Residence Card Renewal During Pandemic

I am a permanent resident of Japan and don’t need to renew my visa. But every 7 years I must renew my residence card. Even though we’re in the middle of a pandemic, it’s time to renew, so this morning I went to the regional Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa to take care of it.

I think it’s weird, but they close for lunch between 12 and 1 pm, so I wanted to get there fairly early and get it done in the morning.

My station, Shinkoiwa, is a pretty good transportation hub, and they have an express train to Shinagawa. The regular cars were quite crowded. Everybody was wearing masks, but social distancing was impossible. So I used my Suica Card to spring for a Green Car seat where things were quiet and mostly empty.

Sitting in the Green Card on the way to Shinagawa – just 23 minutes away
The car was mostly empty – unlike the regular cars, which were stuffed with people that time of the day. Worth it considering what’s going on.
Shinagawa Station was pretty quiet.
The Immigration Bureau is quite far from the station. Instead of taking a bus I decided to take a taxi.
Arrival at the Immigration Bureau entrance.
Because of the pandemic, they were limiting how many people could enter at one time. Here we picked up a time/entrance paper.
I got a 10:15 am slot with the A group. This meant I needed to wait outside for a half hour before being able to go in. A member of the staff helped me find a “warm” place to stand in the sun and wait.
There was security and health screening to get in (and men and women were screened separately). But once inside, because of the crowd controls, it was surprisingly quiet. I went to the counter and filled out my form and went upstairs.
Counter D2 was for permanent residents renewing their residence card. I only needed to wait a few minutes to get served. They asked me to lower my mask to make sure I matched my photo.
Social distancing in the waiting area.
Waiting for my number to get called. It was only 45 minutes from the time I entered the building until I got my new card. Not bad!
I think I look younger and better in my new photo than I did 7 years ago. Can you tell which is is the newer one? OK, I’ll tell you. It’s the one on the left. The one on the right is me back in 2014.

And I was back home in time to take Pao for his afternoon walk!

Pao draws a map of the U.S.

Pao drew a map of the United States in honor of the presidential inauguration this week. His choice of art materials is not a commentary on the election results (he’s a big Biden fan since Biden loves wild dogs). He is just using the materials he has available.

Pao demanding room service

Pao does do his business outside on walks, but he also does it inside, because he has a puppy toilet. Tao naturally stopped using the puppy toilet, but Pao has not. I asked the vet about this, and also did some reading and apparently it’s not unusual. The vet said, frankly, it’s convenient. For example in the middle of the night, or in very bad weather he has a place to go. It’s not like I have a dog door where he can just go out to a garden. And he’s very good about using the toilet just in that one spot. Sometimes there might be a little bit of a miss, but it’s always right there in that corner.

It’s about time you showed up.
Pao’s double-large size puppy toilet, with absorbent sheets and mesh cover

What’s cute is that after he uses it, like here, he bangs on the door to the dining room like he’s calling for room service asking someone to come and change the sheet.

Maybe I should get him a little room service buzzer.

Solution to puppy night barking and frenzies – white noise

Pao and I decided to have a new start for 2021. Here is his album for a whole year: Pao’s corner

As you might know, his mother was a terrier and Japan dog mix, and she was less than half Pao’s current size. He doesn’t look anything at all like his mother. His father is (they claim) unknown. He was 1.3 kg when I got him a year ago, and now is up to 24.75 kg. He is often rather hard to control. Especially when leaping at motorcycles during walks. He’s really strong!

I’ve had two dog trainers visit a total of 7 times and that’s not really getting better, but wanted to let you know about something I actually solved this week!

First, on the positive side, Pao doesn’t bite, he gets along well with all other dogs (I’ve never seen him bark at or get angry at another dog), and he’s surprisingly gentle with little kids and older people, and will eat treats out of their hands. I think he’s trying to be good. I don’t feel I’ve really completely bonded with him yet, but we do sleep together, which is cute. When he is quiet. And I’m doing my best to evoke positive thoughts when he’s around.

The upstairs bedroom is where he spends most of his “down time” during the day. He likes relaxing on the bed upstairs. There are no crates (no place for them) but he doesn’t make messes upstairs or anything like that.

The issue I wanted to solve, though, is that after I go to sleep (I take out my blanket and put it on the bed and crawl under it) he starts off ok. But then all night like every 15 minutes or half hour or, if I’m lucky, every two hours, he’ll hear something, jump up, bark loudly, and start spinning in frenzies. And he will pull on and chew my blanket then too. I pet him, and try to calm him down, and then he will settle down and chew on a rawhide gum for a bit and fall asleep again. Until the next frenzy. I haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep for going on a year now.

I think the cause is that he’s hearing something outside that I can’t quite hear. It could be passing vehicles. I also suspect he can hear his sister, Anchiru, next door, who is left by herself all night, and is whimpering.

So… my question was just… how can I get a full night’s sleep? If I put him outside the bedroom he will just whimper until I let him back in.

And I found the answer!

It was suggested by a user at Reddit – white noise. I didn’t realize this, but apparently white noise is calming for puppies in situations like this. In fact it appears to also be calming for people.

I found a nice 10 hour recording on YouTube ( and set up the old iPhone 6 Plus that was formerly the Monta-cam to play all night. It’s just uncanny how well it worked!

For the last two nights Pao didn’t bark or go into a frenzy even once. The first night he even overslept and let me sleep to an unheard of 6:30 am! Last night he didn’t even pull or chew on my blanket. It’s like a miracle.

I downloaded just the audio part of the YouTube and added it to the Music library on that iPhone and will just play it every night. It also has a soothing effect on me somehow. It’s like the sound of a gentle rain falling.

Anyway, Pao and I decided to have a fresh start for 2021. Wish us luck.

Fresh start for 2021

Update January 5, 2021: Third night in a row now of blessed peace all night, and almost an extra hour of sleep!