David Chart's Japan Diary

October 18th 2005

Life continues to be quite busy. Last week I finished one writing project and got started on another. Unfortunately, I then got a bit bogged down and sidetracked by other jobs, so the new project is currently a little behind schedule. Since I spent today doing editing work and having the first lesson with a new student, I've not managed to make any progress on that front yet; in fact, I've fallen even further behind. Still, it isn't serious, and as long as I can get plenty written in the rest of this week, I'll be OK.

Our weekend plans were slightly disrupted by the weather. We had originally planned to go to the local forest park and have a walk. Constant rain meant that that plan was called off. In fact, it's barely stopped raining for three days. On Sunday, we also had an earthquake, which apparently made the UK news. We hardly noticed it; but then we were in a very new building at the time. We'd been buying lights for the living room, and were in the new Yodobashi Camera in Akihabara. It's enormous. Mind you, as the flagship store for an electrics shop, you would rather expect that. There was a massive selection of lights, and they formed just one part of one of about eight floors. Shopping for lights went in the slot originally assigned to the walk, and, to be honest, it's good that that got done. The evenings are drawing in, and it's getting colder. Today was the first time I thought about using the heater function on the combined heater/air conditioner units. I didn't actually use it, mind you; it's not that cold yet.

Yesterday I went to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau to check on the procedures for applying for a marriage visa, as a spouse of a Japanese national. It looks like the process is, basically, a bit simpler than the US version.

First, I have to fill in the standard application form for a change of status. This just tells Immigration who you are and what you want to do. I also need to take along my passport and gaijin card (obviously...), and proof of my or Yuriko's employment and income. As usual, proving my employment and income is a bit tricky. I'll gather the documents I can, but I think I'll also take proof that I own the flat. The point of this bit is to prove that you won't be a burden on the state, and having no rent to pay helps a good deal there. There was a brief panic last night caused by my filing last year's tax receipts in the wrong place, but I did eventually find them. Obviously, they were in the last place I looked. ('Obviously', because once I found them, I stopped looking.)

We also need a copy of Yuriko's family register entry (which we have, because we need that for the wedding itself), a copy of the marriage certificate (which we'll get when we get married), and Yuriko's certificate of residence (which she just applied for). That's the documentation that proves Yuriko is Japanese, I'm married to her, and she is living where she says she is.

Then we get on to the interesting bits. There's a questionnaire, where I have to give various bits of information about our relationship. This includes such things as the language in which we normally converse (Japanese), when and where we first met (about four years ago in England), whether we are having a wedding ceremony, whether Yuriko's been to the UK, and how fluent we are in each other's language. There are a few other questions, but they're all 'does this sound like a real relationship?' questions.

The next page is for an account of why we decided to get married, so we have to write 'the story of us'. I don't think I could get away with just referring them to this diary. Again, this is obviously to check that it's a real relationship, so no problem there. The last page is for entering all family members, and saying whether they know about the wedding. I suspect that 'yes, all our family members, and any other English- or Japanese-speaking netizen who cares, know' will help convince them that things are legitimate.

Finally, we need two snapshots of the two of us. Not a problem; we'll just have to decide which photographs make us look best.

What I don't, apparently, need, is Yuriko. I have to go in person, and there is no problem if she goes with me, but her presence is not a requirement. We are planning to go together, partly because I suspect that it will help things move more smoothly if she is there, and partly because it's quite a significant event; the sort of thing it would be nice to do together. Her presence also has the potential to significantly speed things up if there's a problem. They also reserve the right to ask for more documents and such in individual cases, but I suspect that our initial presentation will be enough. It's not like there's anything dubious about our relationship, or even anything dubious-looking.

So, we now have to gather the last pieces of paper, and actually take them in. Then, I imagine, I'll have to go back some time later to collect the actual visa. And then, finally, all the paperwork will be over and we'll be able to concentrate our attention on more entertaining things, like getting the wedding ceremony organised.