ben griffiths
an insight into the mind of a genius

Posts Tagged ‘internet cafe’

Forgive me father, it has been a week since my last confession….

Sunday, September 4th, 2005

Ok this is most likely to be the most confusing entry written. When I started typing, it was Sat the 27th. Then I restarted on the Sunday the 28th. Now however it is Sunday the 4th of September. However to try and keep the flow going, I will just keep adding to the end.

You have been warned.

Oh, and a big “Konnichiwa!” to Uncle Jack, I am honoured you feel reading this is worth a trip to the library :D

“Well dear friends, welcome to installment 3 of the greatest journal in the world, typed today, Saturday the 27th August, through a very hazy vision, but more about that later.” - this was going to be the start of this entry, but due to me not finishing it and going out instead, I will instead write an even more hazy account on this fine evening, Sunday the 28th :) I therefore warn you, there might be quite a bit missing (along with quite a lot of my memory… eek!)

*** jesus - I’ve only edited one paragraph and already my vision is going blurred and flashing!!! at least i don’t have a headache though I suppose….. ***

Last time I wrote, I was just settlng down to a good nights sleep, of course once again broken by the building crew in the morning, though they now seem to have demolished the wall and started putting up the new one, which whilst still quite loud, is a lot better than a jackhammer going off …. (cutting the concrete blocks with an angle grinder though does still make you grit your teeth so as not to go mad and hurl yourself of the balcony).

So it was up at 12 or thereabouts, to get my stuff together to go to the local city hall to register. I had my little map, but it is litterly just across the park, so didn’t cause too much of a problem. At least, that was the plan, except Seiko had drawn the map wrongly, so I went off to some other government building. Luckily a kind chap knew where i was supposed to be going, so dropped me off right at the Alien Registration Desk :)
It was then just a case of heading up to the counter, getting some forms to fill in and handing them back. In return, I was given a certificate of “living there..” (I dont know how to word it better) and a nice big pack about Setagaya-ku (all in English, w00t!) - I also had to pick up some temporary certificates that I would need to take to the bank in order to open an account and possibly the Vodafone store.

To Mum + Dad: You will be pleased to hear that health insurance is compulsory here (despite me trying to argue I don’t need it), however it’s not too expensive (about £30 a month) and means you only have to pay 30% (or sometimes 10%) of all medical fees. Not sure how doctor prescriptions work (as far as colds and antibiotics etc) - however there is a mystical looking shop in central tokyo that claims it can cure anything, just using diffent plants and animal faeces…..

Oh this is so annoying, I am not even sure what day it is, so I’m not sure what I’ve already said… oh hang on, ahah!!! Yes!!! I remember. This might be Thursday I am writing about. Ok… good…

So I got back from the Registration Office quite late, but still wanted to go to my college to enrol, however not knowing where it was, I had to go back to Shibuya to a net cafe to look it up. Once again though, I got there too late (the school closes at 5) - and seeing as it was the start of the typhoon, the weather was awful and not really good for “walking for miles to find a school” in.

Seiko was at work and Shiho was out, so I now had nothing to do. The rain really was coming down now (at least I thought so at the time) - so I decided the only sensible thing to do would be to check into an internet cafe for 8 hours :) (£5) It also seemed like it would be a good idea to try and find some more people in Tokyo to meet up with, so I headed to my favourite penpal site to see who was on offer. Fired off a few emails to random people looking for a language exchange, then put up a new ad of my own (its like a “meet people” bulletin board).

I then set the mail client in the background and just got on with some randomness… about 10 minutes later, I already had 4 replies, including one girl called “Waka” who was on MSN at the time, so was able to chat live. She did tell me some really interesting things, however I can’t remember that far back, except that I am supposed to be meeting her on Tuesday… (however I also told her I would mail to confirm on Friday….. whoops….)

The rest of the time was just some internet randomness (including catching up with Gerald.. hey dude!) - before I left at about 11:30 or so to get the train home.

And here, I must confess a sin, one of which i am massively ashamed…. I was so hungry by now that i went to….. yes, i know…. McDonalds… :(
Ok let’s jump subject here (we’ll come back to me leaving the cafe in a mo..)

Japanese Food - A type of food invented by someone who really hated the Japanese locals. Consists of making all food contain fish, or if they spare you of that, soy. Resulting in it smelling terrible. Then, just to take the p1ss even more, the time they do let you have something that tastes ok (such as western food) - they shrink it to about a quarter of it’s original size….

The food is actually really becoming a serious problem, I really can’t stand the smell of it (which is aparently the soy) - which makes just trying it very hard. I am therefore surviving on hot dogs and burritos from the local convenience store… Shiho and Seiko are worried I will just waste away, and I am inclined to agree with them. Whilst you can get more “western type” frozen foods (chicken nuggets and the like) - we have no oven, nor microwave so none of it can be cooked….. I do need to sort out something soon though (even if it involves removing my nose and tastebuds….)


Anyway, back to the net cafe. So I had thought the weather was bad earlier, well now the typhoon was pretty much over tokyo, and was quite a bit worse. Luckily I had brought my umbrella, so I was able to keep it off my head, but the force of the wind meant it blew under the rim and got my top body all wet… yuk! :)
I got back just before the girls and we sat around for a bit until Seiko decided she needed to get some eye wash, so we set out in the rain to the 7 11 across the park. The journey there was ok, with a few dodgy moments involving almost overbalancing and falling into puddles, but we got there safely enough.

The journey back we (well, Seiko) wasn’t really quite so fortunate as a freak gust took her umbrella and ripped the top off, which then went sailing down the street. The more chivelrous (sp) side of me thought I should offer mine, however it was cold, so I just pointed and laughed… haha…

By now, the park had become pretty submerged, with water about 3 inches deep and most places and only a few routes to get around it all, most of these being very low (like 5 inches max) and thin (4 inches) walls across which we had to balance. All was good until about half way, when yet again the wind blew (strong wind in a tornado, who would have thought it!) taking Seiko off the wall and into the now mini lake…. hahahahaha…

Back home after drying off, we spend the next 3 hours or so doing english language / pronounciation practise. (Seiko has a book of about 1,800 word she needs to learn, so I just kept opening it at random pages and testing her and Shiho on them….) - and then proceeding to confuse them with - console (as in “dont worry”) & console (ps2) and polish and Polish…. :)
So bed time was morning time, with Seiko having to get up again to go to work in 3 hours… lol…

Cool, we are now up to friday, which is a bit fresher in my mind.

Did I post the internet and phone will be installed on Wednesday? Well if not, the internet and phone will be installed on Wednesday :) I was up for the budget pack, but they went and ordered the 100Meg line instead… I suppose I can’t complain, its a 3 way bill split so wont be too bad…


So Friday morning, my tasks were simple. Go to Vodafone shop to get mobile, then with the number, I would be able to get a bank account at the Shinsei bank, before going to the language school to enrol. Simple..

