Home > Ikebukuro > Hello, Ikebukuro: Part IV

Hello, Ikebukuro: Part IV

July 5th, 2007

Sunday was a cleaning day for me. I left Ikebukuro on scooter and headed back to Inagi to clean up the place. Despite all the work over several weeks, there was still a lot left to do. Still junk on shelves and in drawers and cupboards, still items unboxed, so that was the first task. At the end of a few hours, almost everything was packed in a box or otherwise stowed away in one corner of the apartment, leaving the floors bare elsewhere. But not clean.

So next there was vacuuming, then cleaning along the baseboards and fixing up the little and medium-sized messes–gunk stuck to the floor, dust accumulated behind where the washer-dryer had been, etc. After which the place was halfway presentable.

One thing that you quickly become aware of when you clean out an apartment is the sheer mass of junk that has accumulated. When I started paring down my stuff several weeks ago, I impressed myself by throwing out a half dozen largish garbage bags filled with papers and other items that I decided to toss. Well, that was just the beginning, as it turned out. Right up to the last day, I was filling up bag after bag of burnable and unburnable garbage, loads and loads of stuff that I can’t understand why I kept, or can but figured I could do without. I don’t know how many dozens of trash bags there were in the end, but it was quite a heap.

And then there’s what is left behind. After seven years, a lot of stuff happens to an apartment, especially in a climate that ranges from hot and damp to cold and bone-dry. The humidity in summer mixed with the air conditioning, and the humidifier and heating in winter mixed with the cold on the other side of the windows, doors, and walls leads to condensation and other water-related badness that lends to the formation of mold. And so you start to see stuff like this:

0707-Moldywall1

And that’s not the worst of it. Near the front door, where the cold metal door drew condensation and the darkness of the closed genkan welcomed spores, there was a lot of damage behind this large cabinet I had by the front door. Here’s what it looked like normally:

0607-Genkancabinet

It looked okay, really. I mean, the cabinet was hideous and the clutter was not pretty, but it didn’t look moldy or damaged or anything. But when it was removed, it was pretty ghastly behind it. (No, I don’t have a photo, sorry.) The wallpaper (or whatever that wall covering was) was coming off and was pretty severely stained with black and brown mold deposits. The thing is, how can you keep that from happening? Maybe I could have predicted it, but what could I have done on a day-by-day basis to keep it from happening? Haul this big piece of furniture out of place every month and clean behind it? Guess that water condensation was building up on any given day and move this honking big piece of wood across a confined space so I could reach behind and dry the wall off periodically?

In any case, by the end of Sunday, I had as much cleaned as I could. There were three or four spots with mold damage like I described above, and nothing I could do about it. The guy who calculated my deposit told me that the kitchen and bath would be cleaned for me, so no need to deal with that–thank god! Mostly left behind was the pile of boxes and other stuff I had set up so I could load it in a van the next day.

That night, upon returning home, Sachi and I had received the bed frame. While the air conditioning people came in to install the two we had brought with us (charging an extra ¥14,000 yen because our existing tubing wasn’t long enough, so they claimed), we started building the bed frame. The problem: the drawers below the bed were only on one side, and that side was the one with the furniture blocking it. But Sachi pointed out that we could just reverse the construction and put them on the other side. After mulling over the parts and the diagram, I came to the conclusion that her idea would work–all the parts seem symmetrical. And it did, after an hour or so of putting it together. We even had fun with it.

At the end of the night, we were sleeping in an actual complete bed with air conditioning around us. It was actually starting to feel like home. With tons of unpacked boxes, but home.

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  1. July 5th, 2007 at 21:34 | #1

    Given that I have recently revealed (and did the best I could to clean up) the filth behind my tall cabinets, I can say without a doubt that there’s nothing reasonable you can do about the mold build-up or even the excessive dust until you move the furniture. It’s simply unrealistic to try and move it to prevent it. In fact, I’m guessing that it’d probably happen whether you pulled everything out and cleaned behind them on a regular basis or not. In this environment, mold grows fast. Probably one of the reasons landlords gut places when one tenant moves out and another moves in is that this is what happens everywhere.

    When I paid the rent a few days ago, our landlord told us that the prices for installing an old air conditioner are very close to the price of buying and installing a new one. Given what he said, I’m curious what you guys had to pay for your installation.

    I’ll be looking forward to pictures once you guys are unpacked and set up!

  2. Luis
    July 5th, 2007 at 21:54 | #2

    Shari: That’s what I figured, too, that they’d strip all the wallpaper at least and replace it–and yet the guy calculating damage costs was taking notes of little stuff, abrasions in the wallpaper, even when the same wallpaper sheet was peeling off at the edges and would clearly have to be replaced anyway. That whole process was kind of strange.

    As for the air conditioner, I recall the units new cost about 60,000 yen, no? The moving companies did it for us, and they charged 5000 yen per conditioner to take down and another 5000 to put up. I paid 15,000 for that (included in the 68,000 total for moving) to uninstall two machines and put one back up.

    As for the tubing, I found that suspicious–my own air conditioner was higher up on the wall at my old place, so I can’t see how the tubing was not long enough. For installing the two conditioners, we paid 10,000 yen–and they charged us 14,000 for the extra tubing. So it was 12,000 per machine to install, another 5000 to have it taken down from the old places. That’s 17,000 per machine, about a third as much as they cost new. A deal for Sachi’s machine, which is relatively new and is very powerful–we put that in the bedroom.

  3. July 6th, 2007 at 00:36 | #3

    The air conditioner we got (which is not as powerful as the one you were going to give us but is pretty powerful compared to our old one in the bedroom) cost 36,000 (though we didn’t pay for it) and installation was included with purchase. I think that you probably got a better deal price-wise because the moving people did the work…well, a good deal except the gouging on the longer hose.

    I think one would have to pay more than 5,000 for an independent job of installation as compared to an add-on fee to moving your stuff. Still, I have no way of knowing for sure. I was going on what the landlord told me.

    In the end, you were responsible for our new (free) air conditioner because our inquiry as a result of your offer was what got the landlord to offer to install one for us. Thanks!

  4. Luis
    July 6th, 2007 at 08:58 | #4

    Glad to be an impetus!

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