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Things to Look Forward To

June 18th, 2007

There are a lot of things that I look forward to when we make the move to Ikebukuro. At the top of the list, of course, is being with Sachi–that’s the whole reason for the move, in fact. Second might be the location, being so close to work for a change, and having a major shopping district just a few blocks away. But there are smaller things as well.

1. Living above a 24-hour supermarket. I don’t care if their prices are inflated. It’ll just be really nice to be able to shop at any time I want, and not have to settle for convenience-store food. It’s a small yet full-fledged supermarket; they got everything, pretty much. Now, where you live, this might not be such a big improvement, but where I live, there’s only one supermarket, and it closes at 9 pm (they usually have put the meat away by 8:30). There have been too many times when I come home at 9:30 or later and it comes down to pizza, McDonald’s, or whatever I got in the fridge. Having a fully-stocked market just an elevator ride away will be worth it.

2. No more junk mail. In Japan, junk mail which is actually mailed to you is rare. Unlike the U.S., where only you and the postman are allowed to touch your mailbox, in Japan, mailboxes are free for anyone to dump whatever they like in them. So scores of people are hired to shove endless fliers and crap into mailboxes, especially the ones in large apartment complexes. Which means that every day you come home to find ten ads for each actual piece of mail. When you go on vacation, your mailbox fills to the brim, alerting burglars to the fact that you’re gone. Now, maybe that’s still true for some in the U.S.–worse, as the junk mail is often thicker there–but in the new building, we’ll have the best of both worlds. Since only the postman can get into the mail room at the building, we won’t have the box-stuffers, and because they are Japan’s version of junk mail, we won’t get much junk mail in the box at all. Sweet.

3. No more solicitors. I am sick and tired of newspaper salesmen, religious recruiters, and anyone else who feels like it coming around to my door at whatever hour I’m trying to sleep and wasting my time. The new building has Autolock, a common feature in many apartment buildings. When visitors come, they have to get buzzed in by someone. I can only presume that if a solicitor gets in by following a tenant in through the door, then unhappy tenants who get their spiel will soon call security or whoever handles this kind of thing, and get their asses kicked out. I can only hope that solicitors don’t substitute for this by buzzing everyone’s apartment number in lieu of ringing the doorbell. If they do, they’ll get an earful from me, and I’ll ask the building superintendent to do something about it. But I find it hard to imagine a salesman, no matter how desperate, actually standing there punching in the numbers of three hundred or so apartments.

4. We can put garbage out anytime we want. Actually, Sachi already has this, but I don’t. In Japan, most people put their garbage out on the sidewalk, where cats and crows and other creatures can easily get at it. So in such a situation, you can’t just put garbage out any time you like unless you enjoy seeing it scattered all over the street (at which time, the building’s garbage nazi will scour it for your name so they can have at you); you have to wait until just before it’s collected, twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays where I am now). If you forget, then you have to keep the smelly bags of trash in your apartment for three or four more days, unless you opt for a largish outside trash can, which most people don’t have the space for–and they’d be unpleasant anyway, as you don’t just haul it to the curb, you instead would have to take the bags out of the can again and walk them downstairs.

When I moved into the place I live in now, they had large metal bins, and you could throw stuff in there any time you wanted. So naturally they took that away a year later, and we were reduced to a net over the bags of garbage. In addition to being a pest magnet and an unholy mess when animals get through the net (which is often), the garbage pile is unsightly and smells. In the new building, though, there’s no net–you throw stuff away any time you want, on the 2nd basement level. Which is where my scooter will be stored, so it’s even right on the way out.

5. Garbage disposal. This is one that I didn’t expect–I didn’t even know this was available in Japan. But the new place apparently has this feature. In Japan, sinks have wide drains which, when you pull off the rubber top, have a small metal mesh-wire drum that you have to put plastic nets over all the time. In Japan, people use these as little trash bags, and constantly shove food cuttings and other bits of garbage into them. But that means you’re constantly changing them, and the drum keeps getting moldy. Yechh. When I first came to Japan, I actually didn’t catch on for several yaers–I thought the net was there for long-term catching of miscellaneous junk, and never used it as a garbage net. That is, until a Japanese visitor to my apartment shoved a wad of vegetable cutoffs into the sink, drawing my rebuke–and then I got a lesson in how it was used. A garbage disposal will be much nicer.

