That’s not a joke, by the way: I heard it this morning, intended seriously. I was sitting the Nihongo Nouryoku Shiken, or Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and they said exactly that as they were testing the public address system. Quite what we were supposed to do if we couldn’t hear it, I’m not sure!

However, we could all hear it properly, including the bit where we were instructed to open our question booklets and check the number of pages and printing (this was before the listening exam). The person running the exam then started shouting at everyone over the announcement that we must close our books or be disqualified, although no one could hear her and it took her several attempts to communicate this to everyone.

I really hope that I have passed the exam this time, as I failed by a margin of 0.5% last time I took it, two years ago. I need to have learned at least 0.5%-worth of Japanese in the interim. I’m sure that I have, because I seemed to understand more and guess less this time.

The reading part was still extremely difficult. There is just so much to read and understand in a short time period that it seems impossible to actually complete it, let alone pick out the correct nuance out of a number of similar expressions. For the parts I didn’t have time to do, I filled in arbitrary answers anyway, because I should get at least 25%! I don’t think that there are negative marks for incorrect answers...

Bearing in mind that this is a multiple-choice examination, answered by drawing pencil marks onto a computer-marked sheet, you’d expect that the results come out fairly soon, right?


Test results will be sent out in mid-February! I realise that Japan’s crypto-quasi-communist bureaucratic job-creation system has to keep people employed, but that’s just ridiculous. It’s done by a machine. It can’t take two months, surely.

Yes it can. Having experienced the Japanese Post Office a few times, dealt with banks, set up contracts with utilities, I can say that it is amazing how convoluted a simple procedure can be. First, require everything to be done on paper. Then make sure that you have to write your address in at least two places on the same form. Don’t ever use the computers sitting behind to automate the procedure, but write every 783-digit code number in by hand on each of four different sheets. Stamp liberally with a wide selection of seals. Repeat. I can only imagine how depressing it must be to know that your job is one of mindless paperwork for no apparent underlying reason.

It keeps people employed, of course, to run such byzantine systems. My question is whether the system could be streamlined and the energy of these people be better directed into something that benefits society. I’m sure that it could, so why not?

Enough ranting.

I have updated my links page with a few new sites, so have a look!