Thursday, September 27, 2007
Our apartment building.
We've got a tiny but cozy place here and I'm quite happy with it despite its tight quarters. In fact, I'm told that our apartment is large by Japanese standards. A teacher at Joe's school told him she lives in a smaller apartment with her husband and two teenage children. So we're pretty lucky!
Our apartment is three rooms plus a kitchen, toilet closet and shower/laundry room. I'd say it's about half the size of my first one-bedroom apartment in America. It's basically a big box with doors connecting all the rooms.
See it for yourself! If my wobbly videography makes you woozy, then just check out the pictures. Drink it up — I ain't showin' you personal space like this again! If I sound nasally blame my allergies.
This is the kitchen. You can see the miniature fold-up table we're using for now. You're supposed to sit on the floor on little pillows to eat at this table, but usually I sit on that little stool instead. Dining Japanese style was cute at first... and then it wore off. Our new, normal kitchen table is being delivered in two weeks, hurray! The kitchen space itself is sizable, but the refrigerator is ultra narrow and the counter-space is super tiny. I'm used to the stove now (really, when did I ever use more than two burners at once, anyway?) and I'm pretty fond of the little oven drawer it has to cook fish.
Next is a peek at our bedroom (ooooooo!)
As you can see, it's a bit empty. Keeping with Japanese custom, we're sleeping on futon mats on the floor. We fold them up and store them in the closet each morning and lay them out again each night. Failing to do so can have some creepy consequences — tatami bugs. They're microscopic bugs that live in the tatami mats (some sort of woven grass mat) that are built into the floor in our bedroom and family room. That's what they use here instead of carpet. Anyway, leaving out the futons can trap little bits of moisture in the tatami and lead to infestations of these invisible critters. They bite you in your sleep and you wake up with little red spots all over. Makes me cringe just thinking about it! So that is good enough motivation not to leave our pile of futons out all the time.
Now many of you know that I'm a very finicky sleeper. Sleeping conditions must be perfect for this sleeping beauty to get any shut-eye. But the good news is I found a memory foam mat and it's actually made sleeping pretty comfy. I still would have liked to have a regular bed, but the room we're using as the bedroom is the only one with decent temperature control since it has the air conditioner in it (an electric wall unit — no central air here in Japan, argh!). And considering that all four walls of this room have doors to access other areas of the apartment or the closet, putting a bed here just wasn't practical. Even if it was, I have yet to see a bed big enough to fit both Joe and me here.
Moving on. This is our family room, which at the moment just has the mirror and my one lonely chair in it. But it is a heavenly, comfortable chair. And it was free.
Here's the office, viewed from the kitchen.
And the office again, standing against the far wall and looking into the kitchen this time.
This is our toilet closet, which has the toilet in it and nothing else. I was surprised to see that the sink is actually built into the toilet itself so that when you flush, water that refills the tank comes out the spicket on top so you can wash your hands. Pretty nifty if you asked me (though I admit, the first time I saw this I wasn't getting my hands anywhere near that water!)
And then in a separate room off the kitchen, we have the bathroom/laundry room. There's just a tiny washer in here, no dryer. All the apartment dwellers around here hang their clothes out to dry on their back porch — knickers and everything.
Here's the shower. The tub actually comes with a cover that you can unroll over the top to keep warm water warm so more than one person can use the same bath water... No thanks.
And last I'll leave you with the view of our back porch. We've got a fabulous view of the Astram line, the tram we ride to go downtown. It takes about 20 minutes. It's not the prettiest view you've ever seen, but luckily the tram is pretty quiet. And I've come to appreciate our close location to the train station.
So there you have it! Now come see it in person!