Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu

The other, less prolific half here. Sorry, no adorable pictures this time. Just cold, cold, print.

Today was a bit of a milestone for me, in that I had to introduce myself to a room full of co-workers. In Japanese.

For those keeping score, it might seem odd that I’m just getting around to introducing myself to most of my co-workers. And you would be correct. For 2+ months, I have been floating around the office as, “that new guy who doesn’t look like any of us and doesn’t speak our language and what exactly is he doing here, well at least he doesn’t drink all the coffee,” (my words, I think).

My Japanese is not good. I’m not being humble. Sure, if you meet me, and you don’t speak Japanese, you might be wowed – or discomfited – by the swiftness with which I can order a draft beer. But that’s about it. Otherwise it’s a whole lot of mumbling and bumbling.

So here’s what I wanted to say, followed by what I was capable of saying:

Hi, I am Dan./Hi, I am Dan.

Pleased to meet you/Pleased to meet you.

Please excuse my accent. I’m sorry I can’t speak better Japanese./ I’m sorry. I cannot speak Japanese.

Unlike a lot of people my age, I’ve managed to stay in the same city for a number of years. It was about that time that I either made roots, or picked up and tried a new town, you know? I chose the latter, so here I am! You’ve been wonderful hosts so far. I’m so happy to be here./ I am from Washington, DC.

I work for —–. But beyond that, I really look forward to meeting all of you. You all seem like interesting people, and you obviously get along very well. Seriously, stop by my desk. We’ll go out and get a drink./I work for —–

Please treat me well./Please treat me well.

Oh by the way, how do I use all of the buttons on the toilet?/…..

Home Sweet Home

Here it is, the long-anticipated apartment tour!  OK, maybe only long-anticipated by my mother, but nonetheless, it’s finally here for the taking.  And talk about a blank slate!

It may not look like much, but I’m pretty happy with our 39 square meters (for you kids in the USA, that’s about 420 square feet).  Come on in, let me show you around!

Tokyo apartment entry

As you come in the front door, you’ll notice the little Japanese-style entry way.  The recessed floor here is called a genkan (げんかん).   Shoes off, please!  We’re digging the slipper-clad lifestyle in these parts.  You’ll also notice all the closet space:

apartment entry closet

Some of this space is used to stash shoes and umbrellas, removed while in the genkan.  Since this is most of the storage space for the apartment, I’ll be using this area as a linen closet as well.  While standing in the entry, let’s do a 180-degree turn to find ourselves peering into the bathroom:

apartment bathroom

This bathroom feels gigantic.  It is both Japanese and Western styled; I like to think it is the best of both worlds.

apartment bathroom details

The cabinets and walls are pretty plain, but a nice sink and Japanese super toilet share the space.

apartment bathroom super toilet

Yup, there’s our auto flush toilet.  You can see it also has a computer console — maybe someday we’ll be brave enough to figure out what all those buttons do.

apartment bathroom shower room

Past the sink and toilet is the Japanese-style shower room.  I love the shower room.  In a Japanese home, it is customary to soap up and rinse off before you get in your tub of hot water, so the entire room is waterproof.  For me, it is more like a giant, heated shower.  You can also hang clothes to dry and run a heater, auto fill the tub (a nice little voice tells you what is happening, though I can’t yet understand her), and spray down the whole room for cleaning.  Brilliant, right?  I don’t plan on taking too many baths and am a little sad that the tub is taking up valuable square meters better served by a sofa (ok, maybe not in that exact location), but overall I can’t complain about the shower room.  Like it, like it, love love love!

apartment hall

After you step out of the entry, you get a brief view of the rest of the apartment.  To the left, the bedroom, to the right, the living room.

apartment bedroom

Attached to the bedroom there is a little balcony.  Many people in Tokyo hang their clothes and bedding out to air on nice days.  This balcony is a little on the small side, so it might be better served by some potted herbs.

apartment bedroom closets

A reverse view of the bedroom reveals the closets.  Take a look at those beauties!  We won’t yet talk about who gets the big one…

apartment living room

Now we head back into the living room.  I love the built-in bookshelves.  Also, you can almost make out our view through the window.  Not quite as awesome as our last place on the 11th floor, but not too shabby either.  At night, we can still see Tokyo Tower in all its gaudy glory.

apartment kitchen

A reverse view of this room give us a glimpse of the kitchen (you can also see the door that separates the entry from the rest of the apartment).

apartment kitchen close up

Perhaps a little boring, but nothing I can’t fix with some home-stitched linens.  And now, a view of my one disappointment…

apartment kitchen range

Look at that tiny little range!  Two burners, and no oven.  Not even a fish broiler.  There go my dreams of opening a sidewalk pie stand.  Sorry, Tokyo, your loss.

apartment kitchen refrigertor

A peek at my other kitchen challenge — in Japan, an “unfurnished” apartment really means unfurnished, no appliances included.  In this photo you can see the cubbyhole where our fridge will go, someday.

So there you go — our new tiny home in the biggest city in the world.  And really, right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Just think of the time I’ll save cleaning…