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 Japan’s Japanese Proficiency Exam (by 1st level, I mean level 5, which is the lowest level of proficiency. 1 is 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 and single-spaced document of instructions on how to complete the form. To give you an idea, two pages were dedicated to correctly completing the name field of the form. “Don’t leave a space before your first name”, and an example of the wrong and right of this rule. “Don’t leave more than one space between your first and second name,” and another example of the wrong and right of this rule. “Don’t run on beyond the allocated number of spaces for letters of your name,” and an example of the wrong and right of this rule. This kept on and on and on.
We shook our heads. Both of us were 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 best to make sure the candidates would do this one small form the right way!