(Saturday) I left Shin Maebashi at 9a.m. and got to Futakotamagawa (where my driving school is) at noon. I had been told to get there at just before 12:30, but of course when I got to the test room at 12:20, it was full of people. A man checked my eyesight again and then one of the driving instructors came in to explain the driving test. There were only me and another foreign guy and the rest were all Japanese, so it was half Japanese and half English. There were four possible routes, mine was number three, and he went through all the routes. I felt a bit cheated, because the instructors had told me that all the turns on the test were right turns. Actually I was a bit relieved, because I sometimes bump the back wheel on the curb when I turn left. Anyway, wouldn’t you know it, my course was jampacked full of left turns . I had a mini fit when I thought that we would have to remember the route. At that point I was so nervous that I couldn’t even remember what time he had said the test started at. Turns out only the motorbike riders had to remember the course, for obvious reasons.
We all had to go and sit in a little room/shed in the middle of the course, and they took us out to the cars in twos. One person took the test, and the other person sat in the backseat. I was third, so I had to wait for what seemed like forever in that little hut. When I finally got to get in the backseat, the man taking the test was the other foreigner, a.k.a. Charles (and some very complex triple barreled surname ending in Franklin). This was a little bit annoying, because he has been driving for 28 years. He has been driving for 20 of those years in Japan. The law about international licenses here now states that you can’t drive for longer than a year on one here. There were some problems with some people who had had their license suspended in Japan, and then gone to the Philipines to take an easy test and then come back, or something. Anyway, back to the point. His driving was of course very good. It was nice to sit in the back of the car and watch the course before I had to do it, but also quite nervewracking. He then switched places with me, and got to watch my lovely driving.
I began to relax a bit when I got behind the wheel. The examiner was Mr. Kato, who I had a lesson with a while back. He’s a very nice old man, although hard to understand at times, but very patient and easy to feel at ease with. I was stressing out a bit over the narrow S curve and the L curve. I am quite good at them, but that causes a slight problem, because if I hit the curb, I must reverse. I haven’t hit it very often during my lessons, so I couldn’t remember how to reverse, which way to turn the wheel, whether to turn the wheel, etc. If I hit the curb and didn’t do anything about it, it would have been an automatic fail. I must have concentrated really hard, because I managed to get it done on both of them without hitting anything, YAY!
After the test, we all had to go and sit in another room inside the building called the Examination Waiting Room. It was all very testlike…I know it was a test, but you know what I mean. He called us into the little room one by one. When I walked in, he said, “Congratulations”, so I was of course very relieved! We had to score a minimum of 70/100 to pass, which is quite low, isn’t it! I scored 90. He got me on doing my blind spot checking while I was pulling out instead of before, and being too far away from the centre line when I made a right turn. I don’t know why I did that weird blind spot checking. I have never done it before!
After that, we had to go into the written test room again, sit in order, depending on our number, then they gave us 30 minutes to complete the written test from the police. Some of the questions were so easy, and it was much easier than the pre-written test that the school gave me to do. Some of the questions were actually the same, so I’m guessing that they repeat the questions over and over. I was allowed to get only 5 wrong out of 50. After we finished that, we could go home, and call the school the following day after 4p.m. for the results. I knew there were a lot of questions I had got right, and thought it was possible I got two or three wrong, but I was worried that I hadn’t passed it.
The following day was Sunday, start of Golden Week, so Yusuke had to go to work in the morning. Hannah and I walked to his office (took about 50 minutes) to go for lunch. I finally went to that restaurant that’s always closed!! It was sooooooooo hot, and by the time I got there I was starving. Hannah slept all the way. Yusuke ordered a curry and the chef brought it out sizzling in a hot pot. He was from Bangladesh and very happy to chat to me in English. It was nice for a while, but after about five minutes I just wanted him to go so I could eat my food while it was still hot! He has two children and was wondering about whether to send his son to a Japanese school or an international one. He was worried about bullying. I was worried about eating hot food.
When we left the building I got a phone call. I answered, which is quite unusual for me because I didn’t know whose number it was, but it turned out to be the driving school. It was only half past three! Anyway, turns out I passed! Yay! I asked if I could find out which questions I got wrong, but she said that we couldn’t, because only the police knew. I thought that was a bit rubbish, because I could drive doing something wrong because I never got corrected.
So from next Sunday, I start the second stage, out on the real roads! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!