Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Recently my younger brother Gyano has taken up basketball. He is in the schoolteam and yesterday was his first basketball tournament. I had to go to work, so I didn't really have time to make an appearance as one of his cheering fans, but this may be his only tournament before I depart to Japan, so I was compelled to go anyway.

Some of the girls of the school's female basketball team
My mother and I went to watch him play for 20 minutes, which wasn't even enough to see him finish the first half of his first match of the day. He played three games that day, and his team only lost the first one, which was the one we saw partly. But it was still fun to see.

Gyano (the only one wearing black) in action

My mom really got into the game and actually tensed up when the other team was getting near the basket of Gy's team, and only when she (silently) yelled out "yes" I realized Gyano's team had scored a goal too. I on the other hand wasn't really aware what was going on in the game itself, I was trying to take pictures of my brother playing basketball. But he played on the court furthest away from the bleachers, so I couldn't really get a good shot.

Gyano's team was playing on the court all the way in the back

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Japanese visa

Last Friday, I visited the Japanese embassy in The Hague to apply for a Japanese working visa. I brought my Certificate of Eligibility, a filled-out application form and a passport picture, handed it all to the lady behind the counter and left the building to come back two hours later and pick it up. I think I only spend about 5 minutes in the embassy and was asked no questions nor submitted to any test.
Japanese embassy in the sun and without enough wind to display the flag properly
When I applied for an American visa in 2003, things didn't go quite as quickly and smoothly as it did with the Japanese embassy. I spent about 2 hours lining up, every applicant was thoroughly checked by means of a metal detector and a manual search through our bags, and I was asked several questions about my study abroad. The application form was very extensive and asked for extremely detailed information, which took a lot of effort to dig up, and even had a list of questions enquiring about my potential terrorist activities!
With Negin in Delft (near The Hague)
So obtaining my Japanese working visa wasn't a problem at all and I had enough time to catch up with an old friend that I hadn't seen for about 3 years. The last time I saw her was when she came to welcome me home at Schiphol airport after my semester at Emory University. I got in touch with her again via Hyves, which is similar to facebook and mainly frequented by Dutchies.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Certificate of Eligibility

If a foreigner wishes to enter Japan for work he or she needs a working visa. To be granted a visa you should first obtain a Certificate of Eligibility. The Certificate of Eligibility is issued by the Regional Immigration Bureau in Japan. To obtain a Certificate of Eligibility, the applicant must ask a proxy in Japan (an employer, spouse, school, etc.) to contact the nearest Regional Immigration Bureau and make an application on his or her behalf. With the Certificate of Eligibility the foreigner can obtain a working visa from the local Japanese embassy.
I was a bit worried about obtaining my Certificate of Eligibility because of my Dutch citizenship and my Master's degree instead of a Bachelor's degree. My Master actually includes a Bachelor, but I obtained my degree in the old Dutch doctoral system at my university, which doesn't seperate the two degrees. The Certificate of Eligibility isn't supposed to be issued until a few weeks before departure, and the uncertainty of being approved (or not) by Japanese Immigration was making me a bit antsy.
But AEON NYC called me with good news this week: my Certificate of Eligibility has been issued and is on its way to me! Awesome! This means that I can go ahead and obtain my working visa soon and start wrapping my head around the fact that I am really going to Japan to teach English at AEON and be with Yasu!

I can now firmly stamp my name before the AEON logo because it is really going to happen!