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Kirikae in Kanuma is a pain! 2010/9/1 15:36
I live in Tochigi and my international license has expired. I need a Japanese license asap for my job.
However, I went to Kanuma, the strictest 運転免許センター in Kanto. I talked to some of the other foreigners, some had been there already 5 to 10 times, some lost count, each time paying the center 2400 yen, redoing the written and eye test each morning at 10 and not leaving until 3. Most of them always got zeros on their driving course test. I got a zero on my first time. My boss, he's Japanese, told me that no matter how well I do on the next test, I'm guaranteed to not pass it because of my previous zero.

I don't know what I did wrong to make an instant fail except the teacher told me I went too slow and I should be closer to the right line when I make a right turn. I did everything else right. Are any of those a good reason for an instant zero?

If I get another zero, then I want to go to Gunma instead. The others told me Gunma isn't as strict. Do you think the Kanuma center will give back my JAF translation papers? They were really expensive, and I would rather not pay again.

Also if anyone had done this before at any other centers, did you have such a hard time passing it like the others at Kanuma did?

Another reason why I don't want to go to Kanuma is because one teacher is particularily discriminate of foreigners. I saw something happen there that worried me. And I heard a story from a co-worker who got his license there which makes me think it's the same teacher... I don't want to waste money on a teacher who won't pass me because I'm not Japanese.
by KanumaDriving (guest)  

welcome to driving in japan 2010/9/1 17:06
I talked to some of the other foreigners, some had been there already 5 to 10 times, some lost count

If I get another zero, then I want to go to Gunma instead. The others told me Gunma isn't as strict.


Welcome to the biggest pain in the butt process I ever had to go through in Japan. I did my testing in Gunma and there were just as many people here that were on double digits. I remember meeting one woman who had taken the test over 20 times. Also in Gunma the waiting list for retesting is long (3-5 weeks on average), which may or may not compare favorably to Kanuma.

However, it doesn't really matter because from what I understand you can only take the test in the prefecture that you are registered in. In order to take it in Gunma you would need to have an ARC from Gunma. I know someone who did this (reregistered her residence to her boyfriend's address in Akita, to escape having to test in Gunma incidentally), however it took about 2 weeks to process, and she still failed a few times. The advantage to Akita was there was a one day waiting period between tests so she retested right away instead of a month later.

Also if anyone had done this before at any other centers, did you have such a hard time passing it like the others at Kanuma did?

It sounds like you only took the test once. Most people do not pass on the first attempt without some serious coaching, so your experience is far from unusual. I remember reading somewhere that the national average is 7 tries, while some prefectures have double digit averages.

My best advice is that if you haven't yet, you should take lessons at a driving school. In my area they are around 7000 for the first hour lesson and 4000-5000 for every lesson after that. The instructor will teach specifically for the test and you will be taught exactly what to do and where to do it on the course. Once you have had a lesson you will realize why it is a difficult test to take as there are very specific things to do at very specific points. Most importantly, you need to realize that it is not a test of your driving skill, its a test of your test taking skills.

Another reason why I don't want to go to Kanuma is because one teacher is particularily discriminate of foreigners.

I felt similarly when I was taking the test, but looking back on it I think it just seems overly harsh and arbitrary when it really is just ridiculously strict with a low margin of error for failure. And after riding along in the car as others were take the test, I am not surprised there is such a low pass rate.

I wouldn't start to worry unless you've taken driving lessons and still failed 4-5 times. In my experience (in strict Gunma at least), a competent, coached driver should be able to pass in about 4 tries.

Good luck! And as an aside to other IDP holders out there: Start the license process early so there is no interruption in your ability to drive. This is critical if driving is a requirement of your job. I would start at least 6 months in advance, but the earlier the better.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Thanks 2010/9/1 18:56
Thanks for the quick reply. I guess since the people have had such a difficult time in Kanuma, rumor had it that Gunma was easier. I heard from them too that you can take the test anywhere in a center that offers kirikae.

For the teacher though, what happened was when a Chinese woman got out of the car, she was seriously upset. She told everyone that while she was driving, the teacher was constantly asking her, 日本語分かるかい? and yes, she could. She has an accent of course, but she knows Japanese. Then when the test finished, he got out of the car and asked the people waiting, "誰か日本語を分かる人がいる?" She was so upset she lost it. The teacher said to her, ”お前俺の説明分からないわけ聞いてるよ!"
I can't help but think that this is the same guy who told my co-worker, after having a passing score on his driving test, that he wouldn't let him pass because "Americans drive too aggressively."
I guess he hasn't seen the truck drivers in my town who drive like they own a kei car...
by KanumaDriving (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2010/9/2 08:21
The kirikae was a horrible experience for me a well.

I think I almost cried when I finally passed, which I believe was on my 4th attempt.

Every time I took the test, there were familiar faces.

It's my belief that they will fail all but the most perfect drivers no matter what in order to make money off us.
Japanese people pay thousands of dollars take classes and take a 100 question written examn to pass the test while people with foreign DLs get off paying less than $1-200 even if forced to retake it multiple times and a 10 question illustrated quiz.

I also would't waste money on the lessons. Just think of the test as a practice lesson if you fail.
You should be able to ask why you failed.

It's frustrating but eventually you will pass.
One day you'll think back and laugh!
by kyototrans rate this post as useful

lessons 2010/9/2 10:18
I also would't waste money on the lessons. Just think of the test as a practice lesson if you fail.

I'm gonna have to strongly disagree that the lessons are a waste of money. Its like getting the answer key to the test before you take it and in my experience they make a dramatic difference. I think on average most people pass within 2 tries after taking lessons. And especially since the OP needs to drive for his job, he should seek every advantage he can get on his next test.

