My new apartment is a 10 min walk / 5 min bike ride from the station. It has 2 rooms, a dining/ kitchen, bath, toilet, washing machine area, and balcony. One tatami room. One western room. It’s quiet, huge, new, and I love it.
Last night we had our first earthquake and this place felt so solid. I’m much further north now, and much closer to where the March 11th quake took place, so the quakes are stronger here. A shindo 2 was strong enough to shake the Tokyo 4th floor apartment so much that the glass in the door rattled. I’m on the 2nd floor now, but the shindo 4 we had didn’t feel nearly as bad as I would have predicted.
I was told that my walk to Mito station would take 15 minutes. In Tokyo if someone told me how long it took to get somewhere by walking I would cut 5 minutes off because I walk fast. This ’15 minute’ walk took me over 30 minutes. Never again. I’ll learn how to ride the bus now.
Everyone stares at me here too. I took a certain amount of pride in going unnoticed in Tokyo. Many of my friends would complain that they were always getting the ‘gaijin stare’ but to be honest, I never really got it. And it wasn’t that I was just oblivious to it. So I’m learning to nod my head and smile and say ‘konnichiwa’ to all of the obachan’s and ojisans that feel the need to stare. They ARE incredibly helpful when I do mutter some Japanese in the form of a question, and I’ve been escorted around more than I ever have been before in my entire 5 years in Japan.
I am getting damn good at riding my bike while carrying big things. So far I’ve cycled home with: a ceiling light in a huge box, a 3 meter long laundry pole, and loads of groceries. I used to hate riding my bike in Tokyo because I always felt like I was going to crash into someone or something. And here I’ve suddenly become a master cyclist. Even K was impressed.
The food here is SO good. There aren’t a lot of chain restaurants, so we’ve been trying out a few of the local places. K is in fish heaven.