Saturday, April 17, 2010

Here’s the new apartment.

DSC00018 As promised, I bring you a follow-up post about the new apartment. We spent about 30 minutes checking stuff and measuring all the rooms for the new furniture and appliances.
One really silly thing about Japanese apartments is that they come completely unfurnished. By unfurnished I don’t mean they don’t give us tables and chairs, I mean that it has nothing there as far as appliances and light fixtures. When you move to any apartment in Japan unless under special circumstances, you will be expected to bring your own ceiling light fixtures, light bulbs, cooking stove, curtains/blinds and refrigerator. Apartments come bare, something that you wouldn’t expect if you came from a long life time of living in apartments in the US. I find this very strange.
DSC00020 The official move in date is May 5th which falls on a national holiday. We lucked out and don’t need to pay any additional move in costs as mentioned in the previous post so we can use the money we “saved” and put it toward buying all the missing appliances and then some. We’ve already found a washing machine/drier unit and refrigerator at our local appliance store. We will have them delivered on move in day.
DSC00019 One of the coolest things about the apartment is that the living room window has a perfect, clear view of Mt. Fuji on a clear weather day. The town I’m moving to also has a much cheaper city tax than the one I currently live in and I can also enroll into Japanese national health insurance without looking forward to a hefty back pay penalty unlike my current city which expects me to pay for the past 2 years I never had it on top of the monthly charge...Another nice thing about it is that the apartment is located in an even more convenient location than my current one and has even more shopping and restaurants nearby. But the best thing about the apartment is that it is within a short bike ride to both of my schools.
The apartment its self is by far the nicest one I’ve lived in yet. It’s spacious for a Japanese apartment, it’s fairly new, comes with two parking spaces included in the rent, and it comes with a keypad door lock.
The kitchen is still dirty from the last tenant as the property owner hasn’t had a cleaning crew come in yet. Every thing will be tidied up for us before we set foot into the apartment again. I can’t wait to move in to a place I can actually call home.
DSC00006
The living/dining room area looking in from the kitchen area.
DSC00005
The kitchen area that’s connected to the living/dining room.
DSC00007DSC00008 
Here’s the bedroom that is connected to the living room. We’ll probably absorb this into the living room as the living/dining area is kind of small. It has tatami floors but we’ll cover them with a custom fit carpet. I hate tatami because they have an odor I am incredibly sensitive to. This room is the same size as the apartment room I lived in when I studied abroad at Gunma University. Now I have a properly sized apartment!
DSC00015 DSC00016
Both sides of the second bedroom. We’ll sleep in this one as the tatami room will be used as an extension of the living room.
I’ll take pictures of the restroom hallway and bath another time. The ones I took were hard to make out as I only took reference shots for measuring where the appliances would go. The restroom is pretty interesting, it has a bidet, seat warmer, and some other functions I’ll never use!

April’s big update.

DSC00001 Hey all five readers out there. I seem to update on nearly a monthly basis as the last time I made a blog post that didn’t have its date stamp altered to reflect when the actual date of the pictures within it were taken. Anyway I have a few big announcements to share with you all.
First off, I will be moving to a newer, much larger home over the first week of May. Yuko and I found a really nice, 8 year old, modern, 2 bedroom, living room-dining-kitchen, apartment in a neighboring town just down the road from where I work. The new apartment can fit about two of my current apartment rooms and then some within it.
The apartment was a really rare find as it didn’t come with all the additional strings attached like the common Japanese apartment would. By strings attached I mean that the actual move-in costs will amount to no more than the first month’s rent plus mandatory renter’s insurance and a 400 dollar cleaning fee. Usually most places expect a security deposit in the form of 2 month’s rent, a thank-you gift to the property owner in the form of 1-2 months rent you do not get back, plus any realtor system fees, and all the insurance and extra fees tacked on in the fine print. This apartment was really straight forward with the initial moving expenses and for its age, it was even more than we could have expected or dreamed for.
Moving into a new place in Japan takes a lot of money to move, most of which you will never get back. The renter’s market in Japan favors the land owners and leaves the renter at the mercy of the person who happens to allow them to live in their property. It’s all a big hairy mess. I am also surprised that they didn’t turn us away because me, a foreigner, will be moving in. Japan still regularly refuses foreigners, regardless of their nationality or salary bracket, service in the home market. It’s really disappointing but I’ve just accepted it as one more of Japan’s dated thinking.
I promise to have pictures of the interior and exterior of the new apartment later this weekend as we will be allowed to do initial inspections and measurements this Saturday afternoon (today.) We need to measure for the new washing machine, refrigerator, bed frame, and sofa we’ll be buying for our new home. I will also add more details about the apartment in the next post too.
Oh man, I am so psyched!
The picture at the beginning of this post was taken from my back yard. It will probably be the last one I take of it before moving. The neighbors put up their carp flags out early in anticipation of children’s day. The flags look really cool during a windy afternoon. But, I doubt I’ll miss them. :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Takeda Shingen festival in Kofu

DSC00007 I’ve been living in Yamanashi for about 3 years now and I have been meaning to see this festival but keep forgetting to go when it comes around every April. The really sad thing about me missing this festival for the past couple years is that I am within a short bicycle ride from this.
DSC00044 This year I managed to remember what day and where it was and saw a ton of people walking down the main strip of downtown Kofu dawned in Samurai armor. I got to Kofu station about an hour and a half before the parade started but the best spots on the side of the road were already taken, so I had to rely on a steady hand and my weak 3x optical zoom on my point-and-shoot camera.
DSC00079 This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a parade with people dressed up as Samurai, but it is the first time I’ve seen so many. The procession of Samurai clans in this parade seemed like it would never end. I think the line of people was over a kilometer long. Pretty impressive.
DSC00087 I am not really much into Japan feudal history, (pretty strange huh?), but if you want to know why Kofu has the Takeda Shingen festival, google his name. You’ll find him to be one of the biggest names for historical Yamanashi.
I took over 200 pictures but I only used a small handful of some of the better shots. I hope you enjoy the rest of the pictures below.
DSC00134
DSC00136
DSC00051
DSC00058
DSC00101