Tax Office

I had to go to the tax office today to get some document. I put this chore off for a while, as the form I needed to fill out was in Japanese only, and based on previous experiences I was afraid this wasn’t going to go smoothly. I was wrong.

First, this is the line I had to wait in to get service:

That’s right, no line. I thought maybe I was lucky, but when I asked, the lady at reception told me they have a policy of minimum wait in line, so when there is more than 1 person waiting, they call staff from the back office to help. Reception is open every day, 9 to 5, no breaks. By the way, it’s hard to see in the photos, but there were pens and reading glasses available for the public to use, neatly arranged and not attached to anything.

The receptionist did not speak much English, so she fetched a young guy who did. He helped me fill out the form, and then asked whether I’d like to get it by mail, or wait 15 minutes. I said I would wait. It took 20 minutes, but on the 15-minute mark he came out to apologize for it taking longer than expected. When he approached me I was sitting on a chair, so he knelt on one knee to be at the same eye level when addressing me.

When I got the document I was surprised to see it was translated to English. I asked why, and he said: you’re a foreigner, so we help you by translating the fields for you. This is why it took longer… I was asked to pay 400 yen (4 US dollars) and left.

(This is a post in the series “Why Japan is the Closest Place to Paradise“)

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