Actually, this article is mainly about cars (for now), but I will be adding more stuff to this, as and when people prod me about it. So get prodding! (But, y’know, not like that >_>;;; .)
In order to be allowed back intoJapanafter any Winter holiday, you’ll need a re-entry permit. These come in two types – single and multiple re-entry. Apparently, from next August short stayers won’t need the permit, but if you plan on going abroad for both Winter and Golden Week, I suggest the multiple re-entry permit. Seek advice from lots of people about that though.
(The following is mainly taken from the perennially useful Unofficial FuJET website. It’s amazing!)
So, where to get it … if you live near Koriyama. (Sorry! I only know my local area for this!) You’ll need to go to the Immigration office near to, but not in City Hall.
Koriyama Immigration Bureau
Address: 963, Ni cho-me 32-2, Asahi-cho, Koriyama-shi.
Tel: (0249) 36-3231
Hours: Monday to Friday 9am-12pm, 1pm-4pm.
Single – 3000円
Multiple – 6000円
You will need your gaijin card and your passport. You’ll be asked to fill in a form at the office (you can also download it and fill it in, available from the Unofficial FuJET site). To pay for the thing, they’ll direct you to a funny little shop across the road, where you buy a revenue stamp.
Slightly more complicated directions!
I’m going to assume you can get toKoriyamastation. Drive (or walk for a good half hour) up the road leading away from the station. This is the 142, which turns into Sakura-dori. Keeeeeeep going. You’ll pass various things, like the Mall shopping centre and about a hundred traffic lights. You’ll eventually see a massive brown building looming up on the right of the road. That’s City Hall, turn right here, drive straight past the hugemungous brown building. Now, coming up somewhere on the right is a tiny shack – this is the Immigration office. It’s got a white sign with IMMIGRATION written vertically down it.
[Maps to follow]
All right, so, you might have noticed every teacher in the staff room / your headteacher / principal / BoE comrades, asking you whether you’ve got Winter tires on your car yet. If not, well, they should have been!
If it hasn’t started in your area already then it’s going to get snowing pretty soon. Winter tires are a must have inFukushima, wherever you are. I expect the Aizu people already know all this, but hey, better late than never!
Find the Winter tires / studless tires in your apartment and pop ‘em in the boot / trunk – off you go to the local garage. I went to my local Eneos petrol / gas station and it was dead easy. Here’s the key phrase for you:
Fuyu no taiya ni koukan shitai no desu ga …
I’d like to change to Winter tires please, but …
Actually, when I went I barely managed to get past the “Fuyu no taiya” part before the guy was enthusiastically asking whether I had the tires with me or whether I needed to buy some. As it turns out, I needed to do both, since my set of Winter tires were that worn down >_<;;;
Odd looking car; why’s he got his wipers up? Snow and frost be the answer here. Basically, it can get so cold sometimes that the wipers freeze to the screen (after rain, y’know). Either that or you get a bucket ton of snow come down in one night, which has been known to be heavy enough to bend / break / make useless your windscreen wipers. Note to self: If you see other cars with the wipers up – copy them!
This stuff is windscreen de-icer; it’s fantastic. Personally, I found that scraping off the ice with just a little scraper got old pretty quickly. Spray some of this stuff on the windscreen and let it melt the ice a bit for you; then it really doesn’t take long to get rid of at all.
Big Fat Broom™, does what it says on the handle. If your car gets a mountain of snow on top of it, then do the decent thing and brush it off before you drive off. The car behind you will thank you kindly.
Windscreen washer – Should have some sort of anti-freeze mix in it. If you need to top it up then check the back to see how many parts mixture / water you need.
Sorry, I’m going to be a bit useless here, since I don’t have a kerosene heater. If you have one, ask your sempai how it works ^^;; I do, however, have an electric heater! Mine has a big button with 電気 denki, or electricity written on it. Also, the こたつ kotatsu is lovely – It’s a low table with a heater underneath. Set up the table, chuck a blanket under the table top, switch on, warm up ^_^
One more thing. The absolutely best way to keep warm in the Winter is Nabe :D!!! It’s a big, electric pot that you plonk in the middle of the table, fill it up with sauce and throw vegetables at it. Fab to share with friends whilst you all snuggle under the kotatsu ^_^