All in one weekend

22 Oct

I had a busy couple of days this past weekend.
First of all, my family and I went to Tokyo Disneyland together. My kids like the Disney Halloween that is done during the month of October at Tokyo Disneyland.

I also got my driver’s license renewed since it was going to expire next month.

When I was a teenager in Florida I had a U.S. (Florida) driver’s license but I didn’t live in America long enough to need to have it renewed…so I’m not sure where it is easier, America or Japan, to renew a license.
And, actually, my Florida driver license has expired years ago…I have had a Japanese driver’s license for many years but not a U.S. one!

Anyways, I have a “gold license“…so it is the easiest (and least expensive) of the Japanese driver’s licenses to renew.

“What is a gold license“, you ask?

In Japan, driver’s licenses have a stripe that is one of three colors…either green, blue or gold.
A “green license” is a “beginner driver”. These drivers must have a special decal on their car that identifies them as a beginner driver. This license is valid of three years (my oldest daughter has this one now).

A “blue license” is a regular “operator’s license”.

And a “gold license” is a “safe driver“. This license, as I mentioned, is the quickest, easiest and least expensive to renew. It only takes about one hour from the time I walk in the driver license office til I exit with my renewed license.
Also, a “gold driver” pays less for automobile insurance.

As a sidenote, in Japan, if you take a driver license exam with an automatic-transmission car, then that’s the only type you’ll be licensed to drive.
I took my exam years ago with a standard transmission (“stick shift”) car…so I can legally drive both a manual transmission or an automatic. My license also allows me to drive an eight-ton truck.

While I was in the driver’s license office I noticed a poster advertising Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Olympics.

It says “The 2020 Olympics / Paralympics in Japan!”

I wrote a post about Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Olympics (that was ultimately unsuccessful).
Click here to read it…it has the official promotion video for the bid campaign.

And finally, my wife and I went to a festival.

There were lumberjacks at this festival that put on a log-rolling show.
Very entertaining!

They also put on a “strong man demonstration“.
At one point they put heavy hay stacks, barrels and a small boat on a man’s chest…and then three other men climbed onto the boat while it was on the man’s chest!

Ultraman was there too!

22 Responses to “All in one weekend”

  1. Bryn November 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    >What about a vision test? And how can they ensure you’re the person named on the license?

    No vision test required for renewals. Maybe if you had corrected vision at the initial issuance they require it? I don’t know. I didn’t wear glasses when I got my FL license (just realized it’s actually been 13 years) but I do now.

    >A Japanese address on a U.S. license?
    You’re in the U.S. military, right? So, is it a U.S. base address … or an actual Japanese address?

    My DL has my actual Japanese addy on it. My US address for the base is a P.O. box, which isn’t allowed (so, no US post office boxes, but you can have an addy in another country?? How do they know it’s not a post office box in Japan? There’s no way the FL DMV knows how addresses are formatted in foreign countries! Very poorly planned system).

    >By the way, do you have a Japanese license too?

    They issue us special US Dept of Defense licenses, which take the place of a Japanese license and expire when our assignment here is over. To get one, you have to have a valid US license and just pass a very simple written test.

    >Does the DMV in America notify you when your license needs to be renewed, like the Japanese DMV does?.

    No expiration notifications b/c they get to charge you a late fee if you renew after the expiry! Anyway to get more money out of you (including the fine received if you’re caught driving w/ an expired license).


    • tokyo5 November 12, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

      I don’t understand why Florida would issue a driver license that doesn’t have a Florida address … especially an address that isn’t even in the U.S.!

      So the U.S. military can get a special license to drive in Japan?
      And a driving test isn’t required even though Japan drives in the left lane (as opposed to the right lane driving on U.S. roads) and the roads in Japan are much more narrow than roads in America?


      • Bryn November 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

        That pretty much sums it up! Bizarre, I know.

        Years ago on bases in Japan, they actually drove on the RIGHT side when on-base; they had special “switch-over lanes” as you entered or exited the base, to get you on to the appropriate side, but they found it was causing too many accidents as people had to constantly switch which side of the road they drove on as they traveled on and off the base, so they finally changed on-base driving to the left lane.

