Only in Japan? At the post office.

An only-in-Japan moment?
I went to the post office earlier, and they forgot to give me 200 yen change.
Just before I got a call from them. They apparently found my phone number in some record from a previous transaction, apologized for not giving me change, and said they wanted to come over to my house and give it to me.
I told them thanks very much, but I’ll just come by later and pick it up.
I can’t imagine the post office in St. Louis or Boston doing that.

At the tax office today

Today was the first day for submitting personal taxes in Tokyo, so I decided to get them done early. For this return, I always go over to the Katsushika tax office and somebody stands by me and helps me get the right data into the computer. I always choose the “I don’t know how to use computers” option because even though I do know how to use computers I don’t understand taxes at all – even in the U.S. So I bring medical receipts, salary statements, and other stuff – plus my returns from the past few years so the person helping me can see what last year’s person did, and just ask them to help me. It usually goes more smoothly that way.

I was surprised it was so crowded. I guess a bunch of other people also wanted to get it done with quickly.

After standing in line for a while, and getting to the front of the “preliminary preparation” stage, instead of having to go to the computer area, wait in another line, and stand with somebody and do it, they dragged me out of line, said there were too many part-timers there today who are unfamiliar with dealing with foreigners (my income is from the U.S.), and brought me over to what I can best describe as a sort of “tax concierge corner” I had never seen before.

There I got to sit at a table in a comfortable chair while somebody took my papers and entered everything into the computer by himself, and I was done in 10 minutes. He even personally escorted me to the next room and showed me where to drop the final papers off.

After I was done I asked where I could call a taxi, because there was no obvious place around there where taxis go by, and I just felt like getting home quickly.

He sent me to the third floor, where they had me sit down again while they called a taxi for me. Then they escorted me back down to the first floor, showed me a comfortable seat where I could wait for the taxi, and told me where to look. And they even offered to stay with me until the taxi came.

Your tax yen at work.

34 Years

I arrived in Japan 34 years ago today, Halloween day, 1983.

I was digging around trying to find photos from exactly then, but I couldn’t find any photos from the arrival week. They might be here somewhere.

But these were taken in my first apartment, in “Exotic Kamata.”