My Japanese passport expired last month, meaning I've been a citizen here for a full decade now. Hooray.

This should have occasioned thoughts on what's changed in Japan for the better. Instead I got to see how inflexible Japan's bureaucracy remains. Consider what happened when I visited Sapporo's Ministry of Foreign Affairs branch to get that passport renewed.

I walked in with all the necessary documentation and filled out the forms. The friendly clerk gave everything a once-over (very professionally; no double-takes at a Caucasian applicant), and all was going smoothly . . . until he got to the rendering of my name in Japanese.