Starting to get to the details

I had a Saturday off! Thursday my boss told me to take Saturday off. Can I argue with that? This time I quickly said, “OK” and took today off. Well, I mean, it IS the weekend after all. I got to catch up with a few people in the morning and then sleep a little bit more. It was so nice to sleep in. Having a two day weekend is kind of like what a three day weekend feels like. I still have all day tomorrow!

First of all, I wasn’t anywhere near the 7.0 earthquake in northern Japan. Don’t worry about me there.

The couch arrived with no complications. It is bigger in the apartment than it was in the store. It is fine – no problem there. It is rather modern. Low and square. It fits the apartment. Some might find the apartment a little cold but I like it. Just need to get some black and white photos on the wall to dress it up a little bit.

As for my monitor and printing … I can happily say that my 23 inch Apple monitor is so darn close to the color test card that I really don’t need to update the color profile. Yeah! We’ll see how the black and white come out but I suspect they should be good.

Today was spent looking for more things I think I need in the apartment. First and foremost on the list were toiletries. I needed shampoo, toothpaste, and shaving cream. I have determined that I have very extreme brand loyalty. If I find something I like I just don’t deviate. At all. I brought two brand new tubs of Sebastian Molding Mud with me so I wouldn’t run out. Unfortunately L’Occitane in Japan does not sell shaving cream. Arm and Hammer do not seem to be present in the dental market here. And you can forget the usual shampoo. I think I shopped for about 1 hour in a specialty store just trying to find the things that I buy without even a thought in the US. Try to find deodorant in Japan. I don’t think I have!

I got a little seat for my shower / tub. Very Japanese. On the weekends I can take a leisurely shower sitting as if I’m at an onsen. It is really quite effective. If I did that on weekdays I’d never make the train. I also got a humidity gauge and thermometer for my office. It gets hot in here and so I’m trying to determine if I should turn on the AC. I bought lots of little things to help organize the office (mail sorter, coin boxes, bookends, …) I added coffee mugs and some placemats and coasters to the kitchen. And I finally bought another light! It is very simple. An aluminum ring with a white globe. Muji of course. I’ll buy one more light for the guest room. I need to decide what to get. Hopefully tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Well, I’m out of energy. Maybe more tomorrow.

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!

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.

Thank goodness for Muji

[Actually written the evening of May 11 but had connection troubles …] How did it get to be 10:30 pm already? I can’t tell you how hard it is to find a duvet cover in Japan. When I called my friend Kevin, he just sighed. Buy them in the States or have them custom made was his suggestion. The enormous department stores all had the same few brands. I don’t think I need a Burberry duvet cover. The last time I was here, I had good luck with the store Muji (www.muji.net). It is kind of cheap but not really. It just seems to have the things you need. So … we made our way to Muji and guess what?!? They had duvet covers that were nice enough AND the right size AND not that expensive. Cool. Now all I need is an apartment. Oh, I tried to extend my hotel and of course they are full. But I am guess I can get past that. Muji also has silverware, dishes, glasses, cookware, etc.

We had a nice day just checking out places around Nagoya and getting to know the area.

That’s all. Just thought you’d like to know about duvet covers.

Relaxing

It is Sunday morning. I’d love to be in my apartment, nursing a cup of tea while I catch up on life via the internet. Already this morning I’ve paid bills, read the news (if anything CNN posts could actually be called news), and generally futzed around. But, alas, I’m doing this all in the confines of my hotel room. As expected, I didn’t get in to my apartment before Friday. Now, the estimated date is June 1. June 1! That’s crazy. I’ve asked the relocation company to try to accelerate that. Yesterday my shipment from LA arrived at the hotel, so I have two large boxes of my stuff, one medium box of stuff, a boxed MacPro computer which I am dying to use (but I have no monitor yet), a printer, and 5 suitcases worth of clothing and accessories (only three suitcases but I took multiple trips so it kind of adds up to be 5 suitcases).

We got a slight taste of summer here in Nagoya last week. It got warm and humid enough to turn on the AC in the factory, and then turned wet and cool while the AC stayed on. I froze in the factory yesterday!

Tomo came down to Nagoya to help me move this weekend. Ooops. Well, glad he’s here. We went to Yamachan for dinner on Friday night. Yamachan is a famous Nagoya tebasaki (手羽先) restaurant. Basically, spicy chicken wings. They were sooooo good. Probably not that healthy but delicious. The bad news is there are two Yamachans within one block of my apartment. I’ll have to watch my consumption. I worked Saturday and got home about 4:00 pm. Then we went bowling! It was a good time. A wee bit more expensive here of course. But hey, why not? We didn’t completely embarrass ourselves, so that’s cool.

As much whining as I’ve been doing about not being in my apartment, I am very comfortable in the hotel. The Nagoya Marriott starts on the 15th floor of a skyscraper. My room is the 31st floor. The room is comfortable, the hotel is comfortable, and since it is literally on top of Nagoya station, there are a ton of restaurants nearby. Things are walkable as well. It isn’t like when I was staying at the Intercontinental in Luxembourg. That was outside of town, no nearby restaurants, and just depressing. No one has to feel bad for me in the hotel here.

On Tuesday I’m off to Germany to present a paper at a conference. My first paper! It is not a good time to leave, but is there ever? Fortunately, I have management support.

Finally, I thought I’d show a few pictures looking out my window here on an overcast morning in Nagoya.

Looking North and East from the hotel

Looking East from the hotel

Looking South and East from the hotel towards Mode Hall