Date with Baby – Japanese Passport & Pickup in Shinjuku
Baby just got out of the womb not too long ago, and already she has TWO international trips planned this year. Lucky girl! I did my first international flight at 19- she’s going on her first flight at 5 months!
Back in March, we already went to the US embassy to apply for baby’s US passport, Certificate of Birth Abroad, and Social Security Number.
The US requires both parents to be present when applying for a minor’s passport. I had to consult with my husband’s schedule, then make an appointment to go to the US Embassy. In addition, also needed to get her US passport first. I needed to submit it as proof of the desired spelling for her name on the Japanese passport.
I initially considered scheduling an appointment at the embassy so that our visit would be a week after baby’s first set of vaccines were complete. However, her first set of vaccines would happen in April when she was 2 months old, I didn’t want to push my luck in applying for her passport so close to our departure in June.
We all went by car, and were in and out in less than 30 minutes. Thankfully, the US embassy offers the option of receiving passports by mail, so we didn’t need to trek back to the city to pick up her passport.
Now, it was time to apply for her Japanese passport. I’d been putting it off for so long for several reasons, mainly because the passport center is too far away. Unfortunately, for me the “nearest” passport center is technically in Ichikawa, in Chiba prefecture, literally right across the river. I could be there and back home in under 90 minutes. But, alas as I am not a resident of Chiba, baby and I had to go all the way to Shinjuku.
It was a weekday, right before the Golden Week holidays, and I already read on the Bureau of Culture and Citizen Affairs’ website that I could expect a waiting time of up to three hours. I wasn’t about to be in line for 3 hours with a baby, so I planned to wake up early and arrive at the center at least 30 minutes before they opened.
Unlike US passports where both parents need to be present or in the absence of one parent a notarized form needs to be submitted, there is no such requirement for parents/guardians when applying for a Japanese passport, so I made the choice to take baby to Shinjuku in early May.
I woke up at 6:30, took out Kokuto for his morning walk, did my makeup, got dressed, and nursed baby. Then, we left home at 7:30 and took the bus to the nearest train station. By then it was 7:45 and approaching rush hour. It was not our first time on the train but definitely the first time to ride on a crowded train car.
Luckily for us, the “Women Only” car was comparatively spacious, and we had no problem. Baby was sleeping so that made the train ride all the better.
We arrived at the passport center around 8:45. There were already 25 to 30 or so people in line in front of us. Baby started to fuss, and as I adjusted my Ergo Baby so that I could nurse her, a mom with a slightly older baby turned around and gave me a sympathetic look. I was impressed- on top of baby wearing, she was also lugging around her stroller. Incredible!
As we waited in line, I tried to fill out the application form while dancing to keep baby calm. I’m not the best writer. Plus writing while swaying back and forth to soothe a crying baby is difficult, to say the least.
At last, it was 9am and the doors opened. I submitted my paperwork for review but spent around 10 minutes explaining how I wanted baby’s name to appear on her passport. Generally, when applying for a Japanese passport, applicants must use the Hepburn system to romanization for their names as it appears on the family register. I was very particular about using the ”western” spelling of her name which obviously did not confirm to the Hepburn system.
Her Japanese name as it is on the family register is 鈴木 真李沙* is which is technically transliterated as Suzuki Marisa. But, on her US passport it’s Suzuki Melissa with “Grace” as her middle name, just as I wanted it to be when I filled out the Affidavit of Child’s name. I wanted both the Hepburn version and western version on the Japanese passport. I had to write “Merisa (Melissa Grace)” on the application.
*Obviously not baby’s name, but just to give you an idea.
We waited for documents review and for our number (we were number 33). Baby got very cranky around number 27. Poor baby. Waiting was harder on her than it was for me. Thankfully our number was eventually called. I received the receipt to pick up the passport a few days and we were off…. But, not before heading to the nursery room to calm down baby and give her some TLC.
Two weeks later, we were on the train headed back to Shinjuku to pick up baby’s passport. I used the stroller this time as we were only going to pick up the psssport. We didn’t have to wait in line, meaning I could avoid using the train during rush hour.
The last time we went I used the baby carrier. I realized that I made a mistake in using the stroller. I had no idea how to navigate the stairs of the underground passageway. We took elevator to ground level, walking through the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tochou). Then we rode a different elevator to get back to the underground passageway leading to the Passport Center.
After living in Nishi-Shinjuku I complained lots when I moved to east Tokyo with my husband. The convenience of life there is unbeatable. However, life in Nishi-Shinjuku is perhaps only convenient if you’re single.
But, look at this view, though…
Baby, however, was unimpressed with my former home. I think she prefers the greenery and abundance of doggies back where we live.
Date with Baby – Japanese Passport & Pickup in Shinjuku
Check out how to get a Japanese passport for baby: