Alright, so here is the process I underwent to change my license plate from this
to this (for privacy reasons, I am not including my actual license plate #):
1) Get a parking ticket by accidentally leaving your car on the wrong side of the apartment block.
2) Report said ticket to the police, which takes around 45 minutes of paperwork.
3) Be told that an Okinawa license plate is illegal if I am no longer a resident of Okinawa.
4) Pay the parking ticket (at the post office, of all places).
5) Ask the landlords for the "proof of parking space" forms.
6) Pay them a large sum just for the forms.
7) Take the forms to the police station, fill in more forms.
8) Pay them a moderate sum for processing fees.
9) Return to the police station in a week to collect the proof of parking sticker for your car.
10) Pay them a small sum for picking up the form.
11) Go to city office and get a record of your previous addresses.
12) Pay them a small sum for that record.
13) Go to the department of motorized vehicles.
14) Go to Building 1, Teller #4, for instructions on how to proceed.
15) Go to Building 2, Teller #13, collect necessary papers.
16) Pay them a tiny fee for the papers.
17) Proceed to Teller #14, collect more papers.
18) Pay them a small fee for... I'm not sure what.
19) Go back to Building 1, Teller #4, for instructions on how to fill out the papers.
20) Fill out the papers, submit them, and wait.
21) Collect the papers, and go back to Building 2, Teller #11, for more papers.
22) Collect papers, borrow a screwdriver.
23) Go back to your car, remove your old license plates.
24) Go back to Teller 11, return screwdriver and turn in old plates.
25) Go back to Building 1, Teller #4, with completed paperwork.
26) Go back to Building 2, Teller #16, fill in more paperwork.
27) Go to Teller #12, pick up new plates.
28) Pay them a moderate fee for the new plates.
29) Go to Teller #11, borrow the screwdriver again.
30) Put on the new plates.
31) Wait for one of their men to affix the safety screw cover (see left side of picture 2).
32) Give him the screwdriver.
33) Congratulations, you may now drive legally in Kobe!
Of course, if I had parked properly, I could have avoided steps 1-4. But without that parking violation and the ensuing ticket, I would have never known that I had been breaking the law all along!
And so my car adventures come to an end... for now! Hopefully my blog will have more new posts about something other than motorized vehicles soon!