Saturday, 23 November 2013

Welcome to Tokyo!

To my amazement and shock, we are actually living in Tokyo.
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I was working until the Friday and we left on Tuesday so there was really no time to think about what it was going to be like or plan what i was going to do when I arrived. Pooch of course started work the morning after we arrived - poor thing - but that left me as a sudden housewife with everything that gave my day structure taken away in the blink of a 12 hour plane journey. Bit Freaky. However, we have a lovely lady helping us with the transition who dropped Pooch off at work (after taking us to register as Aliens) and then showed me around the area before taking me to the supermarket to pick up some basics. I was very grateful for this since buying things like vegetable oil when the labels are all in Japanese would have been a bit of a gamble without her. I have since been shopping a couple of times by myself and have got to know the neighbourhood around our temporary flat quite well. This is our road.
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It is all, naturally, a little bit different to what I'm used to but I'm getting used to it. Characters play a large part in most shop windows and some have physical representations of their icons or of something more traditional like the lucky cat - my favourite! This one is outside a photography shop on the corner.
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There is less cross over between shops so you get shops just selling cigarettes for example and others just selling alcohol. I have no idea what the World Liquor System is.
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And space is at a premium. Everywhere. The solutions to this vary from supermarket aisles so narrow you have to go down them sideways to things like this - a petrol station.
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You may have noticed you can't see any pumps on the ground and that is because there aren't any. Look up though and you'll see them dangling down by the smaller Eneos sign. They are lowered to you once you have parked. Parking itself is at a premium so a lot of places have multi-story parking by which I mean you park on the ground floor and a mechanism then stacks your car on top of another one with just an inch or two between them. You get a ticket and when you scan the paid ticket later the mechanism trundles your car back to you. This was a huge skyscraper so large it had a ring road inside it which had a version of this parking.
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You park your car in the perspex bay and it trundles into the wall cavity on rails. It gets whisked below the building somewhere and I mean b.e.l.o.w. Most of these large buildings have 4 basement levels so I can only guess how far down the cars are kept. All to minimise the space they take up.

This temporary flat was provided by the company so is a little small - like a studio flat - but has the benefit of being very central. We are about 6 minutes walk from the Imperial Palace Gardens. I tootled up there yesterday and visited the Craft Gallery which was wonderful but I'll save that for another time. The walk there showed the pressures of space with wooded walks surrounded by major roads.
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The rest of Tokyo is nowhere near as leafy as this but there are small parks spread around and you are usually protected from the noise of the traffic, even if it is still visible.
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We went house hunting yesterday and struck gold on our second viewing - just as well since our first had polished concrete walls and was like someone's garage - and about the same size. So we may well be living in an area called Hiroo (pronounced h'i-roh) after this first month. Today we are going shopping for mobile phones and possibly a bank account for me. I get to choose my debit card colour from 32 different options. Next week I plan to make my first craft foray although the craft gods have been smiling on me - there is button shop about 2 minutes walk away. I have yet to visit but have stood outside and oogled several times. A love of buttons goes beyond language barriers.


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