No society is without its quirks… and the Japanese society is no exception to that rule.

Written by Lorna Shapiro

My husband Vic is registering to take the 1st level of Japan’s Japanese Proficiency Exam (by 1st level, I mean level 5 which is the lowest level of proficiency… 1 being the highest level of proficiency).  Two nights ago he opened his information package, preparing to complete the two page form required to apply for the test.  Accompanying the two page form, was a 32-page, single spaced, document of instructions on how to correctly complete the form.  To give you the idea, 2 pages were devoted to how to correctly  complete the name field of the form… don’t leave a space before your first name, example of wrong and right of this rule; don’t leave more than one space between your first and second name, example of wrong and right of this rule; don’t run on beyond the allocated number of spaces for letters of your name, example of wrong and right of this rule,… and on and on and on… We shook our heads, both of us were absolutely confounded by what anyone must have been thinking to create this set of instructions.  But, as we know, there are right and wrong ways of doing pretty much everything in Japan, and someone was doing their level best to make sure the candidates would do this one small form the right way!