The first problem occured when I got to the Vodafone store at 4 pm… hehe… I took a ticket and awaited my turn. 30 minutes later, I was finally called…

This was the Vodafone Shibuya store with the English support (which of course was the reason I had come here in the first place) so I had my list of questions ready. The woman who served me was extrememly friendly and was able to speak really good english and laugh at my jokes… (or maybe she was laughing at me..? ;))

All I wanted, was to be able to email back to the UK for free and also be able to send and receive SMS if i needed to. I already knew the phone I wanted, so I thought all would be simple. However at the Vodafone store, you had to pay 12,000yen for the actual phone. I said it was only 1 yen down the road, to which she explained I had to sign up for a 2 year contract, and if I broke this I would need to pay 10,000 yen (now here is where the problem occured, I mis calculated and made this to be £500…. not the £50 it is).

I didn’t want to do this obviously as I would only have the phone for 15 months. Again, another problem. Japanese phone contracts arent like UK ones. In Japan you have to sign for a year at a time, you cannot just use a year then keep on going without signing… To break after 15 months, I would be signed up to my second year of contract, so would have to pay 4000 yen (£20) - ok… I guess it’s not too bad.

You know, there is a load more story to this (I was in the store with her for two hours) - but I really dont want to write it all now… sorry!! Suffice to say, I signed up to a one year contract (£20 a month, with £10 of free calls/data transfer and free emails), paid 12,000 yen for the phone, 2500 joining fee (I KNOW, I HAD TO PAY TO JOIN!!!! WTF!!!)

I couldn’t have the phone straight away as it takes an hour to activate, so I went off again to the internet cafe to check my mail. To my suprise, I now had another 12 replies to my ad from various people wanting to meet up. I still haven’t replied to any yet (no time) - but i dont think i will be short of possible friends here :)
Anyway, back to the Vodafone store and my phone was ready and already charged (I made sure by asking…) - I now had 30 minutes to get back home, drop off the box and stuff, change into a shirt (the club we were going was dress code) and get back to Shibuya to meet Shiho and Seiko for 8 to go eat.

Of course, it was never going to happen, so I felt a bit guilty when I finally got back at 8:45… :o

I was starving now and had found a guide to Shibuya which listed a local Outback!! (for anyone who doesn’t know what Outback is, it’s an Australian steak house which sells really nice food, we have them in the UK - there’s one at Wandsworth - you know Dad, we went there for Tom’s birthday)

So, we’re inside and I’m looking at the menu… hmmm… nice big steak I think. Now the sizes are all metric here, so I am unsure of the weight, but going by the price of the large one, I assume it should be pretty good. The obligatory Blooming Onion arrives first, which is comparable in size with it’s UK counterpart…. things are looking good.

When the steak arrives about 15 minutes later, I am sure that a mistake has been made. Yes there is a rump steak infront of me, however I think it must have come off the rump of a new born baby micro-cow (the type you get in christmas crackers…. =)) ….it did taste nice, I’ll give it that, but really…. I can only imagine what the small one might have been like.

Seiko had also found out the club was playing hip hop, so even though it had a swimming pool, this was not alluring enough to make me want to go, so we decided to go Roppongi instead (I know, I know, yuk yuk yuk…) - first stop though, the bookstore to go and meet a friend of Seikos friend!!? A frenchman by the name of Arnaud (I think) - who luckily spoke English and who is actually a great guy (which is quite suprising since he’s french … ;) :P)

A special mention should now be made to the phone I had just bought, which of course had now ran out of battery… thanks very much…. grrr…. However apart from that, it’s an amazing phone and I love it to pieces. Finally I have a black flip, which can record pretty good quality movies and photos and send them as email for free!!! Haha! So now you lot can expect random videos and odd times of the day. The web address above was wrong by the way, its: (not

So to Roppongi (minus Shiho who had work the next day, so had gone home), first stop the “One Stop Bar” where Seiko’s friend worked and could offer 500 yen drinks. That’s pretty much all it could offer, the place was empty (probably as the music was rubbish) and pretty small… so after 2 drinks, we made our excuses and left (after meeting up with another of Seiko’s friends; Yuka).

We wandered around for a bit, before finding ourselves outside the “Hideout” - now I had been here last year, and remembered the dodgy drinks prices. The guy outside was trying to get us to go in with the offer of 500 yen drinks. I pointed out he promised this last year, but once we were inside suddenly the prices went up, so to prove he wasn’t lying, could I have a load of the 500 yen vouchers. He said he couldn’t do that, but if I wanted to come back upstairs to get a new voucher each time, this would be no problem.

Ok, that seemed fair… so we went inside.

Inside was a mix of foreigners and locals, with the locals maybe slightly outnumbering us gaijin, however everyone was in a good mood and the music was starting to get quite trancy so all seemed it would be good.

Arnaud was really getting into the musical spirit of things, pulling off very impressive (or strange, depending on how you want to see it) moves, which attracted the attention of a group of japanese guys who came over and started to clap :) This crew then became our new clubbing buddies, which was pretty cool… The main guy, whose name was Hipai, was really having a good time and was pretty smashed. He then proceeded to live up to his name, buy paying for a round for anyone who was within the vacinity, including two girls (Chizue and Mam… - doh, I forgot) who then came and joined out party group :) (We were quite blatted by now, and drinks had miraculously gone up to 1000yen…. the same as last year, so i don’t want to think about how much money Shipai was forking out….) - cue loads more crazy drunken dancing…

At about 3am, Seiko and Yuka left to go to a different bar (we arranged to meet at 5am at the station), leaving me and Arnaud to carry on (along with a new recruit, an extremely drunk j-girl who took a liking to anyone who would look at her… including trying to get off with Chizue… haha) - I managed to keep clear, though Shipai wasn’t so lucky (or maybe he was, depending on how you want to look at it….)

Come 4am and I was quite tired, but with an hour to go we had no choice by to stay in Roppongi. I just wanted to get a coffee to try and wake me up a bit, but not being on offer in the club, we decided to leave to find a Starbucks or something. The two girls also weren’t feeling the vibe so much and also left to come with us.

We sat in a local coffee shop (Starbucks closed at 4:30) until 5 when we left the girls to go to the station to meet up with Seiko… who of course wasn’t there… After 20 minutes, it finally occured to me we could use Arnaud’s phone (doh!) to call and see where she was.

We didn’t get through straight away, but after a few attempts Seiko finally picked up. Follow some very drunk sounding Japanese, along with a transfer to an even more Japanese sounding guy who then hung up on us. Getting a bit worried now, we called back, to only have Seiko again trying to explain something, but which neither me nor Arnaud could understand… Although we were still worried, we realised there was nothing we could do, but as we knew she was still with her friend, we decided to finally head back home.

Due to the time, the trains weren’t quite as frequent, however they weren’t too bad and I managed to get home by about 6:30 or so where I had a quick browse of the Vodafone catalogue before heading to sleep, when I noticed something I hadn’t seen before….

(Let’s recap, my contract = yearly, with a £20 break out clause I need to use in month 15. I then had to pay £60 for the phone in the first place.)

The “Happy Bonus” tarrif which I thought had a £500 breakout, only had a £50 break out. Why is this significant, well…

Phone cost if taking out Happy Bonus = 1 yen (0.5p)
Monthly line charge (- 5% bonus)
Month 13 and 14 - Free (Saving about £40)

So the phone saving cancels out the breakout penalty, followed by me getting 2 months free and a 5% reduction. Whereas I just had to pay for the phone AND now pay the breakout penalty… grrrr… I wish I was angry, but the woman was so nice I dont want to go back and complain incase she gets in trouble or something…????

