Living the urban life

I’ve had a car of my own since I was 18 years old. That is at least 10 years. Or more. Now I am carless. What do you do when you want to get a 42.4 lb (19.2 kg) computer to the Apple Store to have a wireless card installed? If you live in LA – you simply put it in your car and drive to the Apple Store and carry it in. But I believe I just pointed out that I don’t have a car. Also, what do you do in the middle of rainy season? My only option was to hail a taxi and time it when the rain wasn’t too heavy. So that’s what I did today. I schlepped my MacPro (in its box) to the Apple Store, expecting to maybe leave it overnight to get a wireless card installed. At 7:30 pm they suggested that it could be ready in an hour. Cool! Welcome to Japan customer service (in spite of my earlier rant about my commuter pass the service really is good over here). That gave me an hour to spend money … I mean kill. Unfortunately most shops close at 8:00 pm. Except apparently the Apple Store. I decided to go to LaChic. On my way there I heard, “Jonathan!” I bumped into one my colleagues (American) who lives in the area too. That was funny. So I wandered around LaChic and ended up having dinner and checking it out. Now I know where I can go to D&G, Comme des Garcons, Banana Republic (nothing fits me there since it is an Asian cut), among other places. I went back to the Apple Store (it looked like there had been a downpour in the meantime), waited another 10 minutes, and then loaded the box into a taxi and made it home! Round trip taxi fare about 1260 yen, or $11. That’s the cost of living in Japan. Not bad really.

Why didn’t I get a wireless card to start with and why do I need one now? Interesting question. At the time I bought my Mac I had no idea about coming to Japan. So I figured I could just use a wireless bridge if necessary, and anyway my desktop is connected straight to my LAN. Here in Japan, I’m still connected to the LAN but I wanted to use this computer for music too since my laptop disk is full (how do you fill 80 GB? Music and photos). Yesterday in between rain showers I bought an AV セット(AV Set – home theatre system), a really cheap one! I hooked my TV up to it and now my TV sound comes through speakers. Not great sound but OK. I also have an AirTunes Express (Airport Express) to create a wireless network in my apartment. I hooked that up to the AV Set too so now I can stream music wirelessly, provided of course I can go wireless. My laptop was fine – but I needed my desktop to stream as well. It became an obsession. Anyway, it is cool – I can stream to them and also use my speakers in the office and so my house is a chamber of music (through cheap speakers unfortunately). How about that?!?

Yesterday (and today) I did some bicycle shopping. I found a local bike shop where I can order an around the city bike. Cool. I wanted to check out another bike shop too, but I’d rather spend a little more money at a local place than less at a Walmart-ish chain. I’ve decided on a Bridgestone. It rivals my Litespeed I think. It may end up the same color. It is available in silver, blue, and black. A tough decision. I might trick it out and put a rack / basket on the back. Tomo needs a place to ride side-saddle like in all the J-movies I’ve seen. Almost all these bikes are produced in China. Here’s an interesting link about Japanese bicycle production.

So that’s one of my plans for the week – to order my bike and hopefully get it for the weekend. Current weather forecast? Rain!

Oh, one other thing – in what I think is some good news it looks like I can buy printer ink here. I don’t want to speak too soon, but the product ID of one of the ink series matches my US product ID. Of course, there is nothing similar in terms of printer model numbers or ink series. Sigh. On the bright side I finally found something cheaper in Japan than the US!

And yes, I know this is all rather mundane. For those looking for a theme – yes I actually was doing some laundry when I wrote this. Some things in the dryer. But anyway, daily existence happens whether it is in Nagoya, El Segundo, or Buck Creek (a real town in Indiana).

Where am I?

I stumbled across this when I was looking for a bicycle the other day. Say what!?!?

Uh, where am I?

I guess Los Angeles and Nagoya are sister cities. When I get homesick I can walk over Anthony Quinn and Olivia Newton-John. And I am a little homesick right now. I miss having friends outside of work. Sniff, sniff. I’m fine. I’m going to Tokyo in 3 weeks.

Maybe it isn’t so 田舎 after all

Tonight Tomo and I went to dinner at “La Table” by Joel Robuchon here in Nagoya. “La Table” in Tokyo is a Michelin one star restaurant but I don’t think it has any stars here in Nagoya. It doesn’t matter. It is nice to be able to walk to such a fine restaurant. I’m really enjoying the urban lifestyle although I’m not sure my wallet enjoys it so much. We started with champagne, had a nice white with our appetizers, and then a fine red for the mains. I chose the lower price Menu de Saison, while Tomo opted without any shyness for the Menu de something. Since we are not really foodies, I didn’t take any pictures or notes, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. It was really our first celebration dinner here. Yum! It was nice!

蒸し暑くなる

Well, it’s here. The rainy season, accompanied by hot and humid temperatures has arrived. I was hoping that if it finally started to rain today, the air would cool down. Nope. It just made it worse. Sticky, sticky.

That’s all. For those that know hot and humid Japanese weather, you can understand. You can imagine how comfortable the fast walks from the office to the train station are, the walks through the station, etc. But anyway, that’s part of the adventure, right?

I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien …

I’m not an Englishman in New York, but I am a legal alien. I have my official Certificate of Alien Registration, recorded at the local Ward office. A Ward ( 区, ku, in this case) is sort of like a township. I guess. It is hard to describe exactly what a Ward is. No complications whatsoever. It is my third gaijin card. The first two I had to give up when I left the country. This one allows multiple entry (that was through the regional immigration office).

After I got my gaijin card, I went with a Japanese colleague to open a bank account. Opening a bank account is never easy in any language. Opening one in Japanese did not disappoint. I was asked if I wanted a Visa card … then when they found out that I hadn’t been in the country for 6 months the offer was rescinded … then when they found out I was employed they offered the credit card again. Why do I want a credit card? Well, you never know when the three that I currently have will fail. Anyway, it is my Japan emergency credit card.

As I said, I needed a hanko (personal stamp) to open an account. It seems so arbitrary. I just buy this stamp and then somehow it is official? My name in katakana isn’t particularly beautiful either – フィシュ. I wanted to use the kanji for fish, 魚, but all my J-friends thought that would not work well. It turns out every time I made a little mistake like a cross out or anything like that, I had to STAMP! the mistake. I felt so imperfect – my application was filled with lots of little red stamped circles. Stupid foreigner. The choices were very confusing to me and my helper. I remember when I helped Tomo open an account at the credit unionI had a hard time suggesting the proper choices. Japan was no different.

Not much else to report. Working. Eating, Sleeping. I got a call tonight that basically said I might have to go from my frying pan pressure job here in Nagoya and go help out on a super hot wok job in the States for a bit. I don’t want to go. I want to be “home” in Nagoya for a while.

OK, I’m outta here for now. More later.