Ah yes well, the rest of Kyushu was a fantastic time. Amanda and I met Midori in Nagasaki and she showed us around the Peace Park and the Wharf and stuff. Midori was one of my exchange student friends when I was studying in Beijing last year, and it was great to see her again. Then Amanda and I went to Kagoshima and spent our time there at an active volcano and walking around a lava park. A great way to end a trip to Japan’s extremely interesing, and surprisingly cold, southern island. Then Amanda and I came back to Tokyo, celebrated the New Year with Ashley with spicy Chinese noodles, karaoke at midnight, and going to Meiji Shrine at 1 am for our fortunes. And other fun things in Tokyo!
So, we have a TV in our lounge, at my guesthouse. I use it here and there; it’s got nice things like Cartoon Network, and I watch anime and the Chinese channel sometimes. MTV Japan, too. It’s a way to relax, practice Japanese, and have background noise while I’m eating. And recently I got a Super Famicon (the Japanese Super Nintendo.. another life goal down!), so I’ve been playing that a lot. All in all, I’m not like a TV junkie, but I use it often enough.
When I got back from Kyushu the TV seemed different, and at times wouldn’t turn on. Just wouldn’t. For hours. Later I found out that it was actually Jong’s TV. Jong is my fluent English-speaking Korean neighbor at Sakura House, the only one who’s been there longer than me, and probably my best friend there. He’s also in his late 30’s haha. Apparently he did some fancy footwork and, although I don’t really understand it, basically he’s going to have the Sakura House people fix his tv, which was broken. Broken in the sense that sometimes it wouldn’t turn on for hours. So now it’s in the common room.
I used it for a while in that state, but recently I’ve been kind of stressed and really just wanting to rest and watch TV or play Zelda on the Super Famicon. But about half the time the TV didn’t even turn on, and I started to get angry. I called Sakura House HQ myself to have them come fix it, but by the time they came it had already started working. So they didn’t do anything. Then today I saw Jong and I was like “Look, Jong. Either put the old TV back” (the unbroken TV is in his room, by the way), “or call Sakura House right now.” He got really defensive, since I probably didn’t use the best of tones to ask him, and called me selfish for complaining and stuff. I was like “What?! Come on. Why did you even put the broken TV down here in the first place? If you’re going to have Sakura House fix it, call them right away. Don’t wait for weeks.” Eventually he was like “Ok, I’m the selfish one. I’ll switch them tomorrow.” It was one of those, giving up and taking the blame on yourself to make the other person feel bad kind of things, I think. I apologized for getting mad, but at least the unbroken TV will be back. A TV should NOT ruin relationships, that’s just silly. Especially since I only have 2 and a 1/2 weeks left here in Tokyo before moving to Kyoto.
Oh, and more dumb stuff happened. Every week it’s someone’s responsibility for garbage duty; for 7 days we have to check the garbage cans and take them out whenever they get full. It’s kind of a sucky job, because you’re in charge of the garbage for like, 15 people. But it’s not terrible. Well, it was my turn last week. I took the garbage out and everything, but the last couple days it was raining and I got lazy and removed the bags and put new ones in, and just stuck the dirty bags next to the garbage cans. Which isn’t as dirty as it sounds, because there’s a big spot where old alcohol bottles and boxes and bags and stuff just collect. So I put the garbage bags there. I can guarantee that no one in the house would care, as long as there were new garbage bags. Well, Saturday was my last day and, as such, I was planning on taking the bags out to the trash outside before going out. As I’m getting dressed, literally with one sock on, I hear a knock at my door and it’s a guy from Sakura House headquarters. He happened to be there that day giving a tour for someone – and let me tell you, that never happens. Sakura House HQ guys are never, ever in our guesthouse. Our exchange went something like this:
Him: “Um, did you know that it’s your turn for garbage duty this week.”
Him: “Well, why didn’t you take out the garbage?”
Me: “Sorry, I was actually just about to do that.”
Him: “Well, today I was giving a tour. It’s bad for people to see that.”
Me: “Oh ok, I’m really sorry. I’ll get to it as soon as I get dressed.”
Him: “Did you forget to do it?”
Me: (just wanting him to go away) “Uh, yeah.”
Him: “Ok, well I’m giving you a penalty. You have to do garbage next week too.”
Really? I think he thought I forgot to do the garbage for the whole week maybe, but that didn’t occur to me until later. In any case, I was literally minutes away from taking out the garbage for the last time that week, and that happens. Granted, I kind of shirked my responsibilities a little bit, but it’s not like I’m getting paid. I did what the other tenants expected me to do: provide a clean bag to throw garbage in so it doesn’t all pile up. Plus it was raining the night before. Ugh. He came by today with a new garbage sheet (the list that says who’s week is who’s), and my name is up for this week now, and it’s in RED, instead of the usual black. As if he has to emphasize the fact that it’s a “penalty”.
Man, I can’t believe I move out in 2 and a half weeks. It’s been, let me check… a little over 4 months since I moved in! I feel like I really took advantage of Tokyo though; I went all over the city, from the well-known places like Shibuya to tiny out of the way places like Kami-Isuga. Since I live in between Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Shibuya, I went to all of them on a regular basis and got to know them quite well. I saw every major thing thing there is to see in Tokyo, and more. I went to obscure places like the Communications Museum, the spaceship-looking Soka Gakkai Temple, and where the Prime Minister holds Cabinet meetings. I walked halfway across the city, I bought video games in Akihabara like a true geek, I ate at over half of the restaurants around where I live (which is a lot, trust me), I saw the emperor himself, I celebrated the New Year at Tokyo’s largest shrine, I got sweets from Toraya (Tokyo’s most famous sweets shop), and I got point cards at a bunch of stores because I shopped there so often. Tokyo’s been good to me, and I’ve been good to it.
On multiple occasions I went to Yokohama, Chiba, and Kamakura, and I still plan on going to Nikko before I leave. I relived “Lost in Translation” by having a drink in the bar, eating at the sushi place, and singing in the exact room that they karaoked in. Went to my school festival, walked down nearly every major street within 2 miles of me, ate ethnic food (Sri Lanka, Thai, etc. And soon Ainu!), gave tours of Tokyo to friends, went up in the government buildings in Shinjuku for their free view about 5 times, saw headquarters of companies that shaped my childhood (Bandai, Sunrise, Square Enix, etc.), went to the Tokyo Game Show, and found little stores and restaurants and backstreets that only Tokyo natives know about. I saw all the random amazing architectural wonders that are the buildings of Tokyo; seriously, there’s soooo many interesting ones that you’ll never see in a book or on the internet. I saw a Russian Orthodox churce, Asia’s top university (the aptly named Tokyo University), the largest fish market in the world, and so many ridiculously beautiful gardens. I suppose that I took a different approach to the city than others would have; I didn’t get into Tokyo’s bar or club scene, didn’t go to any concerts, didn’t waste my life away at pachinko (Japanese gambling) or arcades or clothes stores or maid cafes. But I lived here exactly how I wanted to live here, taking advantage of the opportunities I wanted to take advantage of, and in that I was successful.