Would someone please take my money?

Busy, busy day today. I started my “Alien Registration Card” process today with help from an Office Assistant at work. Things went quite smoothly for which I am grateful. I registered at the Ward (Naka-ku) administration building and then we went to Immigration to get a re-entry permit. When I was living in Mito I neglected to do that which caused some problems and made me get multiple gaijin cards (or Alien Registration Card). The staff was courteous and efficient at both locations. There’s no sneaking through the system now.

Unfortunately, sandwiched between the Naka-ku office and Immigration was a frustrating attempt to open a bank account. We went to three banks, and each had a reason for turning me down – some faster than others. UFJ barely let us in the door. I had to have a 判こ (hanko), which is a personal seal or a stamp. And then I needed to be living in Japan for 6 months. The post bank said a signature was fine, but after we got the paper work filled out they were unsatisfied with my passport and declared a need for my alien registration card. Sigh. SMBC (Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation) were much friendlier and explained that I need both a Hanko and my alien registration card. But they were helpful and friendly. So once I fulfill all my requirements they will get my business and probably the rest of the company’s business since the Office Assistant went through all of this with me.

As always, an adventure is life. I shouldn’t let these difficulties frustrate me so much. But that’s easier said than done.

On a good note, I got a ton done in my apartment. I have destroyed the cardboard boxes now. I have drapes up everywhere as well. Tomorrow I might take a break, but Thursday I should do dishes and get the office set up with my new monitor yeah! More pictures to come!

Trying for pictures

Well, I wanted to take you on a tour of my place.

Here’s what you see when you first walk in …

Entry to living room

Looking good. When you turn around, you get the typical beautiful Japanese front door …

Inside front door of apartment

But … look at all the closets there! Lots of places for shoes. I guess I need to buy some shoes. Just to the right side is the toilet.

Shower?  Heat?

The seat is heated. To the left when you walk in is the master bedroom that I am using for storage. Then comes the powder room and the shower / tube.


Shower / bath area

They don’t look that big but they are good sized for a Japanese place. Out of the picture is the space for my washer and dryer.

Next comes the fuller view of the living room / dining room, with my office off to the early left and my bedroom at the far end.

Looks spacious, doesn't it?

The wide angle lens make it look bigger than it is.

Here’s the office:

The Office

And here’s the bedroom:

The space I will use for a bedroom

Then as you step onto the balcony …

The view from the balcony

The view from the balcony

Not bad, huh? Finally, here is the space completely violated by boxes:

What happened to the clean apartment?

It’s hard work!

Honest to blog, it has been a lot of work today. (“Honest to blog” is a phrase Tomo has started using from “Juno”). I have my apartment, as y’all know. It is been 9 years since I really tried to make a house. Sheesh, it is a lot of work.

I went to the office on Saturday morning, but Saturday afternoon I had scheduled delivery of all my purchased things. My colleague offered to help ferry some things from the hotel to the apartment. What a great help. I really appreciated that. There are definitely some nice folks at work. Thanks MJ.

I would LOVE to show you pictures of my new place. As a matter of fact, they are in my camera. But I can’t seem to find my cable to connect it to the computer. Darn! I’ll look again tomorrow at the apartment. Anyway, I have some pictures of my pristine apartment and the craziness that it is now.

Once of the nice things about delivery in Japan is that usually the stores have the delivery folks assemble the item you purchased and then they remove the trash. I didn’t really realize how much packing material is used. Wow. So Furniture Dome was the first to arrive. Bed, mattress, duvet$$, pillows, nightstand, TV board, dining room table. I caught them assembling my bed with the headboard backwards. But … we got that turned around. Literally. The mattress was a little taller than the demo mattress so with the mattress and the pillows it is kind of hard to see the design of the bed. But I like it.

Next came the Tokyu Hands office furniture. That, unfortunately, was delivered as boxes. Honest to blog, there is a LOT of cardboard. I’ve been working over the last two days trying to build up that stuff. I am generating so much cardboard waste. Nagoya is crazy about trash, so I can’t recycle that with the regular recycling. I have to do something special with it. So it is gonna pile up in the guest room until I figure out how to get rid of it. I’m the least excited about the office furniture. I’m not sure how I want to arrange it. I have tables, chairs, a file cabinet, and book shelves. I could have done without the file cabinet. I’ll figure something out.

Next Eiden came with the refrigerator, washer, dryer, TV, and microwave. See, I really did get all this stuff planned for the same day. Pretty darn efficient. For those that miss my laundry stories, well, I did do a load of laundry. Eiden set up all the appliances as well and removed the boxes. I had them leave the TV box though so I can easily ship it. My TV has about a zillion channels but I can’t tell if there is a special weekend of free cable because I had everything. I kept getting an info box that looked like they were running some campaign so we’ll see later what the story is.

