guides and cookbooks, and what else, the Harry Potter series.

First, for those who don’t know, library in Japanese is 図書館 (としょかん, toshokan). You can easily enter the kanji into Google maps with the name of your city/town to determine how to get there.

From the Sempai: Rachael of Tokyo Terrace

Welcome to the second edition of "From the Sempai!" The first post, including a brief explanation of what "sempai" means, can be found here.

Today I would like to introduce Rachael, a food blogger here in Japan over at Tokyo Terrace. I discovered Rachael's blog through Twitter, and being an avid food blog reader, was blown away by what she "brings to the table." (Groan, I know. Couldn't help myself!) As a fellow expat in Japan, and a foodie herself, she has discovered how to make the most of local ingredients in her kitchen. (Oh, and her photos are GORgeous.) In the time she has lived in Japan thus far, she has certainly learned something about "surviving in Japan," and would like to share some of those thoughts with us: