or possibly Azabu-juban...
Anywhere where there's enough foreigners that the locals don't fall over themselves (and each other) getting out of your way/ in your way when you walk into their office.
I had to go to the local government office today to apply for M's new passport. My big girl is big enough to need a new passport... sigh... It will make things easier not travelling with a 5 year old on a passport with a picture of a 5 week old though...
Anyway, I knew it wasn't going to be fun because a) our surname is unheard of around here, b) it takes a few tries before people connect the (unknown but definitely Japanese) surname with my face, c) Meg's name is an authentic, listed in the dictionary, reading of her kanji but it's so obscure noone knows it, d) not only does she have a middle name but it's a non-Japanese one at that. So, yeah, filling out forms for Meg is always up there with root canal surgery for fun ways to kill an afternoon. I will be in for it when she's old enough to have to do this herself I know- but K can take the blame for the surname!
Anyway, jauntily waltz (yes, it's possible) into the office and I'm the only person there. Smiley, friendly public servant of the year falls over her feet rushing around the counter to 'help' me. 'He-ll-oooo! Japanese OK?' I explained that actually she had just spoken English and it was pretty broken English at that. Not really what I'd call OK...
Well, that's what I wanted to say, anyway. I assured her I was doing just fine. She hovered... Thankfully someone else came in and she had to leave me all on my lonesome..
Filled in my forms and took them to the counter where smiley, friendly public servant of the year grabs her red texta and starts ticking off each line of each form. With running commentary:
"Oh! You wrote it in Japanese!"
... (wanting to say- "Yeah, sorry about that. My Arabic's a bit rusty...")
"Oh! It's for your daughter... Hmmm, she has a name from over there..."
"You mean a non-Hepburn Romanised name?"
"Oh! You know that? Well, I guess this is her second passport...
Oh! You wrote your whole address in Japanese!"
"Yes, well I live there so I see those kanji quite a bit... I made sure to memorise them."
"Oh, yes. I suppose. But Japanese is so hard- hiragana, katakana and kanji!"
"But it's all so systematic- and phonetic to boot. Spelling in English is crazy. *sigh* English is so hard..."
"... Oh! You need to sign the back of the form."
(sign name in- shock- Japanese.)
"Ahh, please write it the same as here on the family register..."
(checking) "I did."
"Ahh, you forgot the comma."
"The comma? That's not part of my name..."
"Hmmm, it's on the family register.... People over there put a comma between their last and first names."
"Really? Hmmm... I never have... OK, I guess you know how to do this, being that you do it every day, yeah?"
"...oh, look.... maybe we don't need the comma...."
"Oh! You need to sign your daughter's name and write..ahhh...um... you can write in English if you want 'by mother.'
"(writing 代筆) You mean amanuensis?"
"Oh! you know those kanji, too?"
"Yup. I used to live in a place called 代筆 so I memorised those kanji, too. Lucky, huh?"
I swear I am usually a much nicer person than that but all that 'oh!!ing' brought out my sarcastic side...
So, in a bit of an anti-Japan mood I arrive home to find my travel information has arrived. I have already submitted my passport information to this (big, nationwide foreign-community-oriented) travel company we'll just call H.E.R, so they should know my name. But this is what was sent to me:
Aghhhh!!!! Oh well, at least they've stopped calling me Mr...