Path to Naturalization 01 — Studying Japanese

Today I gave my first concrete step to naturalization. I called my nearest 法務局 (law office?) to inquire about the Naturalization process. I have already read about most of it, of course, but even then this “inquiry” is the first formal step to begin the process.

The person on the other side was an older man, who asked me several questions about how long I have been in Japan, what have been my visa status so far, if I have ever been involved with any criminal activity, my job, earnings, my family in Japan, and finally my Japanese ability level. This last one was a bit of a sticking point, since I told him frankly that, although I use Japanese daily in my job, it is completely over the computer, so I was not very confident about writing Japanese by hand.

This seems to have triggered something on the person on the other side of the phone, as he made it extremely clear to me that “I needed to be able to write Japanese if I wanted to be Japanese” (‘wanted to be Japanese’ is probably going to be another whole post). He said several times that I needed to study Japanese, and asked me if I wouldn’t prefer to apply after having studied some Japanese. I told him that I would use this as an opportunity to focus my studies while gathering the necessary documents, and this seemed to appease him.

Anyway, we arranged for a meeting at the law office about a month from now, when I am supposed to bring some basic documents (my passport, my resident card, and my wife’s family register).

In the meanwhile, I started studying Japanese again. I guess I mainly need to be able to bring my handwriting level up to my speaking and reading level, but I decided to follow an N3 Kanji book, for starters. After spending about one and a half hours studying it today, I’m not so sure if this is the best idea, since the JLPT test is mostly focused on reading and comprehension, not writing, but I am going to insist on this strategy for a little bit more.

At least, studying was funny. I saw the word for “water faucet” – 蛇口, whose symbols literally mean “snake mouth”. Whaaaat? An image of a snake Merlion came to my head. Also, apparently the katakana for “Wine Glass” and “Glass Window” are different (ワイングラス x 窓ガラス), which does not make any sense. But that is Jenglish for you. But studying languages again is fun.

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