Virtual Tour: Our New Digs
Well! Our air shipment arrived today - exactly on time according to the shipping people so we are hoping the sea shipment will also be on time in a few weeks (though it is taifun season.) Brigie is happy to have her food bowls here and even more happy to have her brush - got some good brownie points time with her this afternoon heehee.
We also now have our computers and on the 11th of July we will have desks to put them on - yay! I can't wait to have sofas and a TV stand for this ridiculously huge (and yet the third biggest we could have chosen) flatscreen TV they've given us. I've been watching as many melodramas as I can find that aren't actually Korean or Chinese because they speak slowly and repeat everything over and over to each other hehe. However I have to admit our favourite TV experience still looks more like this:
Damn Colbert and Stewart are on their two weeks off which they seem to take every three weeks at the moment though :( lol
So, as promised though a little late, here is a virtual tour of the inside of our new digs - not hugely interesting for many but just the sort of thing I was hoping to find when I was hunting for info on moving here the last few months so here goes.
Welcome! This is our little genkan (entrance way) where everyone will leave their shoes so as not to track dirt inside or damage the floors. This is probably the most "Japanese" part of the whole house - at least traditionally, the place is filled with very modern Japanese house-gadgets but I'll get to them later.
To the left of the entrance is this lovely shoe closet, again very normal in Japan but different for us. What I can't show you is that the shoe cupboard smells wonderful! It seems to be impregnated with some kind of wood oil - makes total sense of course, shoes being shoes, but was a nice surprise.
This is the kitchen window (to the left of where I was standing to take the above picture and looking out onto the entrance porch) it is a sliding door and so it can be left open if you are expecting visitors or just to let air through - at around 4 each afternoon I turn off the air-con and open up and get a wonderful breeze through the whole house.
And this is the cute galley kitchen (looking a lot neater than it is today with all my cooking utensils all over the bench.) The little window below the stove is a fish grill - ovens are fairly unusual in Japan unless it's a really swish place or one of the houses important holus-bolus from the States. We have a dual microwave-convection oven which will likely get some use in winter as a conventional oven if we start to crave a roast chicken or lamb tandoori or some such.
But this shot is tastefully hiding something...
THE RUBBISH!! Anyone who has looked into living in Japan will have come across someone lamenting the complexity of recycling here - and it's true! First you must use the bags from your local supermarket as the marking on the bags include which council you are in so you'd best not shop near work if you work far away. Then you have to separate the burnables and organics (red printed bag) from non-burnables (like old cameras or leather gloves - green printed bag) and then the recyclables must be separated into different blueprinted bags - PET bottles together in one, paper and cardboard into another, tins and cans in another and then plastics that aren't PET (called pura) into another - oh and all glass jars and bottles or steel cans into baskets out front without bags. Almost everything has little symbols on to help you out and some packaging is quite complex as, for example, a PET bottle may have a pura label which must be cut off and of course the lid is also pura. I actually had to go out and buy a pair of scissors so I could do the rubbish! At the moment we are getting mounds of pura since we are eating from the wonderful fresh bento you can get from the supermarkets until we have the facilities to cook.
So there you go - if anyone in Australia doesn't recycle because it's too much trouble then there's a different perspective for you. What happens if you get it wrong? Well, there are no fines but your rubbish won't be collected if the men see the wrong thing through the clear plastic bag and it may just end up on your doorstep with a stern admonition from the neighbourhood "Queen Bee" - we haven't met our yet but I'm happy to believe there is one and do everything to avoid her lol!
So, back to the tour.
This is what is known as our LD (Living/Dining) (this view is from beside the fridge.) It's a great space and should have plenty of room for the two two seater sofas we have coming and a dining setting we will buy later so we can have people to dinner. You can see the monster air-con unit which cools the whole downstairs beautifully and also the doors that I open up for the wonderful tropical breeze - no issue with privacy as the wall of the terrace is one story tall.