Saturday 27th August

Woke up feeling absolutely awful and with no memory of the night before at all!!! (Luckily it’s all come back now, but it was incredibly amusing at first :)) - and deciding I definately didn’t want to go clubbing this night (supposed to be meeting George to go to Womb).

However, staying at home seemed pointless, so at about 7pm we went out to find some food. My stomach wasn’t feeling so good, so it seemed Subway was a safe bet for a plain sandwich. Subway roast chicken is nowhere as nice as it’s UK counterpart, but they made a good effort. The only bad point to the meal was the cockroach stuck on his back near our table, but after switching seats so I couldn’t see him, everything was a lot better. It also says a lot to the quality of the sandwich that I didn’t feel sick after we left, and had suddenly picked up a craving for some vodka…..

George still wasn’t ready, so to pass the time between then and him arriving, we went to the local 50yen arcade (though all the games I played were 200 yen..???!) until he called and told us to meet him outside Starbucks, after which we proceeded up the hill to one of his friends leaving parties.

Just getting in the lift should have set alarm bells ringing that this place would be expensive (it was a complete glass front that was on the side of the building, so you saw out over the whole of Tokyo as you went up to the 15th floor) - but getting inside it was amazing. The whole wall was glass, and being so high up meant you could just see for miles. Only having 2000 yen on me (£10) meant whenever the bartender came over I had to pretend to be on the phone and so after 15 minutes or so, we decided to go and head over to Shimokitazawa.

Now Shimokitazawa is billed as Tokyo’s Camden and after going there in the day, the night promised a lot. Except when we got there, the place was dead with the only visible thing to do being Karaoke. I wouldn’t have had a problem with this, but Arnaud only having a week left here wanted to party, so decided he would pay for a cab back to Roppongi (oh joy!)

We stopped one in the street and pilled in instructed the good man to drive to Roppongi - and off we went. The speed we went at seemed a bit erratic, but we put this down to Japanese drivers. It was only when we were still stopped at a green light, did we pay attention to our driver, who had fallen asleep! Seiko kicked his chair to wake him up, so we continued…. for the rest of the journey, every few minutes, the guy would then fall back to sleep!!! We should have probably been really scared, but we couldn’t stop laughing and even managed to get a photo… we did get there in the end, and we secretly hoping he would fall asleep before he took the money - no such luck :)
Before we went into a club, it was a quick stop off at a convenience store to buy some very cheap alcohol to drink in the street first (thus saving us valuable cash!) - the pikey within me decided to go for the cheapest strongest (some fowl lemon drink) - which predictably meant after about 5 minutes, I was saying “Konbanwa” to anyone who walked past and trying to strike up a conversation with a friendly Japanese guy, who I had to apologise to “Sumimasen!” as I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying… “Wakaranii!”

Finally, 3 cans later we were ready to find a (different) club - Seiko suggested “Muse” as Arnaud wanted to meet some JGirls and apparently that was the place for foreigners to meet them… so we went, 2000 yen to get in £10 (but 2 free drinks) - but it did seem to be playing some decent music. Much to Arnaud’s dismay however, the place was just full of guys (at least 3 to every girl) - however the real reason we were here soon became aparant after realising Seiko was missing and after a long search, finding her in the chillout room with some guy called Matt… ;)
Arnaud was now pretty fed up and wanted to go, but after pointing out this would be unfair to Seiko, he agreed to stay. His luck was in though, as after about 20 minutes, we saw Seiko on the way out. I ran after her to see what the ku was, to have the guy give me his phone number and tell me to call it if i got lost?!?! I was like “eh?” - to which he said “if you need to get to Seiko’s house, just call me” - i told him i lived with her, so knew pretty well where I lived - to which he replied, “well thats strange she said that then…” - i know, that really doesn’t make much sense, however i think it’s safe to assume Seiko must have been pretty drunk (nothing different there then…)

I then went back to tell the good news to Arnaud who had now managed to find some JGirls (5 of them) and was engaged in conversation with them on the center table.

Blond Hair Syndrome - The art of being cute by hair colour?

Gowry had said about this before I went, girls will give you attention because of your hair colour. But I couldn’t believe this would be true.. though i stand corrected. The amount of girls who have come up to me and told me i have “cute hair” … ? … how can you have cute hair?!?!? I don’t understand! Even worse, I don’t know what to say back, normally just going with “Arigato” and trying to look shy… :o) haha.. I dont want to say “you look cute too” or something back (wrong idea!!), but at the same time, feel i am supposed to just to not be rude….?? (answers on a postcard please) - maybe i should just dye it black??

So to tie that in, this is what happened when i went over to Arnaud. I got the hair ruffling works (DON’T - i spend ages gelling i just right!! :p) - and was worried I would have to stay over there - however Arnaud wasn’t so impressed (”These are girls are ugly…” - harse i think, they weren’t, however there seems to be no intermediate word - a girl is either “beautiful” or “ugly”….) and wanted to go find a different club.

This involved a brief walk back down the main road to Roppongi (via a convenience store first … ;)) - where we looked for somewhere to go. However after 30 minutes of looking, Arnaud wasn’t at all impressed with the women (the notion of looking for good music seemed not to be a matter of importance for him) - so it was decided (to my relief) that we should go home.

I went the long route home, as I was unsure what the Seiko situation was, so got home at about 7:30 (after sending about a million photo mails to Gowry :D) to a quiet house. I must admit, i was still pretty drunk, as i’m sure I saw the guys shoes by the door, but on checking again when i woke up, they could have been my slipppers…!?!

After lying in bed for about 30 minutes, Seiko popped her head around the door and then went off…. At least.. I think she did, though I have a nasty suspision i imagined all of this –? she’s dissapeared out again at the moment, so i can’t confirm - however i will ask when she gets back :)
So yes, woke up to an empty house and after taking a 30 minute shower, decided i should use the time constuctivly to update this - so - here i am - 3 hours of typing later!!!

Have I missed anything? Probably, but I can’t see straight so well at the moment, and certainly don’t want to read back over everything to work out what’s not there… lol…

Tomorrow we are all going to Odaiba to see a show of somesorts, though i’m not sure what. I also really need to make the effort to enrol at college before they fill up too quickly….

UPDATE UPDATE - Ok I missed a whole week, so will continue as in one post, however there’s no way i’m going to sit on this floor for the next 5 hours, so it might be a little rushed :)

Monday 29th August

Monday was the scheduled trip to Odaiba and we were very kindly driven there by Shimpei. It’s hard to explain exactly what the whole place is and it’s purpose, but i will do my best.

Basically, some time ago (I think Shimpei said about 30 years ago, but i could be wrong) the Japanese Government decided that a new “part(?)” of Tokyo was required, so they built a massive man made island, which is of course, Odaiba. Then they built a huge bridge to get to it (the Rainbow Bridge). Finally, on this massive island they build a massive ferris wheel, a huge mall, the Fuji TV Headquarters and a load more industrial things.

