On Tuesday Ben and me drove up to Shiojiri (Shiojiri; literally, "salty bottom", very amusing, but a joke for another time) to sort out our Japanese driving licenses. The international ones we'd bought in the UK a year ago will expire soon, so we needed to swap them for full on Japanese ones. Well, I say "swap", but it was quite a lengthy process.
We arrived at the centre at the ungodly time of 8.30 am and went to the international booth. We were asked for various forms of ID, including passports and our international licenses, about which we were asked an obscenely long list of questions about... in Japanese. Quite the experience.
At intermittent times through the day we were asked to go to various other booths in the area, including ones to buy 'stamps' (?!) from, one for a photograph, one for aptitude tests (by the time we'd worked out what we had to do we should have been registered as very, very blind) and another to collect the issued license itself. All very formal, by the book, the entire process bound securely by the red tape the Japanese are rather fond of.
Anyway, after 3 or 4 hours of mostly waiting, trying to answer questions in Japanese, we were issued our licenses and are now legally allowed to drive some form of transport around Japan. It could be donkeys, it could be quad bikes, who the hell knows...