Sunday, June 29, 2014

Getting a Japanese driver's license - Part III, passing the driving tests

Doing the right things or doing things right...
One of the first things that you need to mentally prepare yourself for when starting to drive at the school is that you will need to adapt to the Japanese way of training. For the theoretical lessons this does not matter much as the lessons are mostly one-way affairs with little interaction, and you can study as much or little as you like. As long as you pass the test you are fine. 

What I mean specifically with "the Japanese way of training" is that the Japanese generally put a much larger emphasis on getting the process right than the end results, especially in the beginning. When you start your lesson, every step of the process from the start of getting into the car to the actual driving will be decided and explained to you and if you do anything in any order other than the correct process (f.i. put on your seat belt before you lock the door etc.) you will hear it, and if it happens during one of the tests you will get points deducted. What is important to understand here is that you need to just suck it up and learn to do things in the exact order you are instructed, and keep doing it every time. Getting into an argument with the instructor as to why a tiny detail really does not matter will only frustrate you and the teacher. Their job is to teach you not only how to drive, but also, how to pass the driving test and the requirements of that test.

Be nice...
I think that this is common sense for most people, but I would recommend to always be polite to the instructors. If you find this difficult, pretend that they are policemen or any other person in authority you would behave in front of. The reason I mention it is that you can assume that the teachers will talk to each other about you, Japanese speaking foreigners are probably pretty rare, and getting a reputation as difficult will just make things more difficult for you. Also, keep in mind that at most schools, you will perform the tests supervised by the same teachers you have been training with...

Assuming you are something like me, your patience will be tested at times as the bulk of the Japanese students at the school will be university students who are not particularly mature, so the teaching style of the instructors is not generally aimed towards more mature and independent thinking people. Most of the teachers were friendly enough, but there were a few which were quite condescending at times. But I just sucked it up as making an issue out of it would lead to more problems for me than anything else. As it turned out, one of the teachers that I personally found more annoying and condescending was the one I had my final driving test under...

Passing the Test
The test at Level I is conducted inside the driving area of the school and is obviously quite basic. I cannot say that I have any specific advise to give here, except the above. The way the point system works was not completely clear to me, but you start out with a certain number of points and every mistake you make deducts points depending on the severity of the mistake. Serious mistakes such as driving on the wrong side etc. will immediately disqualify you. 

Similarly for the final Level II driving test, I have no particular advice. I started my driving test at a point some way from the school, were shown the route I was going to take and then observed as I drove. Thankfully the teacher provided instructions on when and where to turn so I did not have to think about the route. Similarly to the first test, some form of point system is at work here as well.

I am not sure if it is standard at other schools, but for my tests, another student was present in the backseat as an observer to make sure everything was done fair. Similarly, I was present during other students' tests, I just basically sat there and enjoyed the ride as nothing dramatic happened.

That is it for this time, coming up next: Hints and tips on resources for learning! If you have any questions, post it in the comments so other people can see if I bother to answer!


kathrynoh said...

Good to see you back blogging :)

I should've got my licence when I was in Japan. Being Australian and already having a licence meant I only need to fill out a form and pay the money (I say "only" realising that can sometimes be a total nightmare in Japan). I never needed it much but did take a few trips to places like Aomori where it would've come in handy.

I can kinda understand going through a rigid process in this case - better to be too rigid than miss a step. But why is locking the car door so important? Is there some underground car jacking gang in Japan?

funny jokes said...

i envy countries that requires defensive driving skills before giving you a drivers license

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