Apart from the large wheel, the main attraction seems to be around “Pallette Town” - which houses a mall built to look exactly like the rome in the caser times. If anyone has been to “Caesars” in Las Vegas, you will have some idea of what this place looks like. They have the same high ceilings painted to look like the sky, fountains in various openings and big pillars holding everything up. On closer inspection, these pillars and the marble is just painted on (unlike the usa one which did it properly) - however it still looked quite impressive.

We arrived there around lunch time, so first step was to find something to eat. Obviously Japanese food was out, so we settled for an italian. To try and make a bit of an authentic, I was made to order all my food and make some enquiries about the menu in Japanese … (Kyo deserto wa nan desu ka? - what is today’s desert) - and even to make a complaint about my fork being dirty!!

The meal was actually awful - so Shimpei taught me how to say “this food is disgusting you stupid idiot!” - however I didn’t quite have the nerve to say it to the waiter when he asked how everything was … (Kono bakka yaro - you stupid idiot)

Next we went to check out the arcades (which in this place were hideously expensive, 200yen a game!!! - £1) before going out the main building to find the show / fair thing. It was a bit of a trek and on reaching the place, we found out we were required to pay 4000yen entry (£20) - which wasn’t really too appealing. Instead we went off to the beach to have a quick look around (i use the term beach very loosely - it was indeed by the sea and had a sand like mixture, however it was also mixed in with loads of tiny rock fragments which made it look a nasty colour….)

Finally (sorry, I am rushing this, I need to catch up and only have 2 hours until the pizza arrives…) we went to the Sega Themepark. Basically all the rides are computer generated, including the roller coasters and flying machines. This kinda took away most of the appeal for me, so i declined to go on anything except for the Touring Car Championship simulator which was pretty cool.

Basically you get in a full sized touring car (mine was a Mercedes) which has a huge tv screen in front of it. You then basically are playing the computer game “Sega Touring Car Championships” - but the car you are in is on hydraulics so moves with you…. SUGOI! :)
Finally it was time to head back, so we went to get the car from the car park (£20) and get on the freeway home… lol, freeway, i love that word.

Getting home and it was dinner time, but instead of staying home, I was told we were going to go to a Japanese pancake restaurant - cool, sounded interesting - and i’m happy to say it was.

It was a little walk from our place, so en route Shimpei gave us a guided tour of the area (which of course didn’t involve much - we have a library and 3 convenience stores…) before we got to the main high road and the restaurant.

This was a proper Japanese style place, with us having to sit on the floor around a largish table with a metal hot plate in the middle (which was a *very* hot plate as i discovered when i put my hand on it… lol)

There was no smell of soy in the place and i was quietly optimistic that perhaps this place might actually deliver something nice….. and it did :)
First course was some very tender (or is that, boiled for a heck of a long time) beef with a cabbage mix (I know Nan, i am allergic to cabbage, but i didn’t want to offend … :p) which was then put on the hot plate (though plate is such a wrong word, this this was basically the whole table) and started to fry. We then picked off it as we wanted… mmm… just thinking of it is making me hungry again :)
Next course was a noodle / meat combination thing which again was put on the plate and again was most scrumptious.

Finally was the “pieste de la resistance” (sp) which was the pancake. Now I don’t know about you lot, but I see a pancake as one of the batter kind. Not this though, it was like basically a bit potato cake, topped with many different things. Despite this initial dissapointment, after trying it, again it didn’t matter as it was so nice :)
I should add that along with this, we had skipped the usual water drinks as Shimpei wanted to introduce me to all Japanese alcohol. Well, it seems i have a taste (as also is true in the uk) for the women’s drinks, prefering the nicer taste of fruit to the harshness of alcohol - which Shimpei found incredibly amusing. “You drink like a girl!” - well i don’t care, as the alternative tastes rank as….

I think I must have tried every drink on the menu by the end of the night (we stayed until 1am) - so of course come home time I was hungry again…! A quick stop off at the 7/11 to buy some burritos solved this…

Tuesday 30th August

Today’s plan was quite simple, go to the language school to sign up, then meet up with Waka afterwards at about 5. Getting out the house at 3 meant i was kinda stretched for time, but figured it would be ok.

So, first stop the language school.

I found the place easy enough (it’s right on the main road - hard to miss) so went inside to see what it was all about and was immediately greeted by a very friendly old woman (well I mean she must of been about 55 or so…) who sat me down and the proceeded to explain how the course / school worked. Mon, Wed + Fri are Speaking and Listening Days, with Tue + Thur being the reading / writing days.

Actually, i should rephrase that. The first thing she did when i sat down was to grab my hand and proclaim “what a great ring, where did you get it?” (talking about my chinese / japanese ring Gowry got me at christmas) - i *think* she was being genuine, but maybe she just wanted to be nice to me so i would sign up … haha….

I must have been talking to her for ages as she went through everything which was all great until she got to the bit about start time. “Everyday is 9:30″ - HOLD UP - no I explained i wanted the afternoon course as there was no way I could get up a 9:30. “Sorry” she said, but “there are not enough people to run an afternoon course” (it seems everyone in this country likes to get up early and finish early so they have a whole day to play with).

As much as i pleaded with her, she wouldn’t budge and run the course just for me (even when i offered to pay double :D) - i was starting to worry this could be a problem. I wanted my months holiday of getting up late, and this looked like it was going to skupper my plans.

Then she hit me with another whammy… before i enrolled, i had to come to an observation class to check i liked and agreed with the teaching methods. Which was, yup, you’ve guessed it, at 9:30 the next day AS WELL as thursday. Well that just sucked as i was meeting Waka that night, then Chizue and Maduka the next and had been intending to stay out…

Anyway, I kinda half heartedly agreed and was finally able to leave :) However as it was now 4:30, I knew i wouldn’t meet Waka in time, so sent her a text letting her know i would be an hour later than planned - she replied ok.

So now it was off to Shibuya to get the train to Ueno to meet up.

After about 20 minutes into the journey I get another mail from Waka telling me she is too tired to wait and will go home?!?! Of course, I have never met her before and don’t want to come across as too angry, so instead of replying with the “f*&k you b1T6h, i have just travelled ages to find you” - i sent back a more conservative - “no wait, i’m almost there” (lol)

15 minutes later the train finally got to Ueno, so i headed off to the hard rock cafe (our meeting point) to find her. (i had by now forgotten what she looked like, so hoped she would recognise me - not difficult i suppose when i am the only blond in the whole station….) - however she was not there… hmmm… email time.

After 20 minutes she had still not replied and i was just about to give up and go Akihabara when finally i got the vibration in my pocket and the familiar “fairground noise” that lets everyone know how popular i am …. - Waka had indeed left and gone to Ikebukuro (about 10 minutes from Shibuya….) - but i could come meet her if i wanted.

At this point, i didn’t know where Ikebukuro was, so sent a message back accordingly.

15 minutes later I finally got a reply, so i headed back to the Yamanote line (the BEST line in Tokyo - like everything good is on it….) and off to Ikebukuro station (20 minutes away).

Arrive at the station - send email = “where are you” - 15 minutes later - “at the exit”…. (this station is huge and has about 8 exits) - “which one?” - 10 minutes later “east exit”.

