Friday, August 31, 2007

Jet Lag

I woke up around 4:00 to 4:30 after a restless and uncomfortable sleep on a small mattress that's really more of a box spring. After unpacking and putting everything away, I went for a ride down into the southern part of the city. (I'm in the northern part, in Kita-ku, or "North Ward", 北区.)

It was good to get used to riding on the left side of the road when no one else was around, because when the streets are busy, in order to actually get anywhere by bike, I have to ride in the main auto thoroughfares. The side streets are just too full of pedestrians and slow bikes.

Once the shops started opening, I got an ice coffee. I thought the ice coffee Abbas bought me a few days before I left Vancouver would be the last one of this summer, but it's still hot enough here.

It was actually really good, but still not quite worth the 400 円 I paid for it.

I got my "Alien Registration Certificate" and did some grocery shopping, before Ken showed up to take me to look at some apartments. When I went to get the certificate in the morning, they had me fill out some paperwork and told me it would come in a month. Ken rightly decided this wouldn't do, so we went back to the Ward Office. He filled out some other paperwork in Japanese, I paid 400 円 and they issued the certificate that day. We then went to see some apartments, but we didn't have an appointment, so we could only see the buildings from the outside.

Although my apartment is tiny, it is really efficient and fairly well outfitted. Since it already has everything for cooking, including a rice cooker, I decided to start by making my dinner today. For about 2,000 円 I was able to get everything I needed to cook 4-5 meals. I lucked out in selecting sesame oil by the color alone, since I couldn't read any of the Kanji on the bottle and there were a lot of different oils to choose from. Cooking in the tiny kitchen was a bit involved but the food came out all right.

After dinner I took a nap and then another long ride around the city. This time I headed west and it was night - the roads were swarming with cars, trucks and scooters. I spotted my first Osaka fixie and talked to its rider about where to find bike shops. He circled two blocks in my map-book and wrote a name in the margin. Maybe on Sunday I'll go ride around in those circles and see what I see.

Now I'm back and ready to sleep.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


After a 10.5 hour flight that I spent watching crap movies and reading about the Guggenheims, I landed in Kansai Airport, about 45 minutes south of Osaka.

Ken met me at the airport. This time he was wearing purple suede shoes with silver stripes. I secretly have a competition with Ken over who has the coolest shoes. Purple suede with silver stripes! He's clearly taken the lead. Luckily, I already had shoe shopping on my agenda for the coming weekend.

We took care of some business at the airport and then took the train back to town. I was hauling four bags, including a huge bike box, so I was glad that there were elevators everywhere.

We went to the compartment that will be my home for the next 20 days. It's literally a box you live inside. I'll post some pictures of it soon.

We then went to the nearby department store and then stopped for cheap sushi at the one of the places with the little moving plates. It was 110 円 a plate. There was pineapple on some of the plates for desert. It was crap sushi, but better than any of the crap sushi in Vancouver.

After Ken left, I went home and put together my bike. I wanted to go for a ride but it's hot and muggy and I'm exhausted.


I've just moved to Osaka to carry out research under a grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

This blog is a way for me to keep in touch with family and friends, and jot down my observations and musings.

This picture is actually from the last time I was in Japan, Nov. 2006, and it was shot in Tokyo, but it encapsulates my first impressions of Japan.