All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Carving a Niche

Apartment living here, there, and everywhere

My friend Josh (or "Tasmanian Josh" as I usually call him when telling stories about him) just moved from his little apartment in Shiga to a littler one in Osaka. This is the first time he's been living on his own -- no family, no roomies, no nobody. The place was completely empty, so he had to go out and do a little shopping. For the first time in his life, he now owns an ironing board.

They grow up so fast, don't they?

My first apartment in Japan was sublet by my company, way out in the middle of nowhere. I was a forty-five minute walk from the train station, grocery store, pay phone, etc. and the rent was outrageous. But on the plus side, I had sliding glass doors that led to my tatami-floored bedroom where I slept on a futon on the floor. It was all very Japanesey. (See below, left.) After a brief spell there, I couldn't handle the commute or the rent anymore, so I moved into Yamashina, a suburb of Kyoto, and lived in a much older, much more genuinely Japanese home (below, right).

simple lifemy house

If there's any doubt in your heart as to which place was more traditionally Japanese, take a quick gander at the toilets and you'll figure it out...


In both these places, I had roommates. In the apartment, she was a very cranky Aussie -- actually the only cranky Aussie I know; most of them are absolute stars -- and I was glad to get away from her when I moved. The girls in the other house were more laid back, but we didn't ever become very close as I spent most of my free time with people from my office. These roommates also worked in Kyoto, whereas my friends and I worked in the more rural Shiga, so our social circles were a little different. Still, we co-existed peacefully enough and it was with great sadness that I left our little tile-roofed, tatami-floored domicile.

Once I had secured a job here at home, I needed to get out of my parents' house. I love my parents very deeply, but living seven thousand miles away from them and then moving back in was absolutely un-rock. I started apartment-hunting via the internets (mostly the big one). I'd been sitting in one coffee shop all summer filling out job applications and it actually made me sick to my stomach to go in there, so I changed locales to a little bookstore downtown. My friend Sisi, who is the most organized and systematic person I have ever known, came with me and made pro/con lists and did math involving rent rates, utilities, and other facets of my financial life.

Sisi was extremely helpful and after exploring several different options, we found a great little place. Highlights: it's well within my price range; as long as he behaves, I can keep my cat, Benedick, here; I'm allowed to paint the walls; and none of the neighbors seem to be crack addicts, or at least, they're very quiet crack addicts.

Ben chillaxin' in our new pad

I didn't go out and buy an ironing board (I stole an old one of my brother's instead -- he has a wife now; he doesn't iron), but nothing makes you feel all grown up quite as much as living alone.

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