Finally, BoConcept delivered my dining room chairs. To quote Borat, “Verry Niiiccce.” Until I started tearing into everything it looked really good. I bought a duvet cover (thanks Mugi) washed it (ha!), and made the bed. It looked really nice for about 5 minutes. Then I started building up stuff. I only had the light from the living room at the time, so I was working in the dark. Anyway, got started.

Today I learned how difficult it is to run errands and buy big things without a car. This morning before I went to the apartment I bought dishes. Those were heavy! So I took a taxi with three heavy bags and dumped them in my kitchen untouched. But I wanted to get as much as I could since it is so hard to actually get to shops after work. I bought some tools as well. I wanted to get some chair mats, but apparently they were sold out. After much bad Japanese, I was able to get them to call another store and but two on hold there.

Once I got to the apartment, I started working on breaking down the cardboard. Then I kept building. Around 3:00 pm I went to lunch and got the chair mats and curtains for every room as well as shears for my room. I won’t buy custom curtains here, so the size doesn’t really work. So be it – it is what it is. I dumped that at the apartment and then went BACK to Nagoya station and bought an overhead light (and some power strips) for the office. I went BACK to the apartment, dumped that, and then went to the Apple Store and bought my new monitor ( 😀 ), some speakers, and an Airport Express. Once again, on Saturday I had Visa issues, so it was all cash except for things reimbursed by work. I caught a taxi back home (it is walkable to the Apple Store but not burdened with a monitor … do you hear that Ben, WALKABLE to the Apple Store!).

Once I got back home I hung the light, and kept working. I hung the shears and decided I liked it in combo with the curtains. Then I ran out of time.

Now I’m going to concentrate on getting the curtains up, getting everything built, and getting the kitchen clean. Then at least the place is livable. Only when I have internet will it really seem livable!

It is going to be nice. As long as I don’t look at my bank account.

Happy as a clam

Yeah! I got the keys to my apartment today. Everything went without a hitch. I was starting to freak out and wonder if I had made a mistake. After all, 800 sq ft with three bedrooms was seeming smaller and smaller and smaller. I started wondering if it was going to be a rotten place, and uncomfortable to live. After all, I had not seen it since April 8 or whatever day I first went apartment hunting (and the only day I went apartment hunting).

I am happy to report that I think I made the right decision. The apartment is really nice. Indeed it is small, but not at all small by Japanese standards. As a matter of fact, I’m sure calling it small would be offensive to many people. It is certainly more than enough for me. It has all mod cons as well. Heated floor, nice bathroom with real tile, a travertine entry way. AC in two rooms, a modern kitchen, some recessed lighting, and even a dishwasher (that I didn’t know … really not important to me but I have it). There is even a special box for residents when they receive large packages, so you don’t have to be home for that.

I am going to be very comfortable there. The noise from the street below is detectable, but remember I live near an airport and a fire station in LA, so what’s some street noise?

I’m really excited to be getting my furniture on Saturday. Yippee!!!! I’ll try to get some pictures and post them ASAP. Then Sunday will be filled with further purchases to minimally complete the place (lamps, drapes, duvet cover, etc). What a nice feeling.

Back from Germany

I had a successful but whirlwindish trip to Germany. I spent Friday morning and early afternoon just hanging out in Heidelberg, walking around the city, taking a boatride, and having lunch. Then, of course, I had to begin my travel excursion. My plane was very late leaving Frankfurt for Paris due to weather at CDG. When we arrived it was about 20 deg colder than Heidelberg and I had 25 minutes for my connection. An Air Chance (France) agent met me at the stairwell. Yes, it was a walk off the plane on to the tarmac and into a bus kind of situation. So we’re standing out with the sideways rain, the roar of jet engines around us, and she’s yelling, “Tokyo? Hong Kong? Buenos Aires?” It was like a scene from a movie. She shuttled us to the confusing terminals (made complicated by the collapse of a wall a few years ago and the resulting repair work http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/03/28/europe/cdg.php ) and informed us that our flight was delayed by 30 minutes. Still, me and another guy ran to our gate, through immigration and security. We made it to confirm that the flight was delayed. And delayed. And delayed. Once we finally got going we were running about 2 hours late. Instead of arriving at 6:00 pm I would be arriving at 8:00 pm on Saturday. Narita is one hour from Tokyo by train. That meant that the train schedule had to be perfect for me to catch the last 新幹線 (shinkansen) to Nagoya at 10:00 pm. We landed at 7:51 pm and I was through immigration, baggage claim, and customs by 8:15 pm. HOW DO THEY DO IT?!? Amazing! There was one train to Tokyo that I could take at 8:45 pm to catch my train to Nagoya. I got home no problem and was quite glad to see my hotel room.

Sunday was a non-work work day since we had a community function that we sponsored. As a result, we were somewhat obligated to go. It was fine.