Sunday, December 12, 2004

Little Bit Frustrated Here...

I just got an e-mail from my supervisor, who is trying to do the paperwork to get my sword out of the country. It seems that it takes 2 weeks to process the paperwork, so I will not be able to mail my sword before I go, nor will I be able to take it with me. My only options are to leave it here, and (a) have somebody forward it to me when the paperwork clears, or (b) keep it here until I return in April.

The only problem is that I might NOT return in April. And, I don't know how much I like the idea of it not getting oiled for 4 months. I'm very frustrated right now because everything in this country takes such a long time to process ... the bureaucracy here is staggering. In any given institution here (schools, hospitals, town offices, you name it) the sheer number of office workers is amazing. You would think that things would move a little more quickly, but every time you turn around, you have to fill out a form, so perhaps it's not surprising that things take forever.

For example, it took me a full month to get my foreigner's registration card. This is a photo ID with my name and address on it. In Canada, you can imagine getting something like this in an hour or so... like renewing your driver's licence, maybe. But here it takes a month. Crazy.

Now this. I can't imagine what they are actually doing with this paperwork for one month. It sits on somebody's desk for 29 days, and on the 30th day, somebody reads it over, stamps it with 6 different stamps, photocopies it, files the copy, and sends it back to me. And like I said last time, this is to take this object OUT of the country.

I can't figure out if this whole process is in place because (a) swords are dangerous and must be controlled, or (b) swords are important cultural items and must be controlled. I have a bad feeling that someday, some lunatic is going to attack somebody with a semi-sharp iaito, and the government is going to realize, "Hey, fake swords are almost as dangerous as real swords. Let's make fake swords illegal." And then only people with "art swords" will be able to practice iai. Everyone who can't afford $5000 + swords will have to use bokuto... until another lunatic with a bokuto... ahhhh, you get the idea. Or maybe the government will start telling people, "Your sword is MUCH too important a cultural item for you to actually be using it like that. It might get damaged. Please voluntarily entrust it to us for safekeeping."

Ah well. Not feeling too charitable about the government at this moment. Argghhh.


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