August 01, 2010
Anyone who has any idea how to type an apostrophe on a Japanese keyboard please chime in in the comments. SHIFT plus 7 gives me the & symbol for some reason.
Earlier this year I pondered the wisdom of going overseas again. I decided that IF tuition was paid up and IF classes were proceeding in line with my graduating next year and IF I had enough money to not be in a constant state of worry that a Japan trip was at least defenseable.
I had lost all my Japan pics when my camera memory cards were lost in the destruction of the trailer. Rather more importantly, last semester I had been forced to drop all my classes including Japanese. The next Japanese class in sequence is only offered in the fall and I will have to wait another YEAR to take it if I can(insert apostrophe here)t test into it this fall. My teacher said she would let me take the placement test this fall, so imersion training seemed like a good idea. Adding to this is the fact that I have had to drop that same class because of familly illness, trailer destruction, mobilization or a work schedule change...I am getting REALLY tired of this course and I REALLY want to move forward...of course we just switched to a new book, which is rather different, which means that its not REALLY the same course, so immersion study is an even better idea. Of course shortly after I bought the ticket, I ended up in the hospital accruing hospital type bills while simultaneously missing over a week of work. This hit to my cash flow was too much so, as I had purchased trip insurance, I attempted to cancel the trip....alas, it was too late to do so.
Yotsugi Crib is only about 10 minutes by foot from Taiteishi station. Note that this increases dramatically if one leaves the from the wrong station exit and dutifully follows the instructions on ones map ( which will put one approximately 30 degrees off course, but provide one with many of the same sorts of landmarks that are on ones map ie: gas station, police box, bank, post office....just the wrong ones). This is further increased if ones 74 pound suitcase has its towing handle break and then has its wheel seize up, and then its carrying handle break and one has to carry it on ones shoulder in 98 degree heat while going in the wrong direction. A good way to add further to ones time in transit would be to knock ones own glasses off with ones suitcase breaking then and then taking time ti dig out an eyeglass repair kit. Actually, this travel time can be increased to over 4 hours if one has not been informed as to the nature of the Yotsugi Crib and naively think it is an apartment with a name on the outside....
I finally realized that the train tracks on the map were on the wrong side of me. I backtracked, crossed the tracks and after a bit had gotten my bearings. However, I could not find the guest house despite thinking I was at precisely the right place, so I went to a police box and asked directions. The officer did not recall a guest house in the area but everything else on the map was legit so he gave me directions that took me through an alley, down a side road and put me exactly where I had been. So I quartered the area looking for the words Yotsugi and Crib (or Clib even). At this point a young man riding by on a scooter took note of the fat bald man carrying a briefcase half his size and asked if he could help, I asked him for directions and received a blank stare, but he ran over to a local Cannibal Cat warehouse and asked for directions. He also graciously let me rest my suitcase on his scooter. The directions put us.....exactly where I had been earlier. After some perplexidness the young man ran up to the Crest Star Apartments and looked in the window. Sure enough Yotsigi Crib is actually two single family apartments that have each been divided up into 9 rooms and sublet. None of the rooms have windows. 6 of the rooms are 'Rukia Specials'.....that, is they are a shelf in a closet that has been fitted with bedding, over or under another err...room.
I am living high on the hog. I have a room I can stand in. It is about 6 and a half feet long and around 4 feet wide, windowless & un-airconditioned it has a wooden bed over a desk and chair and just enough room to put a the carcass of my suitcase and have it open.
A slim majority of the tenants seem to be 20 something European tourists, the rest are Ethiopian and Philippine guest workers, a few Japanese tenants and, of course, there is now one American.
As spartan as the place is, its price cannot be beat and it has 2 full sized showers with changing rooms. This latter is important as the place is coed... which I discovered when a really attractive French woman named Clementine popped out of the shower. There is a single window AC that cools the communal kitchen but this does not affect my room in the least. My only complaint aside from the heat is the fact that I did not bring bedding which means I am sleeping on bare linoleum, however, as it gets over a hundred degrees in the top of my room I would end up wringing out and washing the bedthings every day. I am going to pick up a pillow and a fan this afternoon. Aside from studying, I am not going to be in the apt. much as I am going to be out doing things, so this is not a bad place to stay.
If anyone chooses to use this place remember: As one exits the train station exit so that the tracks are on ones left as you face the station stairs at the main entrance...also bring a fan, and some bedding...and one might consider not coming in August. Yotsugi Crib is very austere and one of the refrigerators smells like a bait locker (so use the other one) but +-300 dollars a month in Tokyo is astoundingly cheap and it is only a few minutes by train from Ueno, which is a major transfer point for the Tokyo train system and the home station of the bullet trains. There is a laundromat 5 minutes away and a really impressive looking bath house right down the street, which I hope to partake of tonight.
My big gripe is that I left my camera and my adapter for my blackberry. Earlier today I scuttled out to buy an adapter and left early to beat the rush hour and the "pushers" but the stores don't open till later.
As for food, I had breakfast yesterday at the Hotel in Ueno which consisted of toast, a salad and a soup that appeared to be chicken broth with fish in it. My first attempt at lunch was a blind purchase of the 450 yen special at a bento box store. It turned out to be steak, the first bite of which was delicious, all subsequent bites were canceled when a kids tennis ball removed the bento box from play ( I thought the poor kid was going to have a heart attack.). Second attempt was a piece of fried chicken from a Lawsons. Dinner was a Teriyaki Burger from McDonalds which always begs the question WHY DONT WE HAVE THESE HERE?
Today, as I type this I am at I-Cafe in Akihabara eating vending machine fried rice while waiting for Electric town to open up so I can try to buy an adapter for my now dead Blackberry as well as my laptop.. If I draw a blank there I will head out to Shibuya this afternoon and pick up some supplies from Tokyu Hands.
My 21 day rail pass kicks in on the 8th and I will head out into the wilds of Japan then. In the meantime I am studying, interacting with the locals and trying to uncover the mystery of the apostrophe.
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