Thursday, August 03, 2006

Why I like trains..............reason 134.....

In this new job, I have to drive to various locations in and around the Kanto plain. So I sold my old car and bought a reasonably nice one. Plus, because I do go out in the car, vice just taking the train, I and the S.O. decided we should have a second car. Today was the day we went through that unique right of passage, for those who buy cars in Japan: going to the LTO (Land Tax Office).

Now there are companies that I could pay to handle all that paperwork for me, but I said, "Nah, I can Habla Nihongo, I can do this. Besides, I've done it before" - mistake number one.

The S.O. and I decided to get both cars done at once. So that meant she had to drive, which I felt would serve her right, because she has been on a "How Japan is so superior to the United States" kick lately. I knew going to the LTO would be painful, she had never been. This would be a good opportunity to put her in her place.

If you have ever cursed about going to the DMV, you never will do so again after going to the LTO. American DMV bureaus are like greased lightning compared to getting plates transferred and weight tax paid. Plus the little bastards have added a recycling tax since I last went through this, adding an extra 10,000 yen per car.

They take lunch from 11:30 - 1pm so we left at 12:15, because one other common feature about the LTO is that it is always located in the most inconvenient location possible and the Yokohama LTO is no exception. We both arrived about 1:15. 3+ hours later, we finally drove home. I had figured it would go smoother because the S.O. is with me, and she is a native Japanese speaker. Mistake number 2.

Turns out, the forms drove the S.O. nuts. Now mind you, they have a LOT of them, but they have examples on the walls and if you can read some Japanese you can figure out the rest. At least I could. I cannot write fast in Kanji, but I knew what to put where. Trying to explain it to her though, proved a minor challenge. I was surprised to say the least.

The other thing is that no one has ever done a time / LEAN analysis on the process. You start in one building. Go across the parking lot to another, and then finally have your car inspected at yet another place. Mind you, this is after you have paid BIG YEN to have it inspected at a dealer or service station. And if you have to change plates, as we did, someone has to come out and put the "seal" on the left screw of the rear license plate. I guess this is supposed to stop car theft, but for the life of me I do not understand how.

So 9 stops and 3 hours later we were done. Fortunately I was driving the "new" car, which has a CD player. I had loaded it up with Jethro Tull CD's and was a reasonably happy man going home.

After I told the S.O. that US car registration was a hell of lot better than in Japan that is.


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