Friday, August 9, 2013

new life

Last night was my first night in my new house. I have basically no furniture yet—only the standard fittings in the kitchen so far, plus a washing machine and a bed. And by bed, I mean a futon mattress. In case you don't know what a futon is (if you're American, you probably don't), it isn't a couch that folds down into a bed. No, a futon has no frame whatsoever. It is simply a pad that you lay on the floor and sleep on. It sounds very uncomfortable, but there's another piece of the equation that the average American (i.e. me 6 days ago) isn't aware of.

My bedroom has something called , which are intricately constructed floor coverings made from straw or bamboo. They are quite pleasant to walk on, but they are somewhat fragile. If you have 畳 in your house, you usually have to pay a monthly fee to maintain them, and when a new person moves in, it is usually a custom to have them replaced completely, which can be costly. From what I understand, it costs ¥2,000 ($20) per month for maintenance, so I can only imagine how much it is to replace them.

I slept very well; with the window open, I could hear water running through the labyrinth of gutters to the nearby river, which made for wonderful white noise. Actually, the word "gutter" really does a disservice to the water that's passing through them. It looks clean enough to drink! Perhaps it's more appropriate to call them "channels."

Unfortunately, I discovered the other bedroom has all of the hook-ups upon further inspection this morning: cable, phone, and a small cylindrical opening for the portable "air conditioner" I inherited from my Chief of English Teachers, Matsui-san. Since I woke up around 5:30am, I had ample time to move all my belongings across the divide before I came to school.

It's hard to believe a whole week has just about gone by. Tokyo Orientation seems painfully long in hindsight. Probably because there were about 900 of us all in the same hotel, simultaneously fighting a losing battle with our biological clocks. It's difficult enough when you spend most of your day indoors, ignorant of the natural signals telling you what time of day it is. More so when you are constantly introducing yourself to new people and doing everything in your power to keep your eyes open during the marathon of presentations flashing before you.

Thankfully, that test of will is over. Now the real journey begins. Learning Japanese, integrating into the school and the community, teaching English...wait, there's another orientation in 5 days? And I have 5 vacation days to use before the end of August? *sigh*

Well, hopefully life will settle down come September.

1 comment:

bill said...

Thanks for the posts. They keep me company when I can't find you on Skype. These boxes with stuff in them that replace Japanese characters are annoying. I take it 兵庫 means Hyogo. I wonder what I need to do to see those as the real thing? I figure imitation is the greatest form of flattery so I ordered a cheap 11" ACER touch screen and I am going to try to run Linux on it. We'll see how that pans out. Love you David. :)-D