Saturday, October 23, 2010

My New Apartment!

Hey Everyone!
I am now an official Tokyo apartment dweller. I managed to get the contract signed for my new digs and went to the ward office and changed the address on my Alien Registration Card. I got a book (in English) of the rules for garbage collection in my new ward (about 20 pages) and I even managed to figure out the bus routes near my new place.
I have posted some pictures, and there will be more to come. I am so excited I can't stand it.
When I showed Sanshiro San the pics (especially the ones of the blue double doors at the entrance, he said "ru-bu hoteru mitai" some of my geek brethren will be able to make that out, for the rest of you I will translate "It looks like a love hotel."
Now for those of you who do not know what love hotels are...They are hotels which specialize in short term stays (from a few hours to overnight) for couples. I did not take this as a bad thing. Love hotels are designed to be pretty (Sleazy but still pretty).
So I have been running constantly for the last week, finishing the contracts, changing my address, spending too much on furniture etc., but while I was returning home on the train I thought of some things that I have learned about Tokyo that I could share with y'all.

1. In Tokyo you are never more than 10 meters away from coffee. Any kind of coffee you want all you have to do is turn around and Bam! there it is. Buying hot coffee in bottles out of vending machines is definitely one of my top 10 things to love about Tokyo. Oh and along the same lines as the coffee, you are never more than 30 meters away from a bakery. Yes Tokyo is a precision engine that is fueled on espresso, lattes and cake.

2. Politeness is direly important in Japan...unless you are trying to go somewhere. People here are incredibly polite unless they are driving, taking public transportation or walking in a crowded area. Aggressive does not begin to describe the skills you need to acquire in order to get around.

3. You can pay your utility bills, national health bill, pension premium etc. at almost any convenience store. How cool is that. You slip your bill into your pocket in the morning and when you get to the station you run into the convenience store grab a coffee and a piece of cake pay for them and your gas bill and then jump on the train.

4. We always think of Japanese food as being healthy...and traditional Japanese food is healthy. As for the other 90% of the food in Tokyo...there is no such thing as lean meat...anything can be made more delicious by putting mayonnaise, butter or an egg on it...and by the way, did I mention the cake?

That's all for this post kiddies.
Love being here, but miss being home.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Where the Hell Have I Been?

I just thought I would get that question out of the way first, because I am sure that is what most of you are thinking.

Answer: Nowhere

I have been in the ditch lately. I had a nice round of depression liberally peppered with anxiety attacks, but luckily this all went on during mid-terms so I was too busy to actually do anything about it.

I am beginning to feel more like my usual genki self again, so no worries.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Sort of. Tomorrow is my birthday here. My birthday in the U S actually doesn't happen until after bed time tomorrow night. Either way, everyone should think of me and eat cake.

I am going out with some friends from school to go shopping in Shinjuku. Shinjuku has some of my favorite shops. Places where the cuteness of the merchandise and the abundance of Hello Kitty related items give off such an aura of girliness that it creates a tangible force which is able to physically repel anyone with testicles. At least I am pretty sure that is why you can't drag guys within ten feet of these places.

Ok, I have indulged myself enough in my pre-shopping fantasies.

I may have mentioned before that I get a lot of "glance and look away" here in Japan. That means that people see me and I am a tall gaijin (foreigner)with big curly hair wearing a pink tie dye so they sort of glance at me and then look away without making eye contact. If you want to imagine why, put yourself in this position. You are on a subway train and very close to you is a guy with an iguana on his head. You don't want to look like you are staring at him, but you have to look because, dammit he's got an iguana on his head. Yes, I have been walking around Tokyo with an invisible iguana on my head.

Now, the reason I bring this up is...about 10 days ago I kept getting a lot of guys actually looking directly at me. Most of them would see me look up and they would give me a smile or a nod. It totally freaked me out. After a couple months of "glance and look away" I was flipping out trying to figure out why I was getting actual visual contact of some sort. Then these two guys in about there late twenties sat across from me on the train, and one of them looked at me and then turned and said something to his friend, and then the friend looked at me and they started talking together smiling and glancing over. I was pissed. I was sure that these guys were talking smack about me, so I started listening in on what they were saying for specific words, foreigner, strange, chubby (actually I'm not that chubby anymore) and some others that I am familiar with, but they did not seem to be saying anything negative so I just got more confused. A couple of minutes later I got bored and dropped my head forward to doze a little bit (yes, like everyone else in Tokyo, I nap on the train) when I dropped my head forward I finally figured everything out...
for men in Tokyo, seeing cleavage is sort of like seeing a shooting star. They've seen it before, but it is still rare enough to be sort of amazing. This particular day I was wearing a tank under a zip up hoodie which I had not zipped all the way up and since I sit with my arms crossed in front of me while I am on the train...I was showing off the sweater puppies to their best advantage. Needless to say it does a housewife/mom/student's heart good to know the girls have still got it.

On that happy note, I'm heading for the futon.

P.S. My memory card for my camera died a horrible death, until Dave mails me my spare I am picture deficient. Next post will hopefully be about my new apartment, I put in an offer on one and I am just waiting to hear back from the real estate agent.

Until next time