I finally moved into a normal apartment. It's much bigger than the old place and cheaper, but was empty, so I had to fully furnish it. The heat is back in full force, so the last two days have been pretty intense.
I spent all day yesterday carting stuff back and forth on the subway, dealing with the gas, electricity and water companies, registering with the local ward office, and dealing with various other logistical technicalities. Of course, there was much paperwork, and two parking stickers for my bikes.
Some things are very simple, but others are needlessly complicated. For my electricity, I simply turned on the meter outside my apartment, filled in a pre-paid postcard with my address and bank info and put it in a nearby post box. The'll just take the money out of my account each month. My internet, however, is going to take two to three weeks to get going - once I have all the forms properly submitted, which I have not yet been able to do. And this despite the fact that my place is already set up for optical fiber.
The expenses involved in my move have also been strangely lopsided. I was able to buy all the big items I needed from two girls who are moving back to the States for so cheap that it cost me nearly as much to have them moved to my new place as it cost me to buy them. For my mattress, I decided to go Japanese style and get one that can be folded up and put away, but I insisted on getting a double (140 cm wide). This is very nearly the largest mattress that can be purchased here and buying it meant paying more for my mattress than for my refrigerator, washing machine and sofa combined.
The two movers who picked up the furniture were quite efficient and I never had the slightest inkling that they might break anything. They had these huge, padded sleeves that they pulled over everything. They then packed it into parceled sections in a large truck. I paid for two parcels.
The new neighborhood I'm in is more central, but also more working class. The level of racism is also a bit more intense. Everywhere I go, shopkeepers at the smaller places will follow me around. At first, I thought they were just trying to be helpful, but the way they follow my every move makes it clear they think I'm likely to try to steal something at the slightest opportunity. Today when I was looking for some things for my new place, three proprietors made sure I knew I wasn't welcome by trying to block my entry and asking me what I was looking for. Nevertheless, they were too polite to actually kick me out or to prevent me from entering when I walked directly toward them. At first, I thought it might be amusing to walk around and ask them how much things were, but that got old pretty fast.
View Larger Map
Here's a map of my new place. The large site just to the east of me is Osaka Castle. I haven't had a chance to check it out, but I've heard there's some good rides around it. I'm now in "Central Ward" (Chuo-ku , 中央区).