I spent this morning at the Metropolitan Tokyo Government Offices in Shinjuku renewing my driver's license so that I can rent a car in Europe this summer and continue living a #Travelife.
The paper pushing to actually renew the driving license was done in one hour in a clean, orderly and peaceful facility with speedy processing and minimal waiting time -- in spite of the fact that Tokyo is one of the biggest cities in the world and there are only three venues in central Tokyo for renewing a driver's license.
The joys of living in the First World where everything works efficiently.
Scroll down to read more about the renewing a driver's license in Tokyo...
30 LONG MINUTES OF MY LIFE
The downside to this efficiency is that every driving license renewal requires a sit-in lecture, classroom-style, with a teacher upfront refreshing everyone's memory on everything from car stickers to traffic signs.
This is the closest I've been to a school environment in a very long time.
A GOLD LICENSE IN JAPAN
I have a Japanese gold driving license, which is the highest category for a non-professional driver in Japan. This basically means I haven't gotten into an accident or been given a driving infraction in the five-year period of the license.
All gold license holders are entitled to a slightly lower renewal fee as well as to the shortest mandatory lecture time, which is 30 minutes. Most other drivers without a gold license need to sit through either a two-hour lecture or a one-hour lecture before they get their license renewed.
HOW TO GET A JAPANESE DRIVING LICENSE
And, by the way, getting a Japanese driving license is a very big deal in itself.
The written test isn't easy but at least you can prepare in advance; but the actual driving test is just one giant frustrating obstacle course. Very few people pass on the first try and the average pass rate is after about four attempts.
NO EXCEPTIONS FOR DRIVING LICENSE
And it doesn't matter whether the person renewing the license is the Prime Minister of Japan.
There are no exceptions to taking this lecture, if you want to renew your license. You cannot even miss one minute of the lecture.
These are some of the things not allowed during your lecture: No food, no mobile phones, no reading material, no bathroom breaks and no sleeping. If you shut your eyes for even 10 seconds, you risk failing the lecture and having to take it all over again.
So getting the shortest lecture time to renew one's driving license in Japan alone is a great incentive to get a gold license. Because even at 30 minutes, I have to say that this lecture is the longest 30 minutes in my never-ending #Travelife.