Officially gaijin

Following a barely noticeable earthquake last night (it felt like a large truck drove by – don’t worry.  I actually didn’t even notice it… Mike woke me up to tell me), we woke up at 9 to go with my boss to pick up our alien registration cards, aka gaijin cards, which we carry around in lieu of our passports.  I wanted to post photos of them since they’re so pretty, but security-wise I think that’s a pretty stupid idea.

The next order of business was registering for bank accounts, and BOY was that a hassle.  Japanese banks are very strict and we ended up filling out the form 3 times each because of mistakes.

You must:
– have a bank employee watch you fill out the form
– write everything exactly as they want it
– write in capital letters except for your name, which is in katakana
– write in hard, clear, single strokes
– wait for the bank employee to figure out what year you were born in relation to the emperor of that time (for example, we’re born in 1988 but our Japanese year is 63).
– stamp the forms with your unique hanko:

And, in our case, try to explain that you live in an apartment above the listed address and ask where that information goes.  Japanese addresses can be confusing because as opposed to simply asking for line 1 (usually a house no. in the US) and line 2 (an apartment number), here they have line 1, line 2, and a whole section for the building, not to mention the order you write this changes on any given form.  Yes, it was as difficult & as confusing as it sounds.

After that, we waited about a half hour for them to process our deposits & issue our record books.  We won’t receive ATM cards for another week.  All in all, it took about 90 minutes.

We headed back to the apartment for breakfast and then to SoftBank to get cell phones.  If I thought the bank took a long time I was sorely mistaken.  After locating the only English speaking staff member, Miho, and choosing the phones we wanted we sat down to settle on a plan.  Another employee brought us a cute tray of coffee.  I laughed because the coffee was piping hot and I thought I’d be out of the store long before it cooled enough for me to drink.  Turns out, two and a half hours is enough time to down a tepid coffee, some water, take a bathroom break, and a walk outside.

Miho was incredibly helpful and super nice (we actually got Christmas presents as a promotional thing).  It’s just that, like the bank, official things take a while to get done in Japan.  Complicate that by the fact that we’re foreigners and it’s safe to say we tacked on an hour to the normal purchase time.

Since it was so darn nice out we decided to bike over to Mosburger, a place we’d been told has great burgers.  Like a good number of Oyama restaurants, you order at the front counter before you take your seat.  I always panic because of this and order rather hastily.  As a result, I ended up with hamburg (a combination of meat & pork more like a meatloaf pattie than a burger), but it was delicious nonetheless.  Sorry there’s no photo.  I didn’t think to take one at the time.

We also went to Book Off where Mike bought me these adorable cell phone charms and I picked up an awesome record:

These are so much cuter because of the brand (Nyanko Burger).  I didn’t notice it when I picked them up, but Nyanko is some kind of chain with ridiculously cute advertisements.  I saw this video over the summer when I searched for cute, cats, Japan trying to find the video immediately following it.  I have yet to see a Nyanko Burger, sadly.

And, of course, the awesome record:

That’s all for now, folks!  Thanks again for reading.  It means a lot to both me and Mike that people care enough to read our blogs.

Now I’m off to try to make this for dinner:

We’ll see if it’s worth a blog entry.

PS: that cookbook (A Cook’s Journey to Japan – Sarah Marx Feldner) is awesome.  Click the photo or here for the Amazon link for purchase.  It’s also available from the NYPL for free!


About Michelle

I lived in Japan for a year & a half teaching English. Now I'm blogging about learning to cook in NYC.
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5 Responses to Officially gaijin

  1. Jesse Hagen says:

    Looks cool Michelle! I hope you two are having a great time. Those cell phone charms are utterly ridiculous, in a good way I suppose. That record though… I must say I’m immensely jealous. If you see a Prince vinyl in Japanese, snap a photo for me?

    • M. says:

      Thank you!!! It’s been really great so far.

      And nevermind a picture, sir, if it’s cheap enough, you may get the record. So far I’ve only been finding singles, though.

  2. Pingback: iPad purchased, Japanese addresses explained | garrulous gaijin

  3. Klarika says:

    I must have missed it the first time reading this post, but I totally dig how you refer your readers to go to the New York Public Library using the tag word “free.” I smirked to myself and then thought really loudly aw that’s cute.

  4. Pingback: More gifts: sweets & hanko | garrulous gaijin

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