I am back, after an intense and amazing 18 days of charades and pictionary. It is amazing how talented one becomes at these games when forced. Long story short, I need to learn me some Japanese.
A great deal has happened since I last wrote. I am going to upload a bunch of pictures so that you all can see what I see.
So, I have officially moved into my new place in Kokubunji. I love it. LOVE IT. Why do I love it? Well, it is located 5 minutes from Kokubunji station, which is part of the Chuo Line (a line that goes directly into the heart of Tokyo). On the way to my place, you pass a McDonald's, KFC, Starbucks, and 99 Cents Store. Need I say more? In addition, the room is quite spacious by Japanese standards and is classified as "designer." Heehee...this just means that there are really cool ceiling lights and the doors/cabinets are painted red. My kinda pad.
The place is now fully furnished, thanks to Bic Camera and the random Japanese guy who spent 2 hours with me to "make sure everything was daijobu (okay)." They are sweethearts here! I have been spending more money than the Bush administration. Well, not really, but I am doing WAY better than Lehman right now.
Anyways, Bic Camera is one of the main discount stores in Tokyo. They sell just about everything, including the kitchen sink, at this place. The best part is that they deliver all appliances *directly* into your home, even going so far as to plug it in and test it out. That is what I am talking about. Cause lord knows that I would have a heck of a time trying to do that on my own. I am not even sure how to use my new rice cooker, because all of the buttons are in Kanji. Something tells me that it shouldn't take 2 hours to cook rice. Hmmmm.
Yes, EVERYTHING is written in Kanji. Rightfully so. All instruction manuals, all appliances...even my toilet has Kanji writing on it. Yes, and that brings up a great point. I have a Japanese toilet. These bad boys are incredible. This is truly a toilet meant for Inspector Gadget, even including a butt warmer. Moreover, I took the liberty of testing out all the buttons on the side of the toilet. I wouldn't recommend this for everyone, but let's just say that I wasn't expecting to get a shower while I use the toilet. Fortunately, there are no pictures of this incident and I will spare you the blow-by-blow details.
So, I have officially moved EVERYTHING out of Ai's place in Wakabayashi. Below is a picture of my "room" in Ai's house. Safe to say I sabotaged the place.
My place is approximately 1.5 hours away from Ai's via the subway. It was quite an experience lugging two 75 pound suitcases from her place to mine. Good thing I did this over the span of a coupla days, or else bad things coulda happened. Well, actually, bad things DID happen. I ended up going to the hospital last week due to my ridiculousness. I tried to carry a 75 pound suitcase by myself during rush hour (this, my friends, is a no-no), and ended up ripping off my big toenail in the process. Ha! I didn't even feel the pain, really. I did, however, feel something wet on my foot, but we were all so packed isho ni (together) that I couldn't even look down to see what was going on. Once I could, all I saw was red, and it wasn't my toe nail polish folks. So, I went to lab and showed them my toe. More than anything, I thought it was funny. The pain was not a big deal at all. Yeah...well they didn't take it so well and freaked out! They take such good care of me at this lab....it is un-beri-bable. They would not let me work until they took me to the hospital. Hahaha...so we went to the local hospital. What an experience.
There I was, sitting there with a broken toe nail, while people were being wheeled in on stretchers attached to an IV. Boy did I feel lame. I almost wanted someone to break my toe, at that point. Everyone was staring, probably thinking, "Oh man, not another foreigner." I ended up getting an x-ray and the most thorough foot exam of my life. In the end, they sent me home with a bandaid. Right.
Also, over the weekend, I did a whole slew of things. I went to Roppongi. Enough said about that. I will add that I got home (well, to Ai's house) at 7am the next day and looked like a drowned rat due to the sweat from a night of dancing. Oh, and we ate sushi at the same place where they filmed the crazy fight scene in "Kill Bill." You know, the one where Uma Thurman kills like 400 people by herself and blood is shooting all over hell and half of Georgia?
Also, I went to Ai's fashion show, where she modeled a lovely dress just for fun (pictures of course). I met with some friends in Shibuya (Spencer and Natsuko) and we all mozied on over to the show together. Here is a picture of where many people meet in Shibuya. The spot is called "Hachiko," which is the name of an akita who demonstrated extreme loyalty to his owner. Apparently his owner passed away suddenly, leaving poor Hachiko all alone. So, Hachiko traveled to the same spot everyday for 30 years...waiting for an owner that would never come; this spot was where he had usually gone to wait for his owner when he was alive. The statue you see is of Hachiko. Below it is Shibuya.
The talent show was truly a sight to see! This did remind me of Sex and the City....Japanese women are keire (beautiful). I had a good time! A few pictures and video of Ai shaking her thing are below....
I must say that this transition would not have been possible without the help, concern, and sheer determination of my labmates. They are so fantastic, I can't even begin to express how lucky I am to be a part of this group. So many members took entire days off to help me: find a place, buy appliances, obtain bank accounts, grocery shop, try to get a cell phone (emphasis on the try part), and just about everything else that goes into moving across the world smoothly. If any of them are reading this, THANK YOU. Especially you, Iijima-san! Arigato ;) Pics of my pad are below....oh, and I bought plants ;)
I will save my opinions about the sexual melting pot that is Tokyo for some other time. Let's just say that if you are a foreigner, you will be very happy here. Gross. I have definitely experienced a fair amount of drama during my stay thus far.....I can't claim it as my own, but let's just say it has been interesting.
Another interesting thing has been the whole trash situation. The Japanese have to be the most organized trash taker-outers in the world. Really. Here is a picture of my trash "schedule." You probably can't read it, but you really wouldn't want to. Let's just say that every night I plan on digging through my trash to sort it all out into combustible, non-combustible, recyclable, plastics, you name it. This is pay back for everything I've ever done wrong in my life. At least it's good for the environment, right?
Now that everything is set up, it is time to get cracking in the lab! More on that, of course, as the story unfolds. In the meantime, I have been working around the clock on transitioning to Japan, moving all my stuff, kicking butt with the organizations I am still actively involved in (AMWA and Engeye), and trying to keep you all posted. Bless my little blog's heart.
I will leave you with some of the latest pictures from the Engeye Clinic in Africa. Everybody loves shoes!