After being given the day off from work, I was ‘busy’ flicking through my Facebook newsfeed when I saw that one of my friends was currently at the immigration office in Shinagawa. ‘Unlucky’, I thought to myself. ‘I can’t think of many places where I would less rather be than at that happiness vacuum, I am so glad that I don’t have to go there…’ And then the penny dropped, as if I planned on successfully leaving the country this Friday then that is exactly where I would have to go. Thanks to Japan’s frankly archaic immigration policy, every time you are leaving and planning on returning to this country you need a re-entry permit. A multiple re-entry permit does exist, but as it would only extend to the end of my visa, which runs out in April, it was not much use to me. And so it was that I found myself traipsing out to that bastion of concrete and boredom, which I have come to so despise.
On the bus over to the immigration office I randomly bumped into one of my former classmates, who was also on her way to get a re-entry permit, and so at least I had some company as I waited, and waited, and then waited some more. Actually, I am massively exaggerating, as incredibly I was in and out of the place within about forty minutes. Still, I wasn’t exactly thrilled that I had been forced travel halfway across Tokyo, so that I could pay ¥3000 (~£25) for a scrap of paper and the privilege of sitting in the world’s most oppressive waiting room.