Beginning to think this girl is a complete moron, but not wanting to waste anymore time and to try and make the best of the situation i head to east exit - where of course, she isn’t….

me: “i am at east exit, where are you”
her: (5 minutes later) “east exit”
me: “erm, i am at east exit, where exactly are you?”
her: (15 minutes later!!) “Come to Ettu”
me: “what is Ettu?”
her: “shop”
me: “WHERE?!” (trying not to send an incredibly rude message - keep cool mr ben…)
her: “it’s right outside the exit inside the mall (i forget), you can’t miss it”

I then head outside, but i can’t see this place, until i just happen to look right down the road where the big sign for the mall is visible…. slightly confused, but putting nothing past this girl, i head down the road to the mall and into CENTRAL exit. I’m looking around when i hear my name called… it is of course Waka who has been waiting at central exit the whole time…? hmm…

She tells me we will go Karaoke after, but first she has to meet up with some friends, so we head over the road where I meet 3 guys, 1 korean and 2 yanks who seem quite friendly so we get chatting. i tell Waka I haven’t eaten, so she says to go to a restaurant, so we head off to find one.

Finally one that looks ok, so she says to me “you go in and eat, then ring me when you finish and i will meet you” - this seems like a completely stupid idea bearing in mind the only reason i am here is to meet her, but she seems pretty adament.

I finish eating within about 20 minutes, so text her to say i’m done…. 35 minutes later she replies saying “what do i want to do?” - i text back saying i thought we were going Karaoke. Her reply - “well I have no money, but you can go on your own if you want..” ?!?!

Ok now I am convinced this girl is an idiot… the whole point of tonite was to go out, not for her to then say she has no money so i should go out on my own?!?!

This girl is a complete idiot….

So I go home… what a waste of a day - i could have gone to Akihabara after all… i suppose the upside was that i would in bed early for school the next day…

Wednesday 31st August

Something very scary and terrifying happens….. my alarm goes off at 8:30 … OMFG!!

This is going to be a struggle - roll out of bed and stumble to the shower. Ahh, the water feels so nice and warm and … sleepy …. :) Luckily there is the clock in the shower room, so i manage not to take too long and am all ready and leaving the house by 9.

The train is at 9.05 (i didn;t know this at the time) - so i just see it leaving as i get to the station and have to wait for the next one 9.10 or so - which means i then miss the interconnecting one at Sangenjaya - before finally reaching Ometo-Sando and having to wait in a queue for the Fare Adjsutment machine.

My first day @ school and of course, i am late :D
Luckily the older woman isn’t in yet, so i am spared a telling off - but given my sample book and ushered into a classroom where i sit to observe. Or at least that’s what i am supposed to do. I find though that after about 5 minutes i have drifted off into a complete day dream which i find very hard to shake off.

After an hour, the class has a break so i am moved into the beginners class next door to see what i will actually be doing (the previous class was the advanced, just to see how far it is possible to get in 7 months) - where it’s just one guy being taught and the teacher (who i will have from Monday) - again I sit in here for an hour and a half, just watching…

The lesson teaching to me seems odd. There is no english allowed to be spoken in the class, so everything is taught in Japanese. I can see the logic here, but I know for a fact that I needed quite a bit of explaination on the “particles” system before i fully understood it, so i worry that maybe something else later along the line might require similar..?

After this lesson, I again had to sit with the woman outside to ask any more questions and for her to drill into me that 9.30 is not early (i still don’t agree…) - before she waved me off telling me she expected me in at 9.30 the next day - i tried to argue it to 10.30 but she was having none of it…

“Your mother is not here in Japan, therefore I am now your mother here. So I will make sure you will study” …!

I decided to treat myself to some cream puffs from the shop in Shibuya for lunch (i was so tired, nothing else seemed particualy nice) - but then wanted to head home as the internet should have been installed (yay!)

Got home to find everyone back, including Shimpei - however no internet, so instead we headed off to the local electronics store to buy the washing machine. (or at least, for Shiho and Seiko to buy the washing machine….)

By the time we got back, I was knackered (it was now maybe 5pm) - however had to get out for 7:30 to meet up with Chizue, which was now looking at becoming a major task in itself.

Seiko and Shiho then went to go out, so I figured to pass some time, I would just have a sit down on Seiko’s bed…..

Of course, the inevitable happened and I woke up at 7.00 or so…. doh ^_^

Now worried I was going to be late, I decided the best thing to do would be to call, however i was beaten to it as my phone started to ring with Chizue’s name flashing up.

“Tomorrow I am going to Kyushu and am still packing now, so I’m really sorry but I won’t be able to make Tonite - I’m so sorry”

I tried to sound as dissapointed as I could (hehe) - but of course was now quite relieved - instead re-arranging for next friday.

I was though incredibly hungry, so it was back to the supermarket for my familiar shop of Chicken and Pasta Sauce, with a special treat of a creme caramel for dessert….

Spent the rest of the night playing computer games until about 1am when I figured I should go to bed…. except due to the knap i had taken earlier, sleep then proceeded to illude me until about 4am….

Thursday 1st September

How wondeful, the familiar alarm signal at 8:30. This morning however I wasn’t so forgiving to it, and through it out the room to go back to sleep….. school can wait…. :D
At 11am I was again woken, but this time it was a bit more excusable as it was the internet crew, round to fix the faulty cabling. An hour or so later, they were done and the net was up! Unfortunately, even though the whole house is networked up, it’s not been done in the most efficient way, so still only one of us can get on the net at a time, however we’ll sort this out and get a router at a later date - for now, it’s ok.

Spent the next few hours or so going through my new emails (400… sheesh!) and catching up on the forum - before getting ready for the big night out in Shibuya and “Club Pure” which had an all you can drink night for £7…

Firstly met up with Arnaud, before heading to Pure to meet Seiko outside. Now bearing mind it was only about 11pm, the amount of drunk people fallen over on the street was amazing, so amazing it was just comical. These were normal business people still dressed up, just collapesed on the floor!!!

Outside Pure was an even better sight, a guy/girl (we weren’t sure which) lying in a puddle with a rat sitting on top of him/her!! Tried to get a photo but it was too dark, dammit… Arnaud kicked the rat, expecting it to scarper, but instead it just stayed there… not afraid of us at all..?! The next kick was slightly harder however and sent the poor creature flying across the road…. hahaha….

Finally Seiko turned up and we headed up into the club…. to be greeted by the most empty venue i have ever seen - there were about 8 people there….

Was hoping this was just as it was too early, so on getting a drink, enquired to the barmaid where all the people were. She assured me they would come later, so we retook our seats.

By about 12am however, everyone had left, with the only people who we had originally thought were clients - turning out to be actual staff. Arnaud now decided he would have a dance just for the sake of it, and Seiko was pretty cained, so i headed back outside where the barmaid had now switched jobs and was working on the door.

Her name was Akiko and she was a promoter during the day she explained. I think she was underselling her title here as after some explaination her job sounded pretty impressive. Whenever a foreign band comes over to Tokyo, she is in charge of sorting out their hotel accomodation, planning everything - and so on. To mention a few, she has looked after Coldplay, Foo Fighters and Robbie Williams!

