Apple Country

Stories of rural life as an ALT in a northern Japanese fishing town.

An encounter with the law

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My weekend got off to a slightly hairy start when I was driving to a party on Friday night and got pulled over by the police.  Admittedly I was going a little bit over the speed limit, as I was already late to meet a friend so we could go to the party together.  The car in front was going infuriatingly slow so I overtook them.  A few seconds later I heard sirens and saw flashing lights in my rear-view mirror and it took me a moment to realise that I was actually being pulled over.  I’ve never really been (directly) in trouble with the police back home, so I was a bit worried about how things would be handled in Japan.  I’d heard they were super strict and it’s even possible for foreign residents to get deported if they’re caught speeding excessively (which I wasn’t but the thought crossed my mind nonetheless) so I was slightly worried!

While he was driving me to the police station in my car I asked if I’d have to stay overnight and he said once it was all sorted out I could drive back home, so at least I knew it wasn’t too serious.  When I walked into the reception area all the officers behind the counter seemed a bit surprised to see me – I expect there isn’t much going on in such a small town and it must’ve been a rarity to see a foreigner turn up!

It turns out I wasn’t pulled over for speeding, which is what I’d assumed all along, but for overtaking on a no-overtake line.  I didn’t find this out until about an hour later when the policeman actually told me what I’d done!!  I’d completely forgotten about this rule because the road was like a highway and there was plenty of room to overtake but oh well.  I was fined 9,000 yen (about 50 quid) which I gladly accepted seeing as they didn’t call my supervisor out and the whole thing only lasted about 2 hours.  So this all happened because I was 15 minutes late and of course I ended up being 2 hours late!  But I promise I’ve learnt my lesson and as a result I’m now slightly scared of any flashing lights I see whilst driving in the dark.

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