I cannot describe the feeling of freedom Nick and I have felt now that we have our Japanese Drivers license. Being in a brand new country but without the means to drive and explore that new country has been, well, quite frustrating! Friday we got our certificate of completion from our orientation class, which meant we were finally eligible to get our drivers license. We rushed over during our lunch break, picked up our new cards (which don’t have a picture on them, by the way) and immediately felt a sense of relief! Nick says to me, “Britt, we can drive again!” (Ironic, I know, but without that little card, it was illegal for us to be behind the steering wheel!!!)
After class ended late on Friday afternoon, with our new licenses in hand we headed to the VRO (vehicle registration office) to get all the paperwork completed in order to buy our car! We were handed the keys from the previous owners and enthusiastically got behind our new (to us) set of wheels!
Nick and I didn’t have much time to explore on Friday because we had already made plans to go to sake tasting on base that evening. The tasting consisted of a Dutch man (yes Dutch, not Japanese…again, very ironic! In fact, he’s the first non-Japanese sake master) giving us a 3 hour presentation on how sake is made, the different types of sake, how to drink it and what to drink it with, etc. etc. It was interesting, but the Dutch sake connoisseur was a bit long winded for my liking. Nonetheless, we got to try 8 different sakes, as well as delicious sushi, kabobs and ice cream brought out to us appropriately according to which sake was being served.
It was a fun night, but I still am not too fond of sake…no offense to the Japanese!
Driving a car in Japan does in fact mean learning to drive on the opposite side of the car as well as the opposite side of the road (opposite to those who are used to driving in the US). This is something Nick and I have been eager to tackle.
Saturday, after a long day of house hunting (7 houses, to be precise…Nick has started telling people I am the house hunting Nazi!) and a long nap, Nick and I set out to explore the area and drive our car. Being the smart husband that he is, Nick decided that I should drive around base for a while so I could get myself accustomed to driving on the opposite side of the car and road. Good thing he suggested this, because without even thinking, I automatically started driving on the right (as in opposite of left, not right as in correct) side of the road! Nick had to correct me a few times, as well as to remind me to stop. The stop signs in Japan are not octagons, in fact they are upside down triangles…but fortunately they are still red!
After a weekend of having wheels, Nick and I have (sorta) gotten the hang of the backwards way of driving here in Japan. More importantly, we are enjoying the freedom that comes with having a car all over again!