A note about renting in Japan: most places will require you to provide not only your own air conditioner (which will be vital) also window coverings and even light fittings - so be prepared. We are paying a little more for our place than we intended but, unusually, it included all of those things AND basic fibre optic internet AND parking in the rent with no monthly maintenance fee (also usually required) so the extra monthly rent was totally worth it. Definitely something to look out for :)
If you look carefully on the shadowy orange wall on the left of frame in the picture above, you can see two white panels, one is the light dimmer and the other is one of the house gadgets - it's basically just the hot water control BUT it has a button on it which will automatically fill the bath upstairs for you! Lovely idea though you still have to go upstairs to put the plug in so... hmmm
Looking back from the glass doors you can see down the hallway to the front door and the stairs. Under the stairs there is a small powder room with an ingenious toilet with a hand basin fitted above the cistern and makes use of the clean water that comes in to fill the cistern by routing it through the tap wash your hands with before it goes down into the cistern. There is also a little laundry with a washing machine which sings to me as it starts and finishes a load and is also a dryer (though it crushes everything almost beyond ironing!)
But there's something missing in this picture...
Ah, that's better. Brigid has decided that her Japanese persona will be "the cat upon the stair". I'm not sure what she likes about it, maybe it's because neither of us can sneak upstairs or down without her knowing where we are or perhaps it's the point the air-con hits with it's monster fans but she seems to love it.
At the top of the stairs and straight ahead is our study (or will be when the furniture arrives.) You can see how lovely and light it is and how green the view. This was the room that sold me on the place (and allowed me to put the big orange "feature" wall behind me hehe.) The top three windows open wide and you can get a good breeze through the top floor, too.
This is a close up of the view, you can see that across our little step-street is a traditional house - I will put my desk at the window so that it can inspire me! No excuse not to sit at the desk and write everyday with a view like that! I am fairly sure that the trees on the right of the photo are prunus trees so I can't wait till next Spring to find out!!
Boring orientation shot - this is from the study door looking past the bathroom door on the right to the bedroom.
This is our oddly large bathroom, well half of it, and here the gadgets really begin - yes as you can see below we have an automatic flushing toilet with a bidet - no heated seat, though, at least not that we've worked out lol!
This is the other half of the bathroom: the shower which is actually more a a big wet-room with a bath in it. The Japanese have a stool beside the bath and a large bowl which they fill and then wash from before getting into the wonderfully deep bath for a good, mind & muscle relax. We mostly just stand and shower - switching on the water and letting it run on the floor takes some getting used to! I've never been into baths but I'm getting into them here - after all it's the most comfortable place in the house at the moment! I must get myself some good onsen salts soon.
The panel on the wall near the bath is a wonderful house gadget - it is connected to the one downstairs and also has an auto fill button. Up here you can set the water level you want and the temperature you want and it MAINTAINS THAT TEMPERATURE FOR AS LONG AS YOU ARE IN THE BATH. The fiddling with taps to try to keep a bath warm is the main reason I've never been a bath person and this feature is what has won me over. There is a "warm up" button, too, so you can start the bath cooler then reset the temperature to warmer if you like.
And the last house gadget I'll rave about is also in the shower room. See the rods over the bath in the picture above with towels hanging from them? Well, with the use of special monster-sized versions of the clever little things you can hang on a line or clothes rack with multiple pegs on them from which you can hang socks and smalls, you can hang at least a couple of loads of washing in there and dry them beautifully!
Here is a shot of the water-proof shower door when it's closed and you can see the panel just to the right of it above the light switch.
Here's a close up - the wonderful relocation consultants have put little white labels with English translations on all the appliances for us.
This snazzy little machine keeps the shower room ventilated at all times but also allows you to push a button to warm the room in winter, dry the room and bath (and your towels at the same time) after bathing or you can push another button for "clothes drying" whatever is hanging on the rails - either cool air or warm air as you wish - set the timer for anything from half to 12 hours and Bob's-your-uncle!
If you're looking for a place in Japan I highly recommend getting one of these. In the Summer you will be showering almost every time you return to the house - that's lots of laundry and lots of towels if they haven't dried since your morning shower!
And finally the bedroom, view not as good but there is a little green and it is wonderfully light, though you want to keep your blinds closed to the heat till the afternoon.
And, to come full circle, here is the view of our little terrace from the bedroom window.
We are very happy here - it should be the perfect place to spend a couple of years, in fact, I reckon it will be hard to leave - but then, I'm currently in the Euphoria stage of the culture shock cycle so bring on the roller coaster LOL!!