Sunday, September 30, 2007

Roppongi Hills

I went out last night with my roommates and the guys upstairs to a club in Roppongi. It was really cool, the club was on the 57th floor of the building and there were giant windows everywhere, so you got a FANTASTIC view of Tokyo all lit up at night. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures, though : (
I finally had some sushi here, too - last night after work I went out with one of my coworkers to this little sushi restaurant right there in Sagamihara. It was pretty good, although I wasn't terribly adventurous; I just stuck to egg, eel, salmon, shrimp, and eggplant tenpura. James went for some octopus and squid, but I pretty much will only eat octopus in small, well-cooked quantities, and squid if it is calamari. I went out for drinks and appetizers the other day with a couple other coworkers at TGI Friday's (there's actually one right in Machida - I was surprised, I thought they were just an American chain) and had some delicious calamari.
This post will be fairly short because all this talk of food is making me hungry. I think I'm going to go run to the grocery store and pick something up to eat.
Tomorrow I'll be working at the Tsurukawa branch, which is much closer than Sagamihara. I think it's a pretty small branch, so hopefully it'll be fairly organized and not as crazy as Shibuya was.
The weather here got really cold overnight it seems. A couple days ago it was hot as ever, and now it's cold and rainy.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Takoyaki is the octopus; it's basically diced octopus rolled in this special breading and fried into balls. Yum yum, right? It actually tastes okay, although unagi (eel) is better.
I went out last night with most of my branch to this all-you-can-drink izakaya right there in Sagamihara; it was like five minutes from the school. Almost everyone was there, including the staff; I think we were only missing like two people. We were in a tatami room, so we actually all had to take our shoes off in the entranceway and put them in these little cubbies. The place provided slippers, but most of us just went up barefoot. We were at this really low table with cushions on the floor to sit on and a hole underneath so you can stretch your legs. It was pretty fun.
Another new Nova guy just moved in next door to us, I ran into him yesterday on my way home. He's actually training at Shibuya this week; he's going to a branch that's closer than Sagamihara, though.
I'm off tomorrow, yay! I might head back up to Harajuku; or I might see if there's a Tully's anywhere in Mukougaokayuen (the next stop up from Ikuta). The one in Machida is really nice, it's pretty big and there are tables and cushy chairs all around, and the coffee is pretty good. Oh and when I was there the other day the guy behind the counter was really cute ^.~
I STILL have not done karaoke, but it turns out a couple guys at my branch are into it, so I might try to go out with them at some point.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Today before work I went to Akihabara with one of the guys I work with, it was pretty fun. I picked up this awesome dictionary for my DS; I was going to just pick up a regular book-form dictionary, but James showed me this DS thing and it's pretty awesome. You can look up unfamiliar kanji by using the touch stick to just draw it right on the screen, and you can use it both ways - look up the English or Japanese definitions of a word, or look up the Japanese word for an English word or vice versa. I'm very happy to have a dictionary again, my Japanese should come along much better now. I looked at digital cameras as well, and I think I might go ahead and get one once I finally get paid. Mine has been acting up, it's probably time for a new one. My phone actually takes pretty good pictures, but I don't know if I can get pictures from my phone onto my computer.
While we were in Akihabara we saw this guy (a Westerner) dressed up as this anime character, actually leading a guided tour through the district. It was pretty funny, people were actually following them around taking pictures. Oh! and I ate takoyaki again for the first time since I've been here. It was better this time, although it probably won't become a regular staple of my diet, haha.
I also had Dr Pepper for the first time since arriving here! You almost never see Dr Pepper in vending machines or at grocery stores here, I was beginning to think that it didn't exist in Japan. But no, there was some in Akihabara! Right there in the vending machine! I hadn't had soda in general here in Japan in forever because all I've seen has been Coke and Pepsi, neither of which I particularly like. It's probably a good thing, it's not like soda is the healthiest of drinks, but it was kind of nice to have some good old-fashioned sugar and carbonation.
I saw one of those sushi-train restaurants in Machida while I was wandering around, so my roommates and I might head down there at some point to try it out. I still haven't eaten any sushi here, since I'm kind of wary as to what might be in it.
Anyway, that's it for now; gotta get up far too early tomorrow in order to be at work on time so I should get to bed soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


