Our Apartment in Japan

13 06 2009

Our apato is large by Japanese standards, and only 2 years old (10 years old is considered VERY old and ready to knock down. The building standards aren’t very high – houses go up in about 2 weeks and look like cardboard cutouts stuck together. Insulation is a plastic sheet between the inner wall and the outer wall. They aren’t built to last.)

So here’s our apartment:

If you remember, here are the photos from before we moved in. Toshy took these photos before we knew we would definitely be living here.





Chiba Castle and other adventures

13 06 2009

Our apato is all set up now. We hired a car so we could buy the last of our furniture and carry it home.

We got a very cute green Mazda Demio. I’m seriously considering buying a bright green Kermit the frog car when we return to Adelaide, converting it to electric and calling it “The Green Car”. At least it’s easy to spot in the car park.

Benno in matching green with our hire car.

Benno in matching green with our hire car.

We drove the 50km to Chiba, which took about 2 hours (there’s real traffic on these roads). While I had printed off strip maps from google maps, the GPS navigation in the car was very handy in knowing where we were.

Inside the car - the navigation panel and the road.

Inside the car - the navigation panel and the road.

First stop was IKEA where we got a sofa bed couch for when people stay. We also stocked up on raspberry jam and vegan swedish dark chocolate. We tried to go shopping at Costco Wholesale but it was packed with Japanese people getting bargains in their ultra-big shopping trolleys.  We realised that it was a members only store and couldn’t be bothered signing up for $50, so we heading to Chiba Castle for lunch.

Chiba Castle, Chiba.

Chiba Castle, Chiba.

The five story castle doesn’t seem to feature much in the tourist guides – even the Chiba local government tourist website doesn’t mention it. Maybe it’s because it’s actually a ferroconcrete reconstruction of the original built in 1126. Still, it had some nice grounds and we were able to have our bento lunch under the shade of a tree.

Benno enjoying his bento lunch by Chiba Castle.

Benno enjoying his bento lunch by Chiba Castle.

Lara in front of Chiba Castle.

Lara in front of Chiba Castle.

Chiba Castle from the car park side - is this the front, or the back?

Chiba Castle from the car park side - is this the front, or the back?

Stone Lantern by a small shrine in the Chiba Castle park.

Stone Lantern by a small shrine in the Chiba Castle park.

After our bento we heading back to Kisarazu along highway route 16. We did some extra furniture shopping at Nitori and D2 – a spare futon for visitors, some curtains, a rug and a small saucepan for making sauces.

In the evening we watched The Bourne Identity on TV in English (we found the movie channel!) sitting on our new couch. We had the options of watching it in Japanese (dubbed), English (original) or both (Japanese coming from the left speaker, English coming from the right speaker – very confusing to listen to having all those voices at once.)





Week 4 Highlights

2 05 2009

Tuesday: Our dining table was delivered in the morning, along with a rug for under Benno’s office desk. No more cardboard box dining table! That pretty much completes our furniture requirements. We also collected our Alien Registration cards from the City Hall office. Dinner was mushroom stroganoff and chocolate pudding.

When we were in Tokyo we found a Studio Ghibli etc merchandise shop in Akihabara. Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service now adorns my school bag. So cute!

jiji

Wednesday: We paid our first electricity bill at the convenience store, paid our rent, posted a parcel at the Post Office. All of my classes sat their first science topic tests this week. Dinner was roast vegetables and gravy.

Saturday: After traditional breakfast of pancakes we had the last lot of our large furniture delivered – washing machine, TV, TV stand. One of the delivery guys had about 5 earrings (that’s the most piercings we’ve seen). As for tattoos, the only one we’ve seen has been on the cook/owner/waitress from Non in Meguro, Toyko.

The weather is really warming up – sunny t-shirt temperature now. I baked apricot and coconut cookies and double choc chip cookies today – some with IKEA raspberry jam centres. Yum! Dinner was potato and chickpea curry with zensai for dessert. Zensai is a recently discovered dessert – adzuki bean soup with mochi (sticky rice).

yum! Apricot and Coconut Cookies and Double Choc Chip Cookies made to celebrate Golden Week holidays.

yum! Apricot and Coconut Cookies and Double Choc Chip Cookies made to celebrate Golden Week holidays.

We discovered the ‘dim light’ setting on our lights. Click on, off, on, off and on again and instead of coming on bright, the light comes on a dim yellow. Strange, and a bit of a serendipitous discovery.





Tokyo Shopping Adventures

26 04 2009

Today was a big day. First we rode our bikes to Kisarazu station by 9:15 to catch two trains to Minami-Funabashi, where we visited Ikea. We ordered a couch, dining table and chairs, and a rug for Benno’s desk. Also picked up some essentials like a plastic divider for our cutlery drawer, and of course some Swedish (vegan) biscuits and jam.

Next, we headed into Tokyo again and had lunch at Loving Hut in Yotsuya. On Sundays they have a Yum Cha type lunch. We feasted on many dishes including noodles, steamed buns, rice triangles, sugary donuts with bean filling, tofu and mushroom soup, cold rolls, potato slivers, sweet jelly and tea for a bargain set price of 1000 yen.They also have a small range of items for sale, so we picked up some vegan mayonnaise, instant noodles, and a vegan pocketbook with vegan-friendly restaurant listings in various parts of Japan.

Then we headed to Akihabara, famous for its electric town where basically all the shops sell some type of electronics. We picked up a wireless router, some computer speakers, and a shaver for Benno.

Back on the train to Meguro, where we visited Non, a tiny but delicious Vegan Izakaya (food-serving sake bar), believed to be the only one in Japan. We had another delicious vegan Japanese meal with satay tofu, raw avocado rolls, gyoza, brown rice with homemade tofu, iced oolong and tofu tiramasu. We ate sitting at low tables on traditional tatami mats (which means you have to take your shoes off and kneel to eat)

Train back to Tokyo, bus to Kizarazu station, bike home by 11pm. Zzz! Time for bed because Lara starts Mondays with the first lesson at 7.30am!





Who needs language skills?

24 04 2009

Week three highlights:

The weeks are flying by. Soon enough we’ll be on Golden Week holidays and that’s almost the first school term gone…

Monday: I got paid on Monday- pay day is always a good day! Especially when you have a Disney bank account?!?

Tuesday: So, with yen in hand we went out to buy some more furniture. We went out riding in the rain to 2nd Street after work. We have a TV, TV cabinet and washing machine waiting to be delivered after Golden Week. The TV should help Benno acquire more language since he doesn’t leave the house much.That might change now that we have signed up on the Tokyo Vegan meetups group that have regular dinners out.

Wednesday: Benno was busy at home when I came home early from school at 4pm. So, I rode my bike to Nitori (a furniture store) on my own to buy some furniture for Benno. I went in, and with a combination of no, yes, here, thank you, and, where? spoken in Japanese (i.e. not very much at all) I was able to select, order, arrange delivery and pay for a desk and chair for Benno. Awesome!

Friday: The desk and chair were delivered. Benno’s office is complete!