Today was fairly uneventful - just some work and errands - so I'll say a bit about my apartment. If you cut and past my address (大阪市北区中崎１−２−６) into Google Maps, you can see my building (エスリード東梅田, Esuriido Hagashi-Umeda) by scaling to the second bar from the top. If you set the map to the "hybrid" setting by clicking the button in the upper right, the building will be conspicuous, because it's large for the area. (At the time of writing, Sep. 2 2007, the satellite image on Google Maps is out of date. The vacant lots to the left of my apartment building have now been "developed" into a strange roadway that I'll write about at somepoint.)
It's impossible from these photos to appreciate how tiny the apartment really is, because I can't ever get far enough away to take in the whole scene.
There are two "rooms" separated by a door that breaks up the space. The first room is really a hallway, along which all of the utilities are clustered.
The front door opens into a lowered area for leaving one's shoes, on the right of which is a washing machine behind a sliding door while on the left is a cupboard that serves as my pantry.
Once the raised flooring begins, there are four more stations that face each other in pairs across the hall. A little burner and sink faces the toilet closet, while the washroom sink faces a shower room.
The shower room has a bath in it, but the floor is water-proof and has a drain in the middle of it. Moreover, the door to the room is really a shower door, so you can just walk in there naked and get water all over the place. It's brilliant. (That little screen is a TV. I was hoping it was a screen for the intercom - you know, just in case I wanted to see who was at the front door while I was taking a bath.)
At the end of the hall there is a little step down into the other room that serves as a living and bedroom. (That screen on the phone is the actual intercom screen.)
Although the place is small, it's also very efficient. Notice how the lowest shelf for the dishes doubles as a drying rack.
Also, even though the suite has a washer, there is no dryer, since the clothes can be dried by hanging.
The door between the two rooms means that I can keep the room I'm writing in cool, but when I go into the kitchen to refill my glass of cold barley tea (mugi cha, 麦茶), I step into a stifling heat.
The appliances are generally useful and they motivate me to learn some household Kanji, but it's slow going. Take this rice cooker. The top button reads 予約, yoyaku, which mean "reservation." I have no idea what it means in this context. It just causes numbers to cycle from 1 through 14. The red light can show up in three settings. The first of which is 白米 (hakumai, "white rice"). I knew what that one meant because I knew each of the Kanji individually, but I had to look up the reading. (Theoretically, it might also have meant "white America," or "white American" since 米国, beikoku, means the US and 米人, beijin, is a somewhat old fashioned word for "American" - but I suppose we can rule these out based on context.)