So here are some pictures, finally. The first two are the two flights of stairs I have to climb in order to get to my apartment building. The last is my futon in my room. I tried to take a picture of the view from my balcony, but it's too dark out to really see anything. Those steps are killer. Those are two separate flights of stairs, not just pictures of one taken from different angles. They're right after one another, too, so you don't even get a bit of a break after one before going right on to the next. If I didn't like my roommates and if my apartment wasn't actually fairly nice, I'd be putting in for a housing change simply so I don't have to deal with those stairs anymore! Apparently Ikuta is sort of infamous because of them; when I was training at Shibuya, when I told people where I was from they would go "oh, with the giant hill?" or "with all those steps?" I'm getting a ton of exercise anyway, with having to go up and down those steps every time I want to go somewhere and then walking up and down all the steps at the train stations and then of course walking wherever I need to go.
I saw this cool burnished silver bag at a little shop in Machida when I was there yesterday; I might try to find the shop again tomorrow before work to pick it up, it was only 1700 yen. The 5000 yen ankle boots at the shop right below where I work are still calling my name, but I am strong! I will resist! At least until payday : p
I heard that Tully's coffee shops all have free wireless, so I'll probably stop by the one in Machida tomorrow before work as well. I wish we had a Tully's here in Ikuta so I wouldn't have to lug my laptop all over the place. I think there might be one the next stop over, I'll have to go there and check next time I'm free. Ikuta doesn't even have a Starbucks, can you believe that? I haven't spotted a single coffee shop here, not even a small independent one. Fortunately there's a brand of canned coffee that you can get in vending machines that's actually really good, I usually grab one as I'm heading to the station to go to work.
A kind of funny phenomenon I've noticed here is American and British actors endorsing Japanese products. So far I've seen commercials with Tommy Lee endorsing canned coffee, Orlando Bloom endorsing hair gel, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt endorsing Softbank (my phone company!), and in a HILARIOUS episode of SMAPxSMAP, the Black Eyed Peas were guests and they did a rendition of one of their songs along with all of SMAP. So you have this American hip-hop group doing their thing, and this Japanese pop boy band all trying to be all hip hop along with them. I don't really care for SMAP, but I may have to start watching their variety show regularly if this sort of thing is a common occurrence on it. It's funny because it seems like all these famous western stars all come over to Japan to do things that they would never do in their home countries.
Anyway, I'm running low on battery here so that's it. I'll post again sometime later this week!

Monday, September 17, 2007


So I just discovered that I can pick up an internet signal on my balcony! It's not very strong, but it gets the job done. I might run down to Yodobashi tomorrow to try to figure out getting our own internet... it's kind of hit or miss whether or not there'll be an English speaker there but since I got a commuter pass, might as well use it. Man those things were expensive. I kind of want to change branches to somewhere closer, but apparently you have to wait until the end of probation to ask for any sort of changes, be it a branch change or a schedule change or a shift swap or whatever. Bah.
I'm planning on heading to Shibuya again on Wednesday with a girl from my branch, so hopefully I'll be able to actually get my traveler's checks changed then as well. I've got tomorrow and Wednesday off, yay. No hour commute for me for two days, whoo. I haaaate the long commute to my branch, but I like the branch well enough, so I guess by the time my probation's up I'll have decided whether or not I want to put in for a transfer to a new branch or not.
Speaking of commuting, I've become so Japanese on the trains. I sit down (or stand, as the case may be), pull out my phone, and browse the internet, haha. I can't access regular PC sites without major fees so I can't, for instance, blog on the train, but there are plenty of mobile sites that I can poke around on instead.
I'm getting bit by mosquitos here, so I think I'm going to head back inside now. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up this signal again tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Not a lot this time