It was then decided that I should try and get some more people inside, so I was put on promotion duty, walking up and down the street shouting (in japanese) - “free drinks, come inside…”

Maybe my pronounciation was poor, or maybe it was just due to it being a Thursday night, but no one took me up on the offer, so after 20 minutes i sadly gave up :)
There was still no point going back inside though, so I stayed downstairs with my new friend and got introduced to her other friends who had now joined us (after going to Lawson across the street and buying me some food…!) - before being joined by Seiko and Arnaud who had got a bit fed up of staying inside.

Cue 2 hours or so of random chatting until the Pure team decided no one else was coming, so would close. We were however invited back inside for a private party type deal, which free pool! So in we went, where we met up with the Pure manager along with the manager of Club Ruby (down the street) - who told us we could now come in for free.

At about 4am, and after getting obliterated on free shots, we decided to head out and get some food (just me and Arnaud now, Seiko had already got a taxi home) - not before being told we were expected back next weekend, but we wouldn’t have to pay :D - SUGOI!

It was then a quick stop off at the local curry house to grab a bite until the trains started at 5.05.

The alcohol was now really kicking in though (we had been given 3 quick shots to knock back before we left pure) - and it was a bit hazy getting back to the station, where although I tried my best, i couldn’t run fast enough down the stairs to get the train - and along with another woman, almost collided into the closing doors.

Just then my phone let me know I had a message, and after checking it and reading the message from Arnaud letting me know he had just thrown up on the platform (haha) - i was about to put it back in my pocket when a great idea formed itself.

“I know, to pass the hour between now and the next train, let’s call some friends”

Cue some very drunk phone calls back home (including one at my peak of obliteratedness to Helen - sorry about that!) before finally the train arrived at the station to whisk me off home :)

Friday 2nd September

After waking up and almost having a heart attack when i saw my outgoing call log (this months bill is going to hurt….) - i got ready to head back to school to properly enroll and endure the telling off i was sure i was going to receive.

Luckily, the woman back at learning HQ wasn’t as annoyed as i thought she would be, and did see the funny side of it… phew :)
Walking back to Shibuya to get the train, I again received a text message, this time from Kaori, complaining she was in Shibuya with nothing to do - well now seemed like as good as time as any to meet up, so i told her to meet me at Starbucks.

Unlike Waka, Kaori was much better at time keeping (and actually replying) and arrived at Starbucks just after I got there. We then headed for the curry house of the night before to get some much needed nutrision.

We must of stayed in the restaurant for 2 or 3 hours just chatting about anything really. It was then decided we should go shopping as she knew some places that sold cheap furniture - so off we went.

It was getting kind of late now and i wanted to go home to use the internet, however was unsure how I should say this without appearing rude… deciding the “looking really sleepy” method was the best, i kept yawning until she asked if i wanted to go home… (w00t!)

So I made my excuses and left, though not before being offered a free ticket to “Agehar” on the Saturday night, which was pretty cool, so I agreed.

Back on the train home I sent a message thanking her for the ticket and buying my dinner :) and that I would bring Seiko to the club and that it would be cool so that she could meet her..

She replied back - “Oh okay”

Now maybe i read into this wrongly, but it would seem from that, she wanted just me to go. Why would this be…? I’ll admit, now i felt uncomfortable as I am thinking she quite likes me … eek!

Got home and was still pondering the whole Kaori episode when I got a message from Seiko telling me she is in Roppongi and did I want to come meet her and her friend Rei. Of course this sounded a good idea, so I set back out to get the train.

Arriving at the station at 12.05 was not an issue at first. The first train went to Sangenjaya no problem. It was at Sangenjaya that the fun started, there was only one train left before they terminated totally and of course, it wasn’t going as far as I wanted.

The choice was to either cut my losses and go home, or stick with it and walk to Roppongi from Shibuya (which didn’t seem that far, Roppongi-dori is right near the station) - decided i did want to go out, and meeting up with Rie would be cool (i had met her last year, but couldn’t remember her…!?) I set off to Shibuya, and from there, started walking down Roppongi-dori.

40 minutes later and I was finally there and taking a moment to have a rest (it was so hot again) i lent against a lampost. Except it wasn’t a lampost, it was a bus stop post. It was at this moment that the bus turned up (which of course had come from Shibuya…) - grrr… damn that seiko, she told me there was no bus!!! :)
Seiko showed up a few minutes later with Rie (who I didn’t recognise at all… hmm…) with Arnaud running up pretty much straight away after. First stop, the local convenience store.

The Local Convenience Store - A fantastic place, open 24 hours where you can pick up cans of very strong lemon flavoured alcoholic beverages for 50p. A perfect way to start the night; go to the conveni, get 3 or so drinks, sit outside drinking then head into the club. Quite pikey I know, but at £5 a drink inside the clubs, I DONT CARE!!! :)
First stop was Gas Panic (Hip Hip, yuk!) However on arriving there and finding it to be massively overcrowded, we moved quickly on…

Next stop was an underground Hip Hop club, which was massively overcrowded and playing some god awful music. Rie however was in her element and was soon whisked away by a decidedly sleazy looking guy who seemed to appear from nowhere, leaving me with Seikos two friends (who she still hadn’t introduced me to) - this part of the night is hazy, but i believe we stayed for an hour or so (and after i had knocked back a few white russians…) before leaving as we just couldn’t take it any more.

Our final stop of the evening was to be a Trance Club, found on the 6th floor of a distant building. On entering all seemed good, with Seiko quite drunk (well that makes a change) and ordering a round of Champagne! (well it was just for me and her, but Arnaud and Rei were off somewhere else).

Arnaud was thoroughly loving the place and had already made some new friends on the dance floor - seiko had now found someone else who would supply her with drinks, but Rie didn’t seem happy at all. After trying unsuccessfully to get her up and dancing, but failing, I asked her if she wanted to go outside for a bit instead - which she did, so we left to sit outside on the wall and chat.

An hour or so later, Seiko tottered out, saying that Arnaud was so happy he was going to stay, but we could now go, which seemed like a good plan.

On walking down the highstreet however, something amazing caught my eye… A ROAST CHICKEN STAND, complete with portable spit for fresh chicken.. W00t! Quickly getting out my wallet, i then proceeded to purchase a quarter chicken with some roast potatoes… :)
I couldn’t wait, finally i had some proper food and eagerly raised the chicken to my mouth (with chopsticks of course) and took a bite…

But… something was wrong. This thing in front of me certainly looked like chicken, but had the taste of something most unlike chicken, infact it was less edible than anything i had yet tried… (including the Natta!!) - I could have cried…. (i didn’t…. ;))

So it was with a sense of misery that I trooped back to the station, only for seiko to say she was going somewhere, wouldn’t tell us where, and jumped in a taxi to be whisked away..?!

We (me and Rie) stood there for a while assuming this was a joke and she would soon be back, however after 5 minutes it seemed aparent that no, she had infact left…!

So home alone it was then…!? There would be questions in the morning….!?!!?

Right, I can’t type anymore… this floor is so uncomfortable. Plus the pizza should be here soon, so I’ll try and write up Saturdays events tomorrow, along with a report on the first day of school! :)
Ja Ne!

welcome to the orient!

