Monday, September 7, 2009

Alien Registration

Hello everyone! I'm afraid I bring boring stuff today, nothing really flashy or exciting. Today was the day to meet with my study abroad coordinator, and we went to the kuyakusho (City Ward Office) here in Setagaya to register me as a temp. citizen. Again, I insist that you bring passport size photos with you, but I found out today that in fact, if you do forget them, there is a machine directly outside the building to oblige you. We went there by bus, but came back by foot, since I wanted to know the way for later, though to both of our surprises, what seemed like a seven minute busride turned out to be a forty-five minute walk, in the heat and sun. Even so, I got to see a lot more shops and things along the way. Btw, advice to the wise, while you're here, buy a water bottle from one of the millions of vending machines and keep it with you at all times. They drink surprisingly little here, so you could get dehydrated in the heat. The tap water is safe, though for some reason unbeknowst to me, most Japanese people drink bottled mineral water. I guess it's just what the cool kids are doing.

For the alien resgistration card, you find the building and the desk, where they give you a form to fill out asking your name, home address, occupation, birthdate, dates allowed in Japan (a sticker in your passport), and the address where you're staying, then have you sign some stuff, etc. The form is in English, so no worries there, though the lady behind the counter may try to ask you stuff in Japanese. I had my lady there to help, but I'm sure with enough hand gestures and miming, you can come to an understanding. They take your passport and make a copy, take your pictures, and also a certificate of eligibility form that you get at the airport (the man you turn the immigration form into puts it in your passport). After that, it takes three weeks for you to get your official card, which you have to go back to the office to get (thus the walk). They can issue you a temporary reg. card, which will work when you want to buy a cell phone, however, it does not work for opening bank accounts, so you'll have to wait the three weeks for that. Also, if you change where you live (as I'm moving into an apartment elsewhere in six months), you have to reregister at the city ward in your new living area. To my surprise, when I turned everything in, they gave me a booklet about libraries, rec areas and general knowledge stuff for the area, in English, as well as a map charting emergency evacuation routes (and a very interesting 1-10 earthquake scale), as well as a chart for how the trash is to be put out and when. Japan is quite strict about how the trash is done, but this pamphlet put all my questions to rest. The trash question will take an entire blog, which I'll do later.

Other than that, nothing much new to report. I went out to lunch with my brother's girlfriend (he was at work), to a Thai place. Naturally, their Thai food is different than ours (only one curry on the menu, and they don't have yellow curry). And after that, she came to a special, short ceremony to cleanse her soul, since her grandad just died, and it's been a week. It was at the shrine next door and she let me watch, which was cool. Cousin Nobu did the proceedings, all dressed up in that old-timey garb, waving a papery stick at her and saying a bunch of stuff in the same voice that Catholic priests use at mass. Then we got to go inside the shrine and she said a few things and it was over. Well anyways, so that was my day. I may be going to Tokyo Tower tomorrow, but I'm not sure, and then on Wed. I'm going to the school finally. Well, that's all the news to report for now. Talk to you soon!

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