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.