6. Having a balcony you can actually use. Most Japanese apartments have a tiny balcony, if any. Most are just big enough to keep plants on, or fit a washing machine (one of the old, narrow, spin-dry units) or air conditioner outside-boxes. Our new place actually has a balcony we’ll be able to go out and sit on, or maybe even use a barbecue on. Nice.

7. Not having to play tag with deliveries. The new place has a nice flexible locker system for takkyubin or mail deliveries. No more having to find a delivery stub in your door’s mail slot and then having to schedule a stretch of the day where you have to sit around and wait for them.

8. Less noise–hopefully. Even with the very good mansion construction in my current place, some noises still get through. I can always hear when my upstairs neighbor is vacuuming, for example–not from the whine of the motor, but from their rolling it around the floor. That’s the main noise from the neighbors here. The new place touts double-level floor construction, which supposedly will deaden that kind of sound. Let’s hope. Then there’s outside sound. Yes, we are in Ikebukuro, on Kasuga Boulevard, a rather large street. Being on the 21st floor puts us above the sound a little, but not that much. I am told that the bosozoku (noise-loving bikers who roar through neighborhoods at 2 in the morning) don’t run much in central Tokyo any more (they do where I live, just not all the time). But still, buses, trucks, and regular traffic could be noisy. However, all the windows are double-paned glass, which insulates not only heat but sound as well.

I also won’t miss the loudspeaker trucks where I live now, the ones that endlessly weave through the complex parking lots at 5 kph, blaring away at full volume–politicians, junk dealers, food vendors, kerosene sellers, and so on. A constant stream. Also, while living near so much greenery is nice, you also get real loud bugs in the summer, and the crows start getting noisy at 4 am as well. All of these annoyances will likely not be an issue in the new place. Ahhhh….

I am sure there will be disadvantages. Less green. Less clean air, maybe. Waits for the elevator. And I am sure that new annoyances will pop up. But hey, let’s not borrow trouble.

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  1. June 19th, 2007 at 00:01 | #1

    All of these sound pretty nice. However, I’m not sure the the situation you discussed in #5 is true. That is, I don’t think everyone uses their drains in that manner. In fact, when our kitchen sink and cabinets were replaced, the replacement drain was installed with a very wide, shallow drain catch. It’s clearly designed to be emptied out once a day (at least) and not to have a bunch of food crammed into it. I empty it every time I do dishes, remove it and give it a swipe with the dish sponge as the last “dish” I wash and that stops it from getting moldy and gross.

    I always hated the little net things that went over our old, deep trap and never used them. I’d just empty out the trap everyday. It was still pretty gross though so I replaced it with a shallow metal catch that I emptied every time I washed dishes.

    A garbage disposal would be better, of course. 😉

    I’m guessing the only really bad part of your new place will be the elevator situation, particularly if something happens if they get knocked out (power failure, earthquake that is enough to shut things off but not enough to damage much of anything). That’s pretty unlikely though.

  2. June 19th, 2007 at 06:43 | #2

    All of these things sound pretty good, Luis. We’re looking forward to similar amenities when we move into our new place next summer. (Well, except for #1. We’ll have to walk an entire 180 seconds to get to the nearest supermarket.)

    So, when’s the housewarming party? 😉

  3. Luis
    June 19th, 2011 at 15:08 | #3

    Looking back on #2 (was it really 4 years ago?), I was wrong. For some unfathomable reason, they opened the mail room to any schmuck who walked along. We got just as much junk mail as anyone else.

    I was also wrong on #3; autolock security is a bad joke. All anyone has to do is hang around in front like they are doing something (checking their keitai, for example), and wait for a tenant to walk in–then follow them through. As it happened, we didn’t get anyone coming door-to-door, but it was a rather pointless “security” measure. ALso, solicitors did buzz every apartment, as it turned out–especially the NHK guys. However, if you just ignored people you didn’t know who were not wearing delivery outfits visible to the video camera, you could get by.

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