Please don’t make us leave the country to change our visa status

2 04 2009

Toshy had arranged to pick us up at 9am to go to Chiba. But she slept in and we only made it to the train station at about 10.30. We bought train tickets (650 yen) to Chiba and got on for our 45-55 minute journey. It took longer than normal because of strong winds that were slowing the train down. Once we arrived at Chiba station we had to get on the Chiba city Monorail (190 yen) and go one stop to the City Community Centre that houses the immigration office.

The immigration office was very busy – western gaijin, koreans – and we were told it would be an hour to hour and a half wait. So we took a number and went to lunch. Lunch was tomato pasta at itarian pasta marine. The change of visa cost us 4000 yen each but there were no issues (and no deportation required) with gaining a 3 year visa in our passports (instructor visa for me, dependent visa for Benno) although the man did make a mistake in putting Benno’s sticker in my passport so he had to make a new sticker for Benno and VOID the wrong sticker in mine- I now have 3 stickers on one page (Landing Permission cancelled, Visa Dependent VOID and Visa Instructor).

We headed back on the train, arriving just in time for the bank’s closing time at 3pm so we couldn’t open bank accounts. But we did go to the Land Agent to talk about Internet (looks like it may take a month…) and to the City Hall in Kisarazu with Scott and Matthew (other new teachers to Gyosei) to get our alien cards (foreigners cards that must be carried at all times). We have filled out the forms but will have to collect our actual cards later in the month.

Toshy shouted us all a Starbucks coffee while us gaijin talked about how strange and wonderful Japan is. The first rule of Japan Club is ask no questions.


First Day in Kisarazu

27 03 2009

We waited at the airport for Toshy who took us in her car to Kisarazu. We went straight to the school where we met Mr Matsumoto. He said our Certificate of Eligibility for the visas arrived on Thursday. Surprisingly, visas had been granted for 3 years for the both of us. Normally they only grant one year, so they must have thought that we looked handsome to let us stay for that long… Toshy will take us to the Chiba Immigration Office to apply for our visa, alien registration card and a bank account later in the week.

Toshy introduced us to the principal, Father Tagawa, who speaks only Japanese and Italian.

Then we went to the International teachers office; I saw my desk and collected some textbooks but there weren’t many teachers about as it’s school holidays.

We signed the papers for our apartment at the land agent’s office (Century 21 – Toshy thought it was a Japanese company?!) and got the keys so we could move in straight away.

The rest of the day (with help from Toshy’s friend Maya) we did some grocery shopping, got some homewares, a futon etc.

Being sleep deprived from the plane flight, we fell asleep at 7.30pm after a hot bath, and only woke up at 10.30am.

street_to_apita1View from our dining room window out onto the cherry-blossom lined street to the supermarket, Apita.

Only 2 hurdles and we will be in Japan!

27 03 2009

Hurdle 1: Getting out of the country.

We weren’t sure initially if we’d even be allowed on the plane as we only had one way flights. The check-in staff asked where was our return flight and we showed them the letter in Japanese saying I was going for a job interview. Then she asked us for visas, and we had none. So her manager was called over, he stared at the computer screen for a while, then decided that we were ok to go.

The plane didn’t want to take off the first time. The plane had a false start take off and had to turn around and go back to the start of the runway to attempt a second take off… and then we were off!

At least we had decent airplane food, a row of seats all to ourselves (the plane had about 10 free rows and wasn’t very busy at all) and on demand entertainment (Lara watched Twilight, Happy-Go-Lucky and Madagasca 2 while Benno played Zelda).

We arrived in Singapore and realised that we had about 7 hours in transit. While all of the official 2 hour tours had finished for the day we were able to clear immigration, get a stamp in our passport, register for a transit pass, catch a free shuttle bus into the city and wander around – we saw the F1 night racing track, the tallest “London Eye” in the world called the Singapore Flyer, the Fountain of Wealth (a fountain with a water/lights display at meal times), Suntec City shopping centre and Raffles Hotel.

Hurdle 2: Getting into Japan.

In one day we went from 25 degrees and sunny in Adelaide, 30 degrees and humid in Singapore to 1 degree and windy in Tokyo.

The plane landed at 7am and we knew we only had one more hurdle before we could relax – Japanese immigration. We went up to immigration, he took our immigration cards and passports, we had a photo and fingerprints taken and we went through with no questions! After collecting our luggage we went through customs, again with no questions. We couldn’t believe that it was harder leaving Australia than entering Japan…