Driving

Last Saturday I left the house at 8:15 in the morning. I had decided to ride my bike to the station (weird, I haven’t ridden it in over a year), but hadn’t thought that I might have needed gloves. It was FREEZING! I left my bike in the bike park near the station, and then set off on the long journey to Tokyo. I was actually a little bit early, so got on different trains meaning I only had to change twice. Travelling from Tokyo meant that I could get a seat all the way to Shibuya (a sub-centre in Tokyo).

Although I am very familiar with Shibuya station, it turns out that it’s more confusing than I thought. The entrance where I came out (New South entrance) was totally unknown. I managed to find the subway entrance, somehow though through instinct. This is odd, as I am not very instinctive when it comes to directions/locations. Anyway, I arrived at Futakotamagawa way too early. I thought about going for a coffee, but it was really busy. It’s quite a nice town, and apparently very posh. There was a bus stop for the driving school private bus, but as I was early, and they had said it was only an 8 minute walk, I decided to walk instead. It turned out to be more like a 5 minute walk. I thought the private bus was a bit of a waste really.

I was 30 minutes early, but instead of doing the typical Japanese thing of wandering around outside until it was the exact time, I decided to go in. Not that it was cold outside, it’s Tokyo, it’s not cold in comparison to Gunma, but I hate to wait. When I went in they were expecting me. The school is HUGE and very new and modern inside, more photos at this link: http://www.koyama.co.jp/f-ftk1.htm I did all the administrative stuff, having my awful photo taken, paying a load of money, and having an eye test. She started by asking me to read the tiniest one every time. I thought this was a bit odd, as it was smaller than a pinhead. My eyesight proved to be very good though, and she was a bit surprised. After that, I had “orientation”, where they showed me their procedure, bit confusing, and told me if I am even one minute late, the lesson is automatically cancelled because of the law or something. Touch wood I’m sure I will be there way to early all the time because I hate to be late.

After that, I had an hour break, so I ate some bread from the vending machine upstairs, and then it was time for the aptitude test. I had thought it would be like a driving simulator, but it was a written test. I was so nervous. The test was explained in Japanese for all of us, but the English speaker had already gone through it with me. There were ones where I had to draw as many triangles as fast as I can, other ones where I had to cross off different shapes, and one where we had to say if the one side numbers or letters were the same or different. This last one was particularly hard for me, because it involved Chinese characters, so it was challenging to see if they were the same or not, and obviously took me longer than anybody else.

The last part of the test was the oddest. They asked questions like, ‘Do your friends think you are honest?’ and ‘If you believe you are right will you go against others?’ and then randomly questions like this scattered in: ‘Do you hate your life and want to die?’ ‘Do you sometimes hate this world?’ I wondered what they would do if somebody marked yes to the questions. I said that I sometimes hate this world, because I’m sure everyone really does. I’m guessing the answer to the first question will let them know how honestly to take the rest of your answers. I was so nervous doing the test. I have no idea why, but I was shaking.

After that, I had my first lecture. It was one on one, and the instructor gave me a wake up call by telling me that the English versions of the tests sometimes have strange English, such as “dome light” meaning interior light, and “turnpike” meaning motorway (American English apparently). She was very nice though and said her dream when she retires is go to England and live like Miss Marple, except without solving the crimes..

I then had yet another one hour break (more time in which to fret) and then another lecture (this time with three classmates) about the lines on the road. This can be confusing, because there are sometimes no pavements here, so there are side strips where people can walk, and sometimes bicycles, but it depends on the appearance of the lines, etc. It’s something that is unique to Japan. We were also given a sheet of Japanese that we have to memorise for road signs, which is quite lengthy, but of course necessary.

Straight after that lecture I had a driving lesson. All the lessons start at the same time, and it’s all very organised. We are given a paper saying the number of our car, then we have to wait outside under the sign where our numbers are and wait to be greeted. By this time it was dark. I don’t think I’ve ever driven in the dark, and thought it was a bit rough for a first lesson. It was also very busy. My instructor for that day (will probably always be a different person) was Mr. Matsuda. He was a bit quirky and his English was a bit rubbish, but he seemed nice enough. He drove around first, went through the basics, and then I “took off” It was weird because he was trying to teach my how to cross my hands around the corners, which is of course weird for us, but he tried to teach me before I did it (in the air), but I couldn’t do it by just imagining it. My hands were all over the place. I spent a while just driving around and around and a lot of time stopping because it was so busy, but that was good for a first time.

I felt so much better once I’d driven, and glad that I’d chosen to take an automatic course. It’s just like driving a bumper car, but difficult to let my left foot sit out. I left the school and took the trains back. When I got to my station, the bike park was all locked up! I checked the sign and it closed at 10p.m., at that time it was 10:30. I took a taxi home because I was just so tired from stressing out so much! That night, Hannah woke up about three times, because Grandma had been round and woke her up at 9p.m….

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