It’s all in the small print (if you can understand it!)

Why do I need to fill in this form? Why do I need that certificate? Why do I need to write my address 3 times on the same form?


These are questions that I have asked myself a lot in recent weeks. We moved house towards the end of April. Of course, there were many forms for that. I had to change the address on our health insurance card, our alien registration cards, child benefit cards, road tax etc.

With our second son, Micaiah, being born a couple of weeks ago, that brought on another bout with forms: for Micaiah’s birth registration, alien registration, visa, health insurance, child benefit, visit from the midwife…

from top: Sapporo Transportation Office, Teine Ward Affairs Bureau, Sapporo Automobile Hall

But changing the address of the parking space for our car was the worst out of them. I counted 1 visit to the Sapporo Automobile Hall (札幌自動車会館), 3 visits to the Sapporo Transportation Office (札幌運輸支局), 3 visits to the Ward Affairs Bureau (区役所) and 5 visits to the local police office. Now, I admit that if I had known what I was doing (!), I would know that I needed the certificate from the car’s MOT and that certificate (with both old and new addresses, note!) from the Ward Affairs Bureau before going to the Transportation Bureau, thus saving me a few trips.

It was easy to get critical and frustrated with all the form filling, but according to a fellow OMFer going to the UK with his Japanese wife, the British visa/passport process is much more complicated and much less accommodating. So I have no reason to be critical here.

Another OMFer who has since retired commented that the Jews and the Japanese are both very good at keeping records and if it had been up to westerners, we probably wouldn’t have most of the Bible! A good reason to be grateful for the gift of such diligence!

I have to admit, my encounters with Japanese administration show that it is usually done very thoroughly and by the book. There may be a lot of form-filling, but you know you can rely on things to get done properly.

It has also reminded me that whilst our Almighty Creator brought galaxies into being, He also made sub-atomic particles and knows the number of hairs on our heads.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7)

Attention to detail cannot be a bad thing then!

  • Please continue to pray for us to continue to settle into life in our new home in Teine
  • Pray for us to have trust in the Lord and patience to deal well with culture stress, the not knowing or understanding the way things need to be done
  • Pray that we might learn from the conscientiousness we see here in Japan, as another aspect of the character of our Creator

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