So I don't actually have a lot to say in this post, but I figured I should take advantage of the internet while I have the chance. I finished training today, whoo. So now I've got tomorrow off, and then I'll start at my main branch on Friday. I will hopefully use tomorrow to both finally deposit my traveler's checks and get a cell phone. I'll probably get a Softbank one, just because it seems like almost all the Nova instructors use them. I think DoCoMo is more popular with Japanese people, but for now I'll probably be calling more Nova people than Japanese people. It seems like all the plans and phones are all pretty much the same anyway.
I've been too busy with training to buy anymore shoes... which is probably a good thing, haha. Gotta make my money last until I get paid! (Which means no Koichi poster for you yet, Corinne : p) It's a Johnnys paradise right now in Tokyo - Nagase is in the latest DoCoMo ads so he is EVERYWHERE, and Kinki Kids just put out a new single so they are all over the place as well.
Ummmm, I suppose that's it for now. Not much new has happened since yesterday, all I really did today was train. And get my bankcard. I'm so happy I got my bankcard. Anyway, I'll post again when I get a chance!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Shoes, this time!

Did I forget to mention in my last post the shoes I bought in Harajuku? What an oversight! They were only a thousand yen, or roughly ten bucks - I couldn`t resist! They`re these cute strappy backless silver and blue sandals, and there was only one pair left that just happened to be my size. I`d post a picture, but I`m still internet-less, unfortunately. I`m back at the internet cafe in Shibuya that`s right across from the building I`m traning in. Training has been going fairly well; all the people are pretty nice and the job isn`t really too difficult. My fellow trainees are pretty cool too; they`re both Canadian, and both pretty friendly. One actually lives pretty close, he`s in the Tama area as well, and I think he`ll also be working in the Sagamihara branch.
For lunch today I went with both of them to this place where you got a ticket from a vending machine with what you wanted to eat, then you gave the ticket to a waitress and she brought your food out. It`s a pretty convenient system, and the food was actually pretty good. We were sitting near this Japanese guy who wanted to practice his English on us, so we were all talking with him in this mixture of broken English and Japanese. It was pretty cool.
I`m going to try to pick up a cell phone on Thursday; apparently there`s a place here in Shibuya that has English-speaking staff, so I`m probably going to go there. I want to get a phone with internet on it; apparently most models and plans include internet anyway. I heard that it can take up to a month to get internet sorted out for an apartment, so phone internet would at least be better than nothing.
That`s it for now; I might come back here again tomorrow, we`ll see. It`s open pretty late it seems, so stopping by after work shouldn`t be a problem. I`ll have to try to find a different cafe in Sagamihara once I start there.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Internet, finally!

So my apartment is currently without internet, and the town I`m living in doesn`t seem to have an internet cafe, so I haven`t been able to post to this thing. I probably won`t be able to post with any regularity until we get our internet back, either. I`m currently at an internet cafe in Shibuya, and I think my hour is almost up so this will be a short post. I start training tomorrow here in Shibuya, then on Friday I start regular work at Sagamihara. My roommates are both really friendly and cool, I`ve gone out to dinner with them a couple times and yesterday I went to Shinjuku with one to pick up some stuff for my room. The sheets that came with my futon were mismatched and ugly, so I had to pick up some new ones, and also a mirror and some storage. The town I`m living in is tiny, but we`re pretty close to some bigger places and only a half hour train ride from central Tokyo. There are some other Nova people living in the same apartment building as us, I met a couple the other day. We`re all planning on going to karaoke Monday evening, that should be fun. Um, I guess that`s all for now... I`ll probably think of something else the minute I leave the cafe, haha. Anyway, it may be a couple more weeks before I post again, but I just wanted to let everyone know I haven`t dropped off the face of the earth!