Thursday, 22 December 2011

Lots of bits of paper

I've been chased by a seemingly endless paper train this week.

On Monday, I changed my address to the new house. This is essential to get the electricity connected and claim the grant for adding the solar panels, and to go into a contract with the electricity company to sell them the electricity. 

The system in Japan is such that your address is registered with the local city, town or village authority, so they know where you live, and everyone is kept in their place. Changing your address means a trip to the city hall. The staff there have improved a great deal in the past ten years. They used to treat the citizens as scum who are coming begging to the castle for permission to breathe. Now they call you "o-kyaku-sama", which means customer, and smile and say "o-tsukaresama-deshita", which is a way of saying thank you to someone of a higher status.
I only really needed to change my own address, but while I was about it, I changed the address of the whole family. This took a few minutes longer and had the immediate effect of changing Joe, my older son's, school. The new house is only a couple of hundred metres away, but it's in the catchment area for a different school. From the new house the new school is twice the distance of the school he as at now, several of the kids in the immediate neighbourhood go to the nearer school, and it doesn't seem like a good idea to change schools when it's not really necessary. 

To get this common sense to prevail I had to go to the School Education Department of the City Hall, which is in another building, just in front of the castle. I got there on Tuesday, and it only took about half an hour.

When I got back home on Tuesday, I found out how many other papers and which variety I needed, not just for the electricity and application for the solar grant, but also for getting the house in my name, which needs to be done before the bank will start the mortgage. I needed a four Juminhyo (certificates of residence) and three inkan shomeisho (certificates of registration of seal - and I mean a stamp with my name on rather than the aquatic mammal with a ball on its nose). To further complicate things, as I'm not Japanese, they won't give me a Juminhyo but a certificate of alien registration. "Ju" means reside, which I do, "hyo" means chart, which it is, so it must be that I'm not a "min". 

I have a card for my inkan shomeisho, and there is a machine at the City Hall which I learnt will also print out Juminhyo (or their alien equivalent). I got all these papers on Wednesday morning, and handed them to the appropriate people.

Everything is set for them to hand over the keys this evening. At home there is still an alarming number of empty boxes, still flat in piles and not yet box-shaped, and a lot of crap is still on shelves and in cupboards.