Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Well, things are now happening (Yes, I start every post with "Well"!). So, a less contemplative post...

I've moved on from Tokyo to Nara, which is close by to my laboratory. It's in the region called Kansai, which consists of Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara, and so on. They have a unique dialect (called a ben) so everyone, both Tokyo and Kansai people, say that I will learn to speak kansai-ben, much to their amusement. Anyway, at first I was looking to find an apartment, though I wasn't liking the options really. It's difficult for a foreigner to rent in Japan, because there are high initial costs (can be a few months rent of various deposit, "insurance", "key money" which is a gift to the landlord, etc.) and because the leases are normally two years at least. The alternative was a "weekly mansion" which don't require these things and cater to foreigners, and cost about 30% higher in rent. But through my friend in Tokyo, I had been meeting members of the "hippo family club", a language learning group that tries to learn at least 7 (or 17, or 19, it depends on who and when I ask) different languages. Anyway one of those members helped me find a home stay with her friend, who could take me temporarily. That person said I could stay about a week and also that she would help me find a home stay in Nara, which she did. So I got to home stay with the first family for two days, and then moved into my new one on Sunday. They're very nice, great chance to speak and learn Japanese. It's funny because the 7-year old boy at the first place was extremely outgoing towards me, always wanted to show me things or speak english or get me to play video games with him. The boy at the new place is very shy though, but I think he is already starting to get more comfortable. So now I'm living in a real Japanese house with real Japanese people eating real Japanese food! And today is my first day at the laboratory, which has gone alright. It's very casual, hoodies and jeans kind of place. They've found me something to work on, which I think will do nicely since it will involve talking to lots of people in order to get their input. And a chance to crack open my rusted, un-used programming skills that I thought would never again see the light of day. But its January, so its new again for everything old!

Oh, and Japanese houses and apartments are freezing. Someone in Japan should discover wall insulation and they should start using it. Mottainai!

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