I went to hell today and tomorrow I get to go back. What on earth am I talking about you may ask? A Japanese cell phone store –– other wise know as H-E-L-L.
This morning a translator came to take me to the local ward office to get my and the kids' alien registration cards. What a funny name huh? Don't they know I came here via Northwest Airlines and not a spaceship? Then we went to the immigration office to get our multiple re-entry permits. All of that took about 2 hours. Not too bad, all things considered.
Then came the fun part. Or so I thought. I was so excited to get my Japanese cell phone. Cell phones are huge deals here. Everyone has one, they are way more advanced than US cell phones and you are supposed to bling them up and hang charms from them.
Our plan was to get basic cell phones for Emily and Chris. With trains and school buses we want to make sure we are in communication with them easily. Then I wanted to get a cell phone that would allow me to IM and email back to the states, without paying roaming or special overseas rates. There were several "data" type phones to choose from. However when I weighed the costs, what I was looking for and practicality I decided to go with the i-phone. While Matt says I was jealous of his (he has one) really my deciding factor was that since I am on a mac, and I already own an ipod, why not sync the two. And price wise it is the same as other data phones out there.
So with some help from the translator we pick out the 16GB i-phone and a black and pink phone for the kids. After you pick out a phone you are taken to a special booth to do the paperwork. I should have known when they offered us beverages that it would take a while. After an hour worth of paperwork the information from the paperwork is then sent via fax to some special approval department. This department checks and makes sure the applicant is not a criminal, doing some weird activity with the cell phone and does not have an outstanding cell bill. They anticipate another hour to receive word on approval. Matt warned me that this whole process would take a while. What he didn't tell me was that it would take hours.
After 3.5 hours of being in the cell store I needed to leave to meet Emily for her first day of gymnastics practice. I left with my phone, as it was given approval, but not the kids. I guess since I had gotten 2 of the same phones it flagged "potential criminal" or something of the sort. So now I have to go back tomorrow, without my translator, and try and pick up the other two phones.
I am already bracing for another 2 hours in hell tomorrow. Supposedly I am supposed to be given 4,000 yen tomorrow (about $38) for making me wait. And I qualified for 15,000 yen (about $140) worth of shopping mall certificates. Of course I have no clue how to to ask about this tomorrow. I will probably wind up saying something like "I wish I could eat your bathroom light fixtures" I am just keeping my fingers crossed that either someone speaks English in the store tomorrow or that I suddenly wake up fluent in Japanese. Either one would work.