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October 29, 2006

I have moved!

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I am in the new place now. I underestimated how much of a change it would be after six years at the other place, but it is really nice and I am happy to be there.

I say "there" because I do not have broadband yet and it could be a while before that is taken care of. It is 9am on Sunday morning and I am at the Segafredo Cafe in Hiroo, sneaking on to someone's wi-fi connection to access the Internet. I went to Bic Camera yesterday and the guy there said it could take one month to get online, depending on which provider I used. I still do not know what I will do about that.

Anyway, the new pad is amazing. It is super big and bright and a nice breeze blows through when you open the windows. It is also deep into a residential neighbourhood and one side faces a temple and an embassy, so there are lots of trees and hardly any "city" noise at all. Lots of birds, however.

From one side, Hiroo is a ten minute walk and Azabu Juban is about 15 minutes in the other direction. I like both neighbourhoods, so I am really happy about that.

I have spent the last three days on moving, so today is the day I get back into my real life, which means spending a lot of time catching up on the Japanese homework I have been skipping. Woo hoo! If I am feeling ambitious, I will load some pics of the move onto the laptop to upload next time I am down here...

Posted by Kirk at 08:55 AM | Comments (1)

October 24, 2006

Almost to the other side

I have been very busy the last few months, mostly trying to find a new place to live. I am not going to get into the difficulties of doing that in Japan...maybe after I have moved and settled in. I didn't comment on it while it was going on, so no reason to start now!

Anyway, I am moving to a new place on Thursday after six years living where I am now. Suprisingly,oing on, so no reason to start now!

Anyway, I am moving to a new place on Thursday after six years living where I am now. Suprisingly, that is the longest period I have ever spent in one place except for the house I grew up in (nine years) and that was a very long time ago.

So, I am really going to miss it here. Now that I am moving, I can tell you that I lived in Akasaka Tameike Tower in central Tokyo. It is (was) very convenient to everything and the front-desk staff here treated me so well, I do not know how I will live without them. Plus...six years! You can learn a lot about a neighbourhood when you spend that much time in it. I did not have a choice in the move, unfortunately, the landlord here only accepts corporate leases and I am unemployed.

By the way...I am staying in Tokyo. I really considering making a move to Hayama (see the previous one million entries), but I couldn't make it work. I am still feeling the pain, but it should be easy enough to keep going down by train and I have the agent down there on the lookout for any interesting places that come up for sale.

That is about it, really. I think I will be in a better position to update this once I have moved. There have been countless times since August when I sat here thinking of something to write and the frustration percolated and bubbled over, giving me writer's block, or tempting me to rant and rave about any number of ridiculous things. I opted for Spider Solitaire and a bit of TV instead.

On a more administrative note, I have to change ISPs, which means no home access or e-mail address for the next week or so (and, therefore no comments).

I will post some pics of the new place when I get up and running again - you will like it!

Posted by Kirk at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2006

Fuji-san from Hayama/Zushi

I woke up entirely TOO early on Sunday (6ish), especially as I had nothing to do. Sometime around 10am, with the sun shining and the sky looking brilliant, I headed down to the beach.

Thanks to the huge storm that blew through late last week taking all the pollution with it, the sky was incredibly clear. And that means Mt. Fuji is easy to see: this is what it looked like at sunset from Morito Beach in Hayama.

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When I got to Zushi, I walked over to the beach. There were lots of people out enjoying the weather, but not so much that it felt crowded. Very cool. Here are some more Fuji pics.

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My real destination was Hayama however, so I headed that way. I usually take a bus or taxi, but this I time I walked. It did not take as long as I thought it would. A real estate agent told me that you could bike from the south end of Hayama to Zushi Station in 30 minutes. That seems about right.

I spent a little time on the beach reading, but mostly I walked around town trying to get a better feel for things. You know, what the stores and restuarants are like and how far away places are from each other. Highlights include Morito Jinja, which is absolutely brilliant and I already know that is where I want to be at New Year's. It is right on the water, with a small waterfront park on one side and a beach on the other.

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I had coffee at Mells Cafe, right on the waterfront. One of the pictures below is taken from there. The other one was taken just after sunset at Morito Beach. It's lovely, right?

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The reason I want to get a feel for Hayama is that I am wondering whether I should move down there. I looked at a place near the beach a few weeks ago and really liked it. It is also less than half the cost of what I would pay in central Tokyo for an apartment.

Unfortunately, it is a two hour commute EACH WAY, making it supremely impractical for work/school. And I do not know anyone down there.

But it is the BEACH.

I have to decide tomorrow. I wonder what I will do...

Posted by Kirk at 10:10 PM | Comments (1)

October 07, 2006

Yamagata and Zao Onsen (山形・蔵王温泉)

Surprise! I am back after a month of not writing. I have been really lazy about it recently - mostly because I have been looking for an apartment and that has been boring AND tiring. Hopefully, that is finished.

Anyway, I went up to Yamagata and Zao Onsen this week. It was a very quick trip, just over 24 hours, mostly because the weather was awful. I had hoped to do a bit of hiking, but instead it rained like crazy and I ended up coming home early.

I stayed at Hotel Oak Hill in Zao Onsen, which I highly recommend. The staff is super friendly, the food is excellent (well, except for the steak fried in butter, which was not exactly the healthy food I was looking for!), and the baths were first rate.

This is the view from my room and also the room itself. Very nice.
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Like most places outside of Tokyo, people are very helpful if you stand around and look confused. Fortunately, I am really good at that. But, Zao Onsen was very, very quiet. It was kind of spooky. There were people at the bus terminal and at my hotel, but that was about it.

The hotel was very busy thanks to a busload of people going to see the leaves changing colours. Apparently, this is a very good time to go see that in the surrounding mountains, so I was looking forward to it. Here is what it looked like in town.

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Unfortunately, that is all I got to see because it started pouring rain over night and in the morning conditions were awful. Too wet to hike and too windy to take the cable car. The hotel staff recommended I check out Yama-dera (山寺) instead, which is closer to Yamagata. I considered it, but after 40 minutes on the bus back to Yamagata I opted to hop on the train back home instead.

I killed some time waiting for my train by walking over to the remains of Yamagata Castle. Kind of cool, but 45 minutes in a cold drizzle without an umbrella means I am sick as a dog today. Here are the pictures my suffering produced:

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I am glad I finally got to Zao, although I wish I could have spent some time on the mountain itself. The hotel was brilliant, which made up for it, but four hours each way makes it unlikely I will be going again soon (2h45m - Yamagata Shinkansen; 45m - bus to Zao).

Posted by Kirk at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)