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005


Well I’m finally here, my year in another country has began, however even though it is probably the most advanced country in the world, i STILL don’t have internet access!!! I am therefore unable to keep up regular contact (no phone line either) - so apologies for the lack of communication.

The internet (100meg :p), phone (ip phone) and cable tv are all being installed in a week, so expect much more regular updates.

Also apologies for the awful look of this blog, but it will get a lot better when I get net access and don’t have to work offline for everything.

Anyway, I shall begin….. let’s get back to the UK.

Thursday 18th August

As you may or may not know, instead of chosing the direct flight to Tokyo, I decided to go via Shanghai and have my chums at the travel agents swing it so I would get a free night in a 4 star hotel and have 24 hours to explore. After getting on the plane however, I wondered if this was a mistake.

I was in the middle section on the end, with luckily no one sitting next to me, so was able to stretch out a bit (which was lucky to say the least, the legroom was awful!!) Then the next shock, this plane had no personal inflight entertainment… doh! So basically you had to watch what everyone else did. For the first 2 hours it was some V-TV chinese pop television thing, which looked absolutely awful and I couldn’t understand anyway…. (I passed the time by eating my dinner quite slowly - pork and rice).

Next up was “Swordfish” (with John Travolta and Halli Berry (sp)) which was in English, and quite a good movie so I was happy :) After this I had decided it would be best to try and sleep the rest of the flight out (or at least until 2 hours before the end when the wake you for breakfast), however this was easier said than done due to the cramped conditions. I did manage to make some sleep here and there though, so wasn’t completely shattered when we finally got to Shanghai.

Friday 19th August

The plane landed at Pu Dong (sp) Airport, Shanghai at about 4pm local time (and quite a bouncy landing too, causing a few people to scream, haha) to the most murky looking weather ever. You soon realised when you got off the plane however that these looks were deceiving, as it was about 28 degrees!! I then had to join the longest queue *ever* to get through customs (1.5 hours) before finally heading off to get my luggage and going to find the shuttle bus to the hotel.

When we got to the hotel, a porter came to the bus and picked up all our luggage. I felt quite sorry for his as he obviously wasn’t expecting the weight of my case to be so much and almost dropped it :) I told him not to worry and carried myself into one of the most impressive hotel lounges I have ever seen! Really high ceilings and marble throughout, it certainly looked the business.

After checking in to room 352 and being given the keycard for entry, I headed upstairs to drop off my baggage and have a quick shower. I must admit, I did get a bit distracted by the free broadband so sent a few mails (but hey, if not you wouldn’t have heard from me at all!) - a quick msn chat or so, then back to the lobby to find a taxi to the center of town.

The consieurge (sp) called a taxi for me, and told me it would be about 130 yuan (£8.66) - which didn’t seem to bad. This cost seemed even better after an hour and 44.6km later!! (let’s see a black cab do that).

I wasn’t sure where I was going (it was all on the recommendation of the guy in the hotel) - but it seemed to be a central restaurant/bar square where there were lots of people. I was quite hungry by now and just wanted something to eat and fighting the urge to try and Chinese McDonalds, went off in search of some authentic Chinese food.

In the large mall just off the square was a quite authentic (but modern) looking place, so in there I went. I wish I hadn’t now as the food wasn’t so good. (The cold chicken with mashed up bone was particualy yuck!) - but I did eat enough to get full.

After this, I was unsure what to do. Find a bar and sit on my own, find a bar and try and talk to a random person, or just go for a walk. I took a wander back out to the square to survey the situation (and almost tempted by the “Very Sexy Cabaret” with Chinese girls in school uniform) but in the end decided the “random train philosophy” would be much more beneficial.

Random Train Philosophy - Go to station, pick random station, visit. (repeat X)

A train here costs about 14p (or 20p for a further journey!!) - so it seemed like a good idea to go as many places as possible. (trying to descretly work out where using my map, so as not to look too much like a tourist :)) - i’m not sure where I actually went, but there was a big tower with a round ball about half way up and a “Super Big Mall” (or something) - which was obviously just a shopping centre.

Alex had told me to try and find “English Corner” at Shanghai Park, but I couldn’t find Shanghai Park on the map (loads of other ones, just not Shanghai) - which was a shame, as it would have been nice to chat with some locals, but hey ho…

I did manage to find a Chinese night club (which was playing that song you like so much monk, the foreign remix of “groove is in the heart”) - but was so tired I decided I just wanted to go back home.

Fell asleep in the taxi on the way back and woke just before the hotel, paid my £10 (it was night time now … haha) and staggered upstairs to bed, bumping into the 2 American girls smoking just outside the lift for good measure….

Saturday 20th August

The idea had been to get up for 9 o clock to have breakfast then go and explore Shanghai at daytime, however when I woke up at 12:10, I realised I had kinda missed this opportunity :) I therefore changed plans to go to the airport for 1 o’clock to check my luggage in (plane was at 4:15) - then catch the Magna Lev train into Shanghai. Unfortunately, the checkin desk didn’t open until 2, so I had to wait around an hour, however when it finally did open, I was at the front, so got the front set (by the door) by the window. (shame it couldn’t have been for the first flight … oh well).

I was then free to find the Maglev Train (though it was now 3:10, so I didn’t have much time).

The Maglev Train is a magnetic levitation train (as in it doesn’t touch the track, it’s kept up and moving by an electromagnetic field) and as such, is able to go much faster than a usual wheel based train. You think the Eurostar is fast, take a ride on the 442km an hour (276mph) Maglev, which has the benefit of being very smooth (no bumpy track) and very quiet (there is no friction to cause any noise). It took 8 minutes to go as far as the taxi did in one hour!! I just had time at the other end to check out the Maglev Museum, before catching it back again to the airport to get the China Eastern flight MU719 flight outta there! :)
I think I fell asleep again on this flight (and it had no TV!!) - so not much to really report there.

Landing in Japan was a lot different to last time. I remember before thinking everything was so “wow!” and “look at that”, but this time the same fascination wasn’t there. I guess it’s because I now see it as my “home town” :) Of course, there was the customary 40 minute queue to get through customs, however there was no problem and picking up luggage was a breeze (it was already off the conveyour belt, so just had to get it off the floor).

Finally, I was able to head downstairs to the station to get the Narita Express to Shinjuku. It may have been an express, but it still took 1.5 hours!! I’m sure I remember it being closer last time, but hey :) I then got a train transfer to head to Shibuya to meet Seiko and Shiho in front of the metal dog.

Walking out of Shibuya station, everything started to come back to me and I must admit a wave of happiness came over me, knowing that this would be my home for the next year or so … sugoi!

Seiko and Shiho arrived about 10 minutes later to get me, which required another train journey (and no down escalator.. doh!) but was only 2 stops (and about 5 minutes) - so I thought cool, not far to get to school. However, we then had to transfer to a different train (which was about a 5 minute walk away…) before going for 3 minutes to our real home area of Wakabayashi.


