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Sunday, 9 October 2016

I started going to driving school!

Like the title says - after five years in Japan, I'm finally taking my first steps towards getting a driver's license.

Luckily for me, I have a driving school within walking distance of my house, and better yet, it has a really good track record. Apparently, its graduates get into the least amount of accidents in the prefecture. (This may be why it's rumoured to be pretty strict)

Wednesday - Entrance ceremony

Yup, there's an entrance ceremony for this. It lasted for over three hours and consisted of:

1. The actual ceremony

We got a speech from the principal where he told us not to neglect the theory portion of the test because that's the most difficult portion.

2. Explanation of the course and materials.

We got a progress booklet, our theory textbooks, a workbook, and a textbook for the actual driving section (so we can prepare for the class)

Oh, and I thought it was pretty cool that in the front of our progress booklet, we were asked to choose our lesson style:

1. Relaxed or fast-paced

2. Talking or no talking while driving.

And of course, we learnt how to reserve our lessons and all that.

Plus, we had to take a personality test, which included ink blots (among other things).

3. Our first theory lesson

Our lesson was on the basics of driving and what I learnt was... Japan really emphasises manners. The first part of the lesson was on "morals" and "responsibilities".

The drink and driving thing was pretty scary too. Apart from the heavy fines, the instructor told us some scary facts.

The first was that up until five years ago, Fukuoka had the largest amount of drink driving incidents. That explains all the no drink driving signs.

The second was about this accident ten years ago which shocked the nation and even became a Wikipedia article. Basically, a family was on their way home from the beach when a drunk driver crashed into them, sending their car into the sea. All three children died. And to make things worse, the driver tried to escape responsibility by asking his friend to bring lots of water because... I don't know, he has no morality or something.

So now things are much stricter. Just giving people alcohol or lending drunk drivers a car is illegal.

Thursday - First Practical Lesson

Stage 1 consists of about 15 driving hours (if I remember correctly) and in my first lesson, we used something called a トレーチャー, which is basically a driving simulator (though there is a driving simulation room so I'm not sure what the difference is)

Image from:
Friday - First time driving! 

Friday was my second practical lesson and my first time in a car! We only went around the school compound (we won't leave until we finish the first stage), but that was nerve-wracking enough. I'm trying to learn how to drive a manual car, so changing gears was something that I was very worried about.

But I didn't crash the car, and I managed to finish 4 of the 22 components that we need to finish by the end of stage one.

And that's my first (half) week learning how to drive! Fingers crossed that I can get my license before I graduate!

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