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Thank You and OK!: an American Zen Failure in Japan
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[DC notes to self and others in brackets]

Chapter 64


April 13, 1990   -   GOOD FRIDAY THE 13TH


Spring is here and winter is truly gone.  We realize now that something in us has relaxed, something that shored us up against the cold, the cold that is omnipresent even in the mild Maruyama winter in these uninsulated buildings without wasteful and dear old central heating.  Today was a good day.  It's even Good Friday.  And it's not your run of the mill Good Friday either - it's Good Friday the thirteenth.  Elin and i had decided in the morning that the combination might be propitious and we were right.  For something that had been keeping the brain weevils (as Norman says) fed was cast aside today.  I got a call from Miyake at Immigration concerning my request for permission to work.  I was, in fact, working at the moment and had left my class to answer the phone.  The request was granted and thus I am no longer a criminal - at least in that particular way.  Thus ends, for now, a long road to almost complete legitimacy.

Elin already had permission to teach.  Over half a year ago Miyake had told her it would be appropriate for her to apply.     At that time he said, "The money you saved to study here must be getting low now, and since your husband has the visa to study and you have the spouse visa, they would expect you to be the one working."

"The Osawa Culture Center wants me to work for them," she had said.

"Get a letter from them saying they want to employ you.  That should do it," he had said pulling their brochure from his files.  Our eyes bulged.  We knew that brochure.  Her name was already printed in it as one of their teachers.  Miyake had glanced through the pages and set it down without expression.  Had he seen it?

When the brochure had first come out I called up Bop in Kyoto and said we're dead for sure.  As always, he calmed me down.

"You're on a cultural visa," he said.

"She's on a spouse's visa."

"Same thing.  No problem.  Teaching without permission on a visa other than tourist is a minor infraction.  The worst that could happen is you'd have to write a letter of apology to the Minister of Culture.  And they'd probably make you sit in their office at Ozu all afternoon and listen to a lecture."

"That would be awful.  Now they've got proof."

"You know Bob here in Kyoto?"

"Of course."

"He's running classes out of five apartments - it's a major language school and it's got his name on it.  He went to Immigration and they asked if he was teaching - this is before he got permission - and he said no.  Then they showed him one of his ads from the busses and trains.  He said that no one had responded.  They just stuck it back in their file and he didn't even have to write a letter of apology.  So don't worry, no one's going to bother you."

Therefore we hadn't worried (officially) about the brochure with Elin's name on it but we did swallow hard when Miyake brought it out that day half a year ago.

When Elin and I renewed our visas a month ago, Miyake (continuing to compassionately guide us step by step) had suggested that if I wished, I could apply for permission to work.

"I thought you said I should forget about that."

"You've been here long enough.  They'll understand.  The worst thing you could do now is to teach without permission."

Flashing red light.  I applied and got the response.  What a relief!  Legal at last.  Of course, technically I only have permission to teach four hours a week at a local kindergarten where I've been teaching for a year, but once I've got permission to teach somewhere, according to Bop, that's it - that's as close as one can get to perfect compliance while teaching private classes here and there.

After we got that phone call, Elin let out a "yiperoo!" and we danced around and acted silly.  Then I returned to the English class with two young single piano teachers in the living room.  They were in hysterics over our celebration.