Our first week

Sunday, August 19, 2001

It's been a whirlwind week and we're still a little disoriented with all of the activity. Looking back at the week, it's hard to remember what all we've done but we feel we (and actually have) accomplished a lot.

Our plane arrived a little late but we had nothing scheduled that Sunday so it didn't really matter. This week was Oban or the festival of the dead and is a major holiday week for Japan. So, we've seen very little of the hustle and bustle we know to be Tokyo. We had no problem getting to our hotel on the hotel bus and were relieved to get all of our baggage up to our room. So was our bellboy by the time he was done! After getting settled, we ventured out into our new neighborhood walking past IBM toward Roppongi Crossing. Found lots of places to eat and felt at home in an area that looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. After all that flying and eating on the plane, we settled for a small pizza and then headed back to the hotel.

Monday, Dot went to work and I went over to meet her at 11:00 AM and then go to our new apartment with the real estate agent. We arrived to find our place filled with a lot of people who one-by-one described the security system, the air conditioning system, the front door system, the cable TV system, all of the kitchen appliances and even how to operate the fancy toilet in the guest bathroom! When that was all done, Dot was taken back to IBM and I to the hotel. An hour later, our relocation advisor, Arai-san came to the hotel and we taxied to the Minato ward office to make out our alien registration. We'll get our official alien cards in a week or two. (Minato is one of the 23 wards or cities that make up Tokyo).

Then on to the furniture rental place where we were asked what we needed for the one month we planned to rent furniture. When we told them we asked if we could take a look at what was available and the answer was "No, you get what we send you." Not having much choice over the matter and having the assurance from Arai-san that this was an O.K. deal, we signed up and made arrangements for delivery on Thursday. Still a little jet lagged and tired, we headed for the Panic cafe where we had eaten before and had a nice relaxing dinner before heading back to the hotel.

On Tuesday Dot went to work and I put in a half day in the hotel room before lunch. After lunch at a (believe it or not) French sidewalk cafe, I walked to our apartment in an effort to get to know my way around. Checked out the local shopping district and found lots of stores and a couple of grocery stores which we'll certainly get to know well. That night, Dottie and I had dinner at a Chinese Restaurant in Roppongi and were a little concerned that we were the only ones in the place. Another sign of Oban, I think, and we ended up having a delicious dinner and while we were eating, a few others wandered in to make it not quite so lonely.

With move in day fast approaching, I wanted to check out the computer hook up at the apartment. So, after a half day of work in the hotel room, I again ventured out on foot to the apartment. Along the way, I picked up a sandwich at the bakery just a few blocks from the apartment. At the apartment, I was delighted to learn that my computer hooked right into the LAN and I was on the Internet with no problem. Not only that, but each room has one or two outlets so we can hook in just about anywhere in the apartment. Pretty neat!

My foray into trying to change the voice message on our new phone was not quite so easy. Programming a phone when you can read the instructions in English is no easy task, but with no English instructions at all and all symbols on the phone in kanji -- well, it just wasn't easy and we're still trying to figure it out. I was able to get someone in the building office to help me out. His name is Tomo-san, a nice young man who I'm sure we'll get to know very well. He told me he'd come up and when he buzzed me at the front door, I couldn't figure out how to let him in with all of this fancy security equipment. He finally did get up to our place and we did, indeed, end up with a voice greeting on our phone.

Feeling pretty good with my progress with computer and phone, I set out for the local shopping district and came back with cocktail mixings so when Dot joined me that evening, we could have our first cocktails in our new place. She came by cab because she was running late and after sitting on the floor having our drinks, it was time to head back to the hotel for a nice dinner before turning in.

Thursday was fascinating. We piled all of our things into a cab and arrived at the apartment in plenty of time before the rental place got there. Which was good, because they were to be there at 10:00 AM and arrived thirty minutes early. The fascinating part was watching Japanese move furniture into a home. It's simply amazing how they can come in the front door carrying a sofa and, without missing a beat, slip off their shoes as they come from the entry way into our apartment! They had also padded all of the walls going into the elevator as well as the elevator itself and anything in our entry area that might have been scuffed. The bedroom furniture, living and dinning room sets were all put in place and they were out of there in not much more than 30 minutes flat! Very impressive! I had called Arai-san and asked her if we were to tip them and she said definitely not but that they probably would appreciate some juice or something like that. Well, no juice yet in our refrig but there was beer, so much to the delight of our moving crew, they ended up with a beer and seemed most appreciative.

With all of that behind us so quickly, we ventured out that afternoon to Shibuya to look for a printer for my computer and a hair dryer for Dottie. Found a really neat store by the name of Bic Camera which has just about anything electronic you might ever want. Came back home (no longer an apartment - but our home albeit a smidge Spartan) to spend our first night there. And what better to do for dinner without anything to cook it with, but to order pizza delivered. We have multiple choices including Pizza Hut and Domino. Not sure where Dottie ordered it, but it arrived less than 40 minutes later and was delicious. Just as it arrived, Robin called and was our first phone call in our new home. We're really going to enjoy having the Sakamoto's so close and she made us feel right at home in our new surroundings.

Friday, Dot went into work and I had some breakfast before settling in to do some work on our rental desk. At 1:00 PM, our relocation friend, Arai-san came by and Dottie came back from work. Arai-san then gave us a walking tour of Azabu-Juban and helped explain to Dottie all of the food items available in the store. It's more than just a little tough to buy some pretty common things like sugar, vinegar, flour etc. without being able to read anything in the store or on the packages! After saying good-bye to Arai-san we went back to our now favorite Bic Camera store in Shibuya where we had decided to buy the television set we had looked at on our last visit. It was a pretty major purchase and we made the store clerk a pretty happy camper. On the way home, we managed to find a fairly inexpensive place and had a steak dinner. While it was good, we were beginning to look forward to being able to eat in our new home as soon as our personal belongings and kitchenware arrive!

Saturday, we knew, would be a big day and we will always remember it, I'm sure. We had been told that the place to furniture shop was the IDC in a place called Fashion Town near the Rainbow bridge. We were there shortly after opening time and quickly learned that we needed to register to become a member. Once having done that, we were assigned a sales clerk who then spent the rest of the day with us. We were later to find out that she was the star salesperson that day -- all because of us. We were bound and determined to get most of what we wanted and were able to do so because of the fabulous selection available to us. Certainly not inexpensive, convenience more than made up for it and at the end of the day, we had furnished our entire place and delivery was scheduled for Friday, just six days away!
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