        On-base we also have “left turn on red” just like we have “right on red” in the US, so we can turn left at a red-light, when traffic is clear. A bad idea I think, as even after 5 years in Japan, I still have to stop myself from turning left at red lights when I’m off base! I still occasionally make the mistake, but luckily have never been caught by the police.


      • tokyo5 November 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

        Why wouldn’t they have the road rules on a U.S. base be the same as the rules of the country that the base is in?

        Seems like asking for trouble otherwise.


  2. Bryn November 12, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Can’t speak for other states in the US, but renewing your license in FL is ridiculously easy, all done online (just did mine and it now shows my Japanese address) and if you renew online, they just keep reusing your original picture, so the pic on mine is 12 years old! This time mine is valid for 6 years, longer than before, but I don’t know the rules for expiration dates, and it expires on my birthday.

    In the US, your drivers license is meant to be your photo ID (if you don’t drive, you get a state issued “non-driver” license instead) there is no national ID and the vast majority of citizens don’t have passports, so yes, it’s crazy that they don’t make you keep your license picture current.


    • tokyo5 November 12, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

      >renewing your license in FL is ridiculously easy, all done online

      What about a vision test? And how can they ensure you’re the person named on the license?

      >it now shows my Japanese address

      A Japanese address on a U.S. license?
      You’re in the U.S. military, right? So, is it a U.S. base address … or an actual Japanese address?

      That would be impossible on a Japanese license!
      Not only is a Japanese address required on a Japanese license, it must be in the same prefecture that you apply for the license at.

      By the way, do you have a Japanese license too?

      >they just keep reusing your original picture

      What’s the point of having a photograph on it at all then?

      In Japan, neither obtaining nor renewing driver licenses can be done thru the internet.

      I think going in person and getting a vision test and a recent photo makes more sense.

      >valid for 6 years

      Mine is good for five years.

      >it expires on my birthday

      Does the DMV in America notify you when your license needs to be renewed, like the Japanese DMV does?

      >it’s crazy that they don’t make you keep your license picture current.

      I think so too.


  3. David October 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    I renewed my Japanese license a few weeks ago. Had to sit in an auditorium watching a video for nearly two hours 😦

    Getting the license initially was pretty easy. I didn’t have to take any tests, just an eye examination.

    I now have two valid driver’s licenses. Neither from my home country…


    • tokyo5 October 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

      You must be from one of the countries that joined a license exchange system with Japan … meaning that if a Japanese person relocates to one of those countries, they can show their Japanese license and get a local license without taking a driving test… and vice-versa.

      America doesn’t have that system with any country … so I took the full test — years ago.

      So is your Japanese license for only automatic transmission cars?

      If it took you that long to get your Japanese license you must have a “blue” one…right?

      What other country’s license do you have?
      Do you need two?


      • David October 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

        It’s blue now; it was green before I renewed it. I assume I can drive manual transmission with it, but the only cars I’ve driven so far in Japan have been automatic.

        My other license is from Germany. I exchanged my UK one for that while I lived there. My Japanese license was issued based on the German one.

        Yes, I need two. I can’t drive in Europe with the Japanese license, and I can’t drive here with the German license.

        Also, the German one doesn’t have an expiry date on any of the categories except the truck ones. So, I never have to renew it.


      • tokyo5 October 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

        If your Japanese license is only valid for automatic transmission cars, it will say so on the front.

        Why don’t German driver licenses have an expiration date? How do they ensure drivers can still see well enough to drive?
        And does that mean that elderly Germans have licenses with a photo of them in their twenties?


      • David October 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

        I can’t see anything on it that says automatic only, so I guess it’s valid for manual.

        I have no idea why the German license doesn’t expire. The truck categories have an expiry date that matches the expiry date of my UK license, which is the day before my 50th birthday, but for all the others it’s blank.

        The current license style (credit card size) was introduced relatively recently (within the the last 15 years I think), but I’m not sure if it’s yet mandatory to replace the old ones (paper).

        Just double checked my license and saw the issue date was just over 10 years ago! Doesn’t seem like that long…


      • tokyo5 October 24, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

        Do driver licenses in Europe expire on the day before your birthday?

        In Japan, the expiration date is one month after.


      • David October 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

        Forgot to add on the 3rd paragraph: relatively recently issued licenses will mean elderly Germans might not have photos from their 20’s, if they got one of the new ones.


