Moving In

Monday, August 27, 2001

Thought I'd send this out to let you know we're alive. We'll both be sending individual notes to each of you soon!

Yesterday it was two weeks ago that we arrived. As I took my early morning walk this Monday, I couldn't help but think we are really just starting our stay this week. The two weeks since we arrived have been filled with getting ourselves installed in our new apartment and getting organized. Now most of that is over and we can start a regular schedule.

Our brief hotel stay is over, we've moved into our apartment (that's the complex in the picture) and have been instructed on how to use everything (but we're still trying to learn - like have you every tried programming a telephone in Kanji?), our alien permit has been applied for, furniture has been purchased and delivered, a second phone line has been installed... In short, there's not much else that needs to be done, so it's time to get to work and also to have fun seeing the sights of Tokyo and Japan!

The Japanese movers were something to watch! Can you imagine two guys carrying a sofa into your home and stopping at the door to take off their shoes? Well they did indeed -- for every piece of furniture they took into our apartment. This did not slow things down a bit. When our rental furniture arrived, they took not much more than thirty minutes to take in and place four rooms of furniture. When they removed it a week later, it took even less!

We love our new place and it has all of the comforts of home plus air conditioning -- thank heaven! Perhaps the one disappointing thing is that we are in an expat village with no locals that we know of in the complex. And it's not just our complex but the entire neighborhood and area. Walking down the street we pass Mercedes, BMW's and Jaguar's. It certainly isn't the typical Japan we've been pleased to see during our past
visits. But we will certainly endeavor to leave our little area and venture out and about to experience more of the Japanese way of life.

Dot has been busy at work almost every day with the exception of our move in day and the day our things arrived from the States. I have been able to work about half time and the rest has been taken up with getting organized and getting people in to make deliveries and install phone lines. (We'll need a second line so both Dottie and I can be on conference calls at the same time back to the States).

The phone line was a real hoot. In order for an alien to get one, you need to go to NTT in person with your passport and with cash -- quite a bit of cash. I went there a week ago and as I was warned, no one spoke English. They helped me to pick a number and wait my turn. When it came, I told the man that I was sorry in Japanese but that I didn't speak any more of it than that. He must have died a thousand deaths inside himself but quietly excused himself and didn't come back for five minutes. When he did, he picked up the phone on his desk and gave it to me and I heard someone speaking to me in English. We easily determined what I needed and I handed the phone back to the man who listened to what the other person was saying and nodded, hung up and gave me a form to fill out.

Now the form was all in Kanji, so needless to say, I didn't even know where to put my name. After a lot of pointing and nodding, I was able to get that and our address hopefully in the right boxes. Then he was gone again and after about ten to fifteen minutes I began to wonder if I had been forgotten. Finally he came to the door, waved to me and gestured that I should follow him into a back room. When I got there, I saw three men and a woman all waiting to see me. They had taken the little information I had given them and figured out our existing phone number and all of the other stuff they needed to know. And, they had spent the rest of the time finding someone in the building who could speak English. She was very helpful and between the five of us, we got everything done quite rapidly.

Of course the whole expedition took half a day what with my taking the subway to and fro, looking for a bank to get the cash I needed (finally ended up at the Post Office where they have ATM's) and then the time at NTT itself. But, three days later, we had a second phone line. But, of course, no phone. So, with great clarity of mind, I went out and purchased a phone exactly like the one we already have. My theory is why learn two different phone setups when you only have to learn one. Never mind that it takes us fifteen minutes and a lot of luck to actually record our welcome message! And then, of course, there's that minor thing that even though the phone has a remote, you can't speak on it and the main phone at the same time. And it does have a great speaker phone -- we can hear the other party just fine, but shout as loud as we can, they can't hear a word we're saying. I simply refuse to accept that a phone that has a speaker phone doesn't have a way for you to speak into it at the same time. We'll keep you posted on this continuing saga, but for now, don't expect to talk to Dottie and me both at the same time.

This last weekend was the weekend of summer festivals in our local neighborhoods. Here in Azabu we had the Azabu Juban Summer Festival 4pm to 9pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There were games, food stands and an International bazaar organized by the many embassies in the area. The highlight was a snow slide with snow delivered from Mountain Hida in the Gifu prefecture. It was a great hit with the kids.

Now the streets in our downtown are small enough the way it is and when shopping, a great deal of care must be exercised to not bump into other people. So Azabu takes this crowded little place, shuts down all of the traffic and then tries to see how many more thousands of people they can cram into it -- ourselves included. Add to that the 90+ degree humid weather and you can imagine a little of what it was like. But fun it was and the wall to wall people just kept moving around without incident and everyone had a great time.

Now if you're just dying to be part of this scene, consider visiting us next year at this time and we'll all have a lot of fun taking a sauna together!

So you see, we are now installed and settled down. We'll look forward to hearing from you and learning what you're all up to. As we go from the mundane things of settling in to the more interesting things of day to day living, we'll let you know what we're up to.
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