…And the middle too!

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No time to post, but enough important stuff is happening that I found a way to squeeze it in. Perhaps skipping dinner and sleep is not a good path though. Recently I have been teaching people about “burning the candle at both ends”. I think I might also teach them the add-on: “and the middle, too.”

Woke up late this morning and felt pretty bad about getting to work late: that’s twice now. I was able to teach all six periods, but don’t like the impression that is left by showing up late. This was my last official visit to that school, so this was my last chance to leave a good (or bad) impression. During lunch I sat with the principal and explained to him several of the things that are keeping me over-occupied. He was very kind about it and then pulled out some shuji books and discussed them with me. Last week I found out that he studies every week, and all of the event signs at the school are painted by him; whereas, other schools typically use a computer.

Last night I put 60,000 yen down on a rental house and filled out an application. The total closing costs are 360,000 yen for a 61,000 yen/month apartment. The system in Japan is a bit different. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that they can wait until the 20th of the month to collect rent. It is also something that keeps people from moving around a lot.

Another difference is the fact that discrimination is perfectly acceptable. If a landlord doesn’t want to rent to a foreigner, there is no legal requirement to do so. My realtor contacted the landlord last night and was very submissive and gentle when he was explaining what kind of foreigner was hoping to rent the house. The connection was very loud, so I could hear her speech clearly. She seemed like she was tiring of the kowtow and very directly asked, “Well, what is his name?”

Upon hearing the response, she said, “Oh! Yes, he’s a friend of the Sakamoto’s and studies shuji at the Nishi Furukawa Chapter.” Let me just say, it is nice to be well-known (and respected).

We had a little hiccup because a guarantor is required; my city councilmember friend, who I was hoping would fill this role, has been incommunicado lately. I tried to contact a local tofu factory owner and a construction company owner with no luck as well. I finally reached my contact who is a law professor and he quickly agreed. My thinking is that important, recognized members of society make more impressive guarantors.

Ironically, the construction company owner emailed me later on my cell. He is a Rotary member and wants me to speak Monday for his chapter. In my spare time I will decide what to speak on and get prepared – if only I had spare time.

The house is a 15 minute bus ride from Tsu-Shinmachi station; however, I think it would take me 15 minutes or less to walk there also. By bike it is probably 4 minutes. This is a much better location than where I am now for catching later or faster trains. It has three rooms of 6 tatami mats in size (approx. 3.6m x 2.7m). One room has a western-style floor and built-in bookshelves with sliding doors to hide them. It can be entered directly from the inviting genkan; a perfect location for my home office/classroom. The two tatami rooms are very traditional with one containing a tokonoma, alcove normally used for placing flower arrangements and hanging inspirational calligraphy: a perfect room for practicing my shuji. The dining room/kitchen is also large enough to accomodate a table.

In back there is a shed large enough to protect my bike and a covered area big enough to park motorcycles. In front there is parking for two (or four?) cars. The house is not the nicest construction and about 18 years old, but the interior is decent and the layout serves my needs well. I wanted to check a higher price range to see if I could find something closer to the station and newer, but the realtor refused to show me anything in that price range. Perhaps I will explain that in more detail another time; if so, I can also explain a very bad experience with another realty company.

On Sunday I worked as stage crew for an annual international festival. I was asked to dance on stage at the end, so I might appear on TV again with my two left feet. One of the flamenco dancers was very elegant and invited me to visit her circle of friends in Matsusaka. Maybe I need to brush up on my Spanish. She was tall, elegant, and personable: definitely the kind of person who leaves an impression.

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