Now to say this area is slightly residential is a bit of an understatement. Well I said I wanted to be thrown in at the deep end, so I guess I got what I asked for. There is litterally nothing here. A small supermarket, convenience store and…. well that’s it :) I am most definately the only foreinger here (which I actually like… strange…) with the nearest shops about a 15/20 minute walk away (and even then there aren’t that many) - the nearest bars (Shimokitazawa - which was supposedly near) took me about 35 minutes to walk to)….

I guess you could say i was a bit annoyed (though maybe too strong a word) at the location, as I thought it would be straight in the action…. however, more of a shock was yet to come.

Rent in Tokyo when you share gets quite cheap (around £300 or less per person) so when I found out the rent for me was £410, I kinda figured we must have a pretty good place. I realised the request to Seiko for a “not too expensive flat” must have gone over her head a bit when we arrived at the entrace to our place (about 5 minute walk from the station)

Welcome to the Chez Griffiths and Co.


Now come inside…


And here you go… the front door of

4-33-14-312, Wakabayashi
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo-to, Japan


Now since we moved in, we have aquired a bit of furniture, however on the first day, there was nothing… not even lights!!! I didn’t have a bed, nor were there any curtains in the house!!! However a bit of that has been rectified now….

After a bit of investigation I have now found out this is one of the most expensive apartments in the area and is famous for rich people living here!!! I’ll admit, it is a nice place (and has started to grow on me since I got a bed…) - but well…. judge for yourselves (it’s only just been built, so we are first tenants :))


Now a special mention has to be made to the bath. As you can see, the shower is next to it (so you just shower on the floor, and what an amazing shower it is!) - but I couldn’t work out how you fill the bath up (there are no taps)…. may I introduce you to the bath computer..!!!


Yes, our bath is computer controlled. The temperature on the left is for the shower (so ignore that), then the time, followed by a set of bars. These bars are how high you would like the water level (I kid you not), followed by how hot you wish the bath to be (constant temperature, not a one off fill).

You then input all this info, press the red button and your bath is run for you. When it’s ready, all the hot water controls in the house speak to you and tell you everything is set!! You can even set the time, so your bath will be ready for you when you arrive home!!!

Couple this with having a small park right next to the apartment block (green space is very rare in Tokyo):


And a playground opposite


And I guess you can see why the place costs so much. When I get a job and have an exact knowledge of my income, i guess I won’t worry so much, but now it just seems like this is going to be a very exensive year!! :(
Right, so that is the house done… now where was I…a yes…

So we arrive here, dropped all my baggage off and then went to visit one of Shiho’s friends “Shimpei” who lives a few blocks down. Luckily for me, he can speak English so was able to tell me a bit about the area, what there is to do (ie nothing… haha) and very kindly offered to help me out if ever I need it. He is a painter for a living, so always at home, which will be very handy.

Seiko then fell asleep, so we headed back home.

Sunday 21st August

To be able to sleep here you have to be able to put up with the constant insect noises. We’re not talking a little loud here, we are talking incredibly loud, both rustling noises and sometimes bird like screeches. I managed to get a photo of one kind, but the flying ones are higher up in the tree and couldn’t get focused.


Needless to say, I didn’t sleep so well, and woke up at about 2pm. Already round was Shiho’s boyfriend Toshi and his friend (who can aparently speak english, but is very shy)

They both left, leaving us to do my first ever Japanese Food Shop :) If you wonder about Japan being expensive, somethings are (mainly foreign style imports) - but Japanese food seems incredibly cheap:

250g Chicken Breast - £1.20
Bottle Beer - £0.60
Equivilant Alcopop - £0.50p

Hmm.. actually that isn’t too good a graph, as all I really can remember was the alcohol and chicken :) But take my word for it, it does seem a lot cheaper here (Though I am still working in pounds earnings…. maybe when I start to earn in Yen everything will seem to cost more…?)

We then headed out to Shibuya to buy lights, light bulbs, curtains and a rug - before going to an Italian for dinner (my choice :)) though you have to eat it with chopsticks. Which involves grabbing a load, then sucking it all in your mouth…

Shiho then went back to stay at Toshi’s house, leaving me and Seiko to take everything home, then have a very slow 2 hour conversation about not very much … hahah… i don’t think I can start my Japanese School soon enough… (conversation with Shiho is even harder, generally involving lots of hand movements and random noises….)

Yup, living here is definately going to accelerate my learning so much, as long as I am confident enough to keep trying (be strong my son!)

Monday 22nd August

Everyone had stuff to do today, so the flat was empty when I woke up. I decided I wanted to try and find “Shimokitazawa” which Shimpei reckoned was a 20 minute walk away as it has many bars and arcades. So after getting ready (and forgetting to turn on the aircon when I got up, so having to do so in 30 degree heat :(), I braved the noisy bugs and headed outside into the hottest day so far.

Seiko informs me that the temperate in Tokyo is a pretty much constant 28 degrees (even at night) until October, so I hope my body starts to adapt soon, as I was sweating like a pig after only about 5 minutes!

After following the map for about 15 minutes, it soon became aparent that Shimokitazawa was not 20 minutes away, and I arrived there another 20 minutes later. I must admit, I could have probably made it quicker had I knew exactly where I was going, but would have had to run to make it in the 20 minutes Shimpei reckoned it was.

Shimokitazawa is how it had been described though, full of young people, clothes shops, arcades, restaurants and bars. I was pretty fed up by now though and wasn’t in the mood for sightseeing, so just headed off to the station to get the train to Shinjuku where I wanted to go to Sofmap to get a camera.

First stop however was the internet cafe, which soon turned into a 2.5 hour net session (it was so nice to be able to read something in English) and involved scouring my Japanese Penpal Site to try and find some English speakers to meet up with plus sending a few emails.

Then it was off to Sofmap to get a new camera. I was originally going to go for a high end one, like the Canon IXY 600, or the Casio Z750, however after trying them out, I decided I would prefer a smaller (and therefore cheaper) one. In the end I settled for the Canon IXY 55 (IXUS 55 in the UK) - so Justin you can be happy I now have a Canon - for about £150 plus a 1 gig SD card for £40 :)
By now it was about 8pm, so I headed back to the station to get on the many trains (3) back home - arriving back the same time as Seiko and Shiho. They had brought back a matress and some curtains for my room, so we put all that together, and my rooms feels a lot more homely now :)
I just need to buy a load of paper to cover the glass doors (it lets in too much light, so I get woken up when the sun rises) and buy a light and a desk and the room will be complete! w00t!

Tuesday 23rd August

Well this is today, and I’m just sitting on the floor (we have no chairs) - writing up all I have done so far. When this is done, I am off to Shibuya with my list of things to get:

1) Ceiling light
2) Desk lamp
3) Laundry Basket
4) Paper
5) Scissors and Sellotape
6) Shower Gel
7) English -> Japanese Dictionary

Plus I need to

1) Upload this :) 2) Pay Egg Card
3) Open Bank Account

Spent an hour or so this morning with Shiho trying to have a conversation, involving lots of translation book reading :) But I do need to get the dictionary to help me a lot more. Where possible I’m using the Japanese I know, but realistically it’s not helping me too much.

Friday I will go to the school to enroll, which then should begin on the 5th September. So by October I should be a little more useful in conversations…. haha

Anyway, I better go, been sitting on this floor for a good 2 hours now and my bum really hurts :)