Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Comings and Goings

Today I made the trip to a town named, Maizuru, which is home to the closest immigration office in my prefecture. After having a very tasty, lunch of Indian food, and looking in a couple of shops on the way to the offices, I reached the four storey, white brick building.

I have been here before so the trip itself wasn't all that interesting. You walk to the office building, you go to the second floor, you go into the immigration office, and you attempt to convince the bored looking guys behind the counter that you need something only they can give you. It's not that the immigration guy aren't helpful, they just aren't that into their jobs. They are kind of like the turtle from Neverending Story, they will help you out, they just need a little prodding to get into gear. I don't think they get visitors horribly often.

The only weird thing about dealing with immigration offices here is that they cannot accept money directly. This is a rule that is supposed to cut down on bribes and corruption but for the person in need of something, it just adds one more step to the process. Since they can't take money, you have to find a place that is inside every immigration building I have been to, in one town you need to go into a convenience store in the building, in Maizuru, you have to go to a barber shop four doors down from the immigration office. Once you hunt down the third party, you ask them for a stamp worth the cash value that you need to give the immigration guys. Once you have obtained the stamp, you go back to the immigration guys and put the stamp on the bill. It's not a hard process, it's just one that adds an extra step to the whole affair, like a little quest you have to go on to obtain whatever it is you need to get from the immigration guys.

Today, I needed a slip of paper and a stamp on my passport that says I can leave Japan and the return to Japan once again after my trip is over. For non-Japanese citizens, if you need to go out of the country, you need this piece of paper in order to get back in without invalidating your visa. If you don't have this paper when you leave Japan, when you try to get back into the country, they take your work visa away from you and send you back to wherever you just came from to start the whole visa application process again. It is a pain and I don't feel like losing my job or my home just yet so I will fork out the $28 and get the proper authorization to leave Japan for my brother's wedding and return again once it's over.

And that was my day. It was easy, I ate good Indian food, and I got paid for all of it because I was technically supposed to be in the office today. Thanks to living in the boonies, no one really knows what I do or where I go up here so it is all good. Now I have less than two weeks until I am amongst a white population again and can understand everything that is said to me. I am getting excited.


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