      • tokyo5 October 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

        “Might not”?
        So … legally they could have a forty or so year old photo on their license?

        Kinda defeats the whole purpose of a photo ID!

        Besides the revenue from renewal fees, another major reason that governments normally require licenses and passports to be renewed is to ensure they have a fairly recent photograph.


      • David October 25, 2012 at 10:00 am #

        > Kinda defeats the whole purpose of a photo ID!

        In Germany the driver’s license is only used as evidence that one is allowed to drive a motor vehicle.

        For identification, all citizens over the age of 16 are obliged to have either a personal ID card or passport. The personal ID card is also valid for travel within Europe, in place of a passport. It must be renewed every 5 years.

        The same is true for many other European countries. The UK is one of the exceptions; we don’t have national ID cards so the driver’s license or passport is used. There is also (or used to be, I don’t know if it’s still used) a type of ID card issued to teenagers to prove their age when buying cigarettes and/or alcohol.


      • tokyo5 October 25, 2012 at 10:08 am #

        Regardless, I still think that if the drivers licenses have photos on them, the purpose of the photo is to ensure that the person presenting the license (to traffic police, for instance) is the person that it was issued to.


  4. Mom October 23, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    Looks like halloweeen at disneyland was fun. do people that go dress up? halloween is our least favorite holiday-we have gotten to the point that we turn down the lights and pretend no one is home.

    that strong man is pretty amazing. I always wonder how people that do things like that will be in the next 10 yrs or so-I mean they could do a lot of damage to their backs that wouldn’t necessarily show up right away.

    I just got my driver’s license renewed in florida and it was very easy. I just went into DMV, took the vision test and paid and that was it. to tell you the truth, my license had expired almost 2 yrs ago and I was expecting to have to take a written test and even a driving test but they said no need for me to do that and of course I wasn’t going to argue with them.


    • tokyo5 October 23, 2012 at 7:47 am #

      >do people that go dress up?

      Some people do; but at Disneyland, you can wear a costume (only during October) but it must be of a Disney character.

      >pretend no one is home.

      Japan doesn’t do “trick ‘r treating” to neighbors. Here, kids can say “trick ‘r treat” to the staff at Disneyland or stores in shopping malls (that advertise that they’re doing this for Halloween).

      >they could do a lot of damage to their backs

      I think they take care not to injure their backs.

      >driver’s license renewed in florida…was very easy…vision test and paid

      In Japan, we do those and watch a traffic safety video and then pick up the license.

      My license is “safe driver” so it’s valid for five years.

      >my license had expired almost 2 yrs ago

      Were you driving with an expired license?
      Doesn’t the DMV remind you to renew? In Japan, we get a postcard one month or so before it expires.


  5. gigihawaii October 23, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    I visited Disney Land in Los Angeles in 1968 and Disneyworld in Orlando in 1975 and found both awesome. Wouldn’t mind seeing the one in Tokyo someday.

    I hate to renew my driver’s license in Hawaii because of the long line to wait my turn. Since I am 66, I don’t know how long I will be allowed to drive. There have been a number of accidents involving elderly drivers, which is kind of scary!


    • tokyo5 October 23, 2012 at 7:17 am #

      I grew up in Florida, reasonably close to Disney World… and I live in Tokyo, reasonably close to Tokyo Disneyland — so I’ve been to those Disney Parks, but none of the others around the world.

      And … that’s one of the nice things about living in Tokyo — a drivers license isn’t really necessary; the public transportation system here is excellent!


  6. Sam October 22, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    In America, it is relatively easy to obtain your Drivers license. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for each state provides all the documents online so that you can print them out and fill them out. This way you can streamline your visit.

    If you need to renew your drivers license then that process can be done 100% online. Check out, for example, Pennsylvania’s site for renewing Drivers’ Licenses.

    I know Virginia has a similar online process to avoid having to walk into the doors of DMV.


    • tokyo5 October 22, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

      That doesn’t seem like a good idea … how do they:
      – test your vision
      – take your photo
      – know if it’s really you
      if you don’t have to go there in person?

      I like the internet but, I think, using it for things you can do in your neighborhood such as schooling, banking, shopping, etc is unnecessary.
      Anyways, I prefer to go out and live “analog” for most things.


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