You should be able to ask why you failed.

I'm not sure what its like in Kanuma, but in Gunma they won't tell you why you have failed.

Thanks for the quick reply. I guess since the people have had such a difficult time in Kanuma, rumor had it that Gunma was easier. I heard from them too that you can take the test anywhere in a center that offers kirikae.

I've heard that Gunma was one of the most difficult places to get a license due to our high car ownership. Maybe they're even stricter in Tochigi due to their high traffic accident death rate. Better call the Gunma test center to confirm if you can test there. Their number is 0272-53-9300. Don't forget to post what you find out.

For the teacher though, what happened was when a Chinese woman got out of the car, she was seriously upset. She told everyone that while she was driving, the teacher was constantly asking her, 日本語分かるかい?

I don't know the exact situation, but I wouldn't judge the instructor as racist based on what you wrote. First off, 99% of the people they test are foreigners, and from my experience there is not a small percentage that speak little or no Japanese. So I'm not surprised that the first question some instructors ask their testees is if they speak Japanese, especially after having been in the test car with people who fail to follow basic instruction in Japanese (simple things like turn left at the light).

Anyway, I'd give the test a few more goes in Kanuma it doesn't sound much different from peoples' experiences in other prefectures.

Again, good luck. The few dozen Americans I know all passed after 3-5 tests. Doesn't sound much like encouragement until you consider the passing rates of other nationalities.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

gunma office 2010/9/2 17:45
I'll call the Gunma office if I get another 0 tomorrow.
I found a website to help me know what they're looking for. Maybe it'll help me the second time if I do it again.

What do you think of this person's advice?
http://www.mybelovedsushi.com/japanese_license_oldsite/Passingchecklis...
by KanumaDriving (guest) rate this post as useful

advice 2010/9/2 18:16
Well its the same basic advice you see on all the similar sites on the web. But it seems like sound advice that wouldn't hurt to give a read through. Unfortunately, as discussed earlier, the driving test is not about your driving ability, and these sites only offer general driving advice on things that you should be doing already. Basic skills won't help you pass the test, they will only cause you to fail if you are not doing them.

I'd be more interested to find a description of the exact course that you will be taking with step by step instructions of what to do where. For example, rather than "make sure you signal early before making a turn", you need info like "at the second pylon before turn one check your right mirror, look over your shoulder, turn on your right signal". Or on the long stretch where you are supposed to speed up to 50 kmph, instead of "make sure you hit 50kmph and slow down smoothly", you need "begin accelerating at the yellow barrier after turn 3, hit 50kmph by the third cone, slow down in three successive braking actions 10 km at a time at the 4th, 5th, and 6th cones and enter turn 4 at 20kmp".

This is exactly what the instructors look for when grading you and these step by step instruction are how the driving lessons are taught. That's what I mean by lessons being the answer key to the test. Anyway, hopefully you'll pass tomorrow and this discussion and worry will have been in vain. Once again good luck, and let us know how you get on. We're all pulling for you.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

A little bit unhonest but 2010/9/3 11:26
I have another solution to the DL exam woes. I too tried several times before getting fed up with the test and examiners. The solution? Get another international drivers license.

Obviously you are only supposed to use it for one year after you enter the country. However, I have been using international drivers licenses for three years without any problems. Either most people don't know or just don't care; insurance, car registration, and the occasional run in with the police (mostly speeding related) have never caused any problems for me.
by Sameinshikoku (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2010/9/3 15:35
Sameinshikoku, you have just been lucky so far. The fact is that you are basically driving without a license for all these years. Get caught by a more knowledgeable police man and you will be in big troubles. It is very irresponsible of you to recommend such a behavior to others.
by Uji rate this post as useful

... 2010/9/3 16:46
The kirikae experience is a short period of annoyance.
Whether or not you take lessons or watch and learn and use the experience from each failure, eventually you will pass and it will be over.

No matter how discriminatory Japan can be, people failing 10-20 times are obviously not paying attention to the other drivers, the test instructor, and their own driving.

There is no reason at all to lose hope or resort to illegal behavior.
Frankly, the process of getting another IDL (which requires leaving the country) is no less a hassle or less expensive than passing the actual test.
If you're here for more than a year or two, you'll probably need a real DL (and car insurance!) anyway!
by kyototrans rate this post as useful

test part 2 complete 2010/9/3 17:18
I failed. Another 0. I accidentally hit the curb on the crank, but I forgot to back up and fix it. So automatic fail.

Again, the other people were very kind to explain to me how to take the test, and one woman who had gone to driving school told me that whenever the teacher says a number to turn at I should immediately look at the mirrors, signal and look, then turn.

My habit when driving normally is signalling and then looking. I was nervous since there's way too many things to think about to pass this stupid test. So I'm going to schedule going to a school before my next test, the 15th. More money gone!!!
by KanumaDriving (guest) rate this post as useful

No good 2010/9/17 10:29
I really have no idea what the intructor is looking for when I take the test. I just took it again yesterday with a 0. Everytime I take it, it seems I make different mistakes each time. This time he said I was too much in the middle of the lane, my checking for traffic was 遅い, and my blinker wasn't on for long enough and I should signal 30 m before the turn.

This really aggravates me when I just paid 一万円 the previous day for a driving lesson. The intructor seemed very happy with my driving. He said I was very good, I just need to be careful about checking for traffic and not being close to the curb when I turn left. Can only those two things really merit an instant 0 on a driving test?
Or is it really a matter of "oh well, she paid us 2400円 five times, let's give her 30 points this time. Next time maybe we'll pass her depending on where our next enkai will be."

If so I have two more visits to go before it becomes my 5th time.
by KanumaDriving (guest) rate this post as useful

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