My first blog, titled Bright Green Gaijin Pants, was a chronicle of my time as an exchange student in Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan. I’ve decided to repost its contents on this blog. For a full list of all these posts, click Bright Green Gaijin Pants on the menu, above.
The first blog post of any real worth that I published from Japan was far larger than it had any right to be. It was actually several posts combined and posted at the same time because I didn’t have internet access when I first got to Japan. I will be reposting them separately, as they were meant to be.
Yay, I Have Stuff Now!
Originally posted on October 16, 2005.
So after that, Nei-san drove us back to my apartment. We pulled up to unload my loot and discovered that a guy had shown up to turn on the gas. We took all but the futon upstairs and let the guy in to do that. There was a lot (and I mean a lot) of dust inside the heater until it was turned on. :P After the gas guy and the girls showed me how to work the stove, heater, and water heater (You have to open and close the valves to each before using it, and the water heater works so fast that you don’t have to turn the power on until you want to use it), the gas guy left and we brought the futon upstairs. At this point, Utsuki-san and Nei-san took their leave to allow me to rest/set up the place, with my thanks for their help. ^^
This is the first time since I got to Kushiro that I had taken any pictures. I could have gotten pictures of the stores, but didn’t really want to while I was doing heavy shopping. So here’s my apartment, empty.
I put the curtains up before taking the pictures. As you can see, I accidentally put the one set up backwards in my desperation to get the sun out of my house and away from my migraine. The heater in the corner is gas powered and came with a Doraemon sticker on it. Seen in the kitchen is the shlack, the water heater (which also heats the water to your exactly specified celsius temperature — boilers seem so stupid now), my little gas range (no oven, but a place to broil fish), cabinets, and a sink.
The bathroom has a shower and a bath, in good old-fashioned Japanese style. Well, not old-fashioned; the Japanese have really gotten to prefer the removable shower head over the bucket for rinsing off. I forgot to buy a stool to sit on when cleaning — traditional Japanese bathing involves washing your self meticulously, then rinsing off and soaking for a while in hot water. It feels quite nice, actually. But the bathroom door is very skinny, and interesting to get through.
Toilet gets its own room. You can’t see it in this picture, but it’s one of the toilets with a big and small flush.
A place to put a washing machine. Yay! I need one of those.
I’ll try putting my futon over here.
And the entryway, concrete ending where the floor begins. No shoes inside the house! Hooray for living in a culture that echoes what you were raised doing.
This looks like an ordinary light, but I assure you that it’s actually special. It has three “on” settings — both fluorescent bulbs on, one florescent bulb on, and one weak yellow light on. There are two of these in the apartment, one of which is also connected to a power switch near the laundry machine spot.
So there’s my apartment. Let’s evaluate the day’s loot, shall we?
Not bad for 22,150 yen. And zoom in a bit…
Featured here are a plate, a cup, a bowl, three random instant noodle packages, one random package of bread, a bread chosen after asking Utsuki-san what she likes, bananas, Nabisco saltine crackers (“America’s long seller cracker” according to the box), a random yet tasty-looking rice dish with shrimp and wasabi, some cucumber rolls (I’ve already eaten two; I was hungry), a bread knife, a straight-edged cooking knife, and a cutting board.
Cucumber Rolls: 5
Just like American ones, if you buy them at a place that does decent sushi in America.
Skillet with lid, sieve, tea kettle, saucepan, spatula, ladle, spoon with holes, whisk, 1-cup measuring cup (the only non-metric measure I found, and the only one I need).
Towel, various cleaning sponges, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toilet paper, laundry detergent, lemon dish washing liquid.
Futon set, covers for the futon pieces, an alarm clock almost identical to the one that won’t get here for two days because it’s with my baggage, and a power strip that will let me plug my laptop into the wall.
Ultimate riches, yes?
Time to put them away. Yarr!
I should probably put some of these in the cupboards, especially since I am likely to be hanging clothes on the rack to dry from here on out, but for now, this will do. Time to put my futon together.
Japanese-style futons aren’t quite like American futons, and not just because American futons come with racks that make them function just fine as couches. The futon was originally designed to be modular — you pick it up when you get up in the morning and you can air it out or fold it up and put it away. So a futon has three parts plus covers for them (sheets, essentially, only they zip up around the whole thing). The shikibuton is the bottom part, on which you sleep. The kakebuton is the part that goes over you. It’s like a really thick comforter. Then there’s the makura, which is a pillow.
Let’s do this.
Success! The shikibuton fits the alcove exactly. Time to put on its cover.
The futon has now been covered up. O Snap! The reason the cover seemed way too big is that it was actually for the kakebuton. Let’s try that again.
Much better. Now, the kakebuton…
Almost there. Makura! I don’t know what they put inside this pillow, but it rattles on one side. Very interesting.
Victory is mine! … Wait… something is missing. Oh, I know what it is!