sick of constantly moving around and having to look for new hotels, caryn and i rented an apt here for 2 weeks. the apartment is in a small quietish neighborhood near Yoga station, on the west outskirts of tokyo. there’s kinda something cool about staying in an apt instead of a hotel. it feels more home-like. the place is absolutely tiny, as most places in tokyo are. there’s a small bedroom w/ two really crappy beds, a small tv, a small desk. there’s a “kitchen”, which is basically just a closet that you open w/ a tiny half-sized fridge, a one burner stove, and a microwave. then there’s a small cramped bathroom. heh, did i mention that everything is really small?! oh, here’s the good part: it actually comes with a washer and drier so we havent had to look for laundromats. it’s also been nice watching japanese tv. it’s not nearly as whacky as i hoped it would be, but there’s definitely still some funny stuff.
one thing we were excited about was being able to cook our own food. well.. that didnt really work out for us. although the ad said that cooking stuff would be provided, none actually was. i tried to ask the guy in the office for cooking stuff:
me – “hi! do you have stuff to cook with?”
him – “cook?” “with?”
me – “hrm. yeah… cooking. stuff to COOK with. like you know.. frying pans” (insert motion of someone shaking a firepan over a stove)
him – “oh! fry pan!” runs off, come back with the tiniest saucepan i’ve ever seen, slightly dirty.
me – “thanks! umm… but, err, we need more stuff. for COOKING! you know.. bowls and stuff?”
him – “AH! bowl! you want bowl?” he runs off, comes back w/ one bowl also slightly dirty.
me – “hrm… well. ok, i guess. thanks.”
so now we have a saucepan and a bowl, but no utensils, nothing to actually stir the food in the saucepan, or really anything. so the possibility of cooking was abandoned. instead, i decided to go buy groceries that one wouldnt need to cook. i get groceries, walk up to the front, and then notice that everyone’s bagging their own groceries. ok, well, that’s cool. i can bag my own groceries… i’ll just put them in this bag…. err.. umm.. wait a minute.. there’s no bag. thats when i realize that people bring their own bags. crap. what do i do? i frantically look around. there really are no bags. i contemplate whether i can somehow carry all this crap w/ no bag. nope. hrm.. maybe i can just steal the basket and bring it back later? so i walk back through the store and then eventually i find that you can actually buy a grocery bag for 20 cents. man, nothing is obvious around here!
tokyo doesnt really have a town center, instead the city has a bunch of different neighborhoods. the main neighborhood near us is shibuya and we pass through shibuya station every single day. many years ago, there was a guy who would always take the subway to work here and his faithful dog, hatchiko, would come to the station and wait for him to get off work. one day, the guy died, but hatchiko continued coming to the station daily and never stopped for many years until he too died. near the station, there’s now a statue of hatchiko in honor of his faithfulness and the station exit near it is named after him. hatchiko’s statue has since then become one of the most popular meeting spots in this area. the subway stations and streets are a total maze, so it’s much easier to just tell people to meet you at hatchiko. so, pretty much any time of day, there’s an endless parade of people coming by the statue and then wandering around looking for who they were supposed to meet. the people watching here is excellent.. probably the best in tokyo i’d say. shibuya also happens to be the district where all the young people hang out, so you get some really interesting characters. i could spend hours just kicking it there and seeing what happens.
and then there’s hatchiko crossing. this is the intersection by the station, and there are like 5 or 6 crosswalks all pointing in various direction and crisscrossing each other. when the light turns green, the street gets flooded w/ people from all directions. this is the most insane intersection i’ve ever seen. i would guess that there are *literally* around a thousand people that swarm across each time the light turns green.
english words become japanese
i find it totally hilarious to see how japanese people take words that are english and adopt them. for instance: puripeido kado for prepaid card, yusu hosuteru for youth hostel, or koin randorii for coin laundry. the japanese dont like to have any words that end w/ consonants, so pretty much any word they say, even if it ends in one, they’ll throw a vowel on the end.. usually an “o” or “u”. the word “included” becomes “includedo”. funny thing is, if you say the word without that last vowel, they will be completely unable to understand you. the word beer is meaningless unless pronounced beeru. also, they have difficulties w/ the letters “l” and “r”, and you’ll often see stuff written like “serect” instead of select.