Now that we are settled into our new
apartment near the Sasazuka train station in Setagaya-ku, it is time to provide a visual description of where we live. It is a far cry from the 12th story abode in Philadelphia, but it isn’t too different from your traditional American apartment. Of course, there are some discernible Japanese traits.
This is the view of our apartment building from the park across the street. Since our building is owned by the government (and thus our rent is subsidized by the taxpayers), they make it a point to make the apartment buildings as drab as possible, so as not to piss anyone off. The building was built in 1977, and is considered old in Japanese terms.
This is the view of the park from our front patio. If you look at the prior picture, our apartment is the unit on the third (top) floor on the furthest right. It was our preference to be on the top floor to avoid noise and snoopy passerby and because we get a cool breeze on muggy days.
The living/dining room. This is relatively big compared to most Japanese apartments. The tile floor is brand new, and our furniture is from Lisa’s old efficiency apartment in Nakano.
The view from the living room into the bedrooms when the sliding doors are open. The room on the left is the office and to the right is the master bedroom. Both the living room and the office open up to the balcony.
This is what it looks like when everything is buttoned up.
The master bedroom. Lisa had a single bed in her old efficiency that doesn’t quite fit the both of us, so we bought an identical bed to fit side by side. The closet goes the length of the room. However, it has no shelves or clothing racks, so we had to buy a rack and storage cupboards. Of course the first clothing rack I bought didn’t work, so we had to special order a second one. And when I say “we” special ordered a new one, I mean “Lisa” ordered a new one.
This is the third bedroom, aka the “guest room,” though it will remain empty until we collect more junk/necessities. The Japanese measure the rooms in “tatame,” which is the material that covers the floor. Tatame is made of hay, and some Japanese sleep directly on the tatame, or just put a thin futon mattress on the floor. It is quite comfortable. The guest room is 4 1/2 tatame, while the other two bedrooms are 6 tatame. Each tatame measures 170 cm x 85 cm. I don’t know how big that actually is. You do the math. I’ve been drinking.
Here is the kitchen, which leads directly off of the living/dining room. We had to furnish the fridge, which was Lisa’s from her old apartment. The sink is a single big tub with no disposal. We have to put a net in the drain to catch the larger chunks, then we replace the net regularly. There is a 2-burner gas stove that heats shit up real quick. It also has a special drawer to grill fish that I don’t know if I will ever use. If I do use it, then I have truly become one with the Japanese way of life. The cupboards are pretty high. About 6-feet high as I can lightly raise my toes and hit my head on the bottom. We will have to get a stool once we accumulate more dishes. You may also notice there is a fan built into the wall that leads directly outside.
The bathroom sink is in the hallway that leads to the guest room and the toilet. The toiletry area is small, and pink.
The toilet is your average toilet, except the room is the size of a broom closet. I was hoping we would have one of those high-tech toilets that checks your weight and blood pressure and comes with a bidet… but at least it’s not a hole in the ground. I picked out the curtain myself.
This is the bathtub/shower room, the one room that is distinctly Japanese, and has taken me the longest to get used to. The floor is concrete, and the shower drain is on the floor. There is a small shower head attached to the hose on the left side of the picture. When bathing, you shower first and then get in the tub. The tub water is shared by every member of the household. The tube is approximately 2×3 feet, and just over 2 feet deep. When you empty the tub, the water pours out onto the floor and it is like 3 inches deep as it empties down the drain. Also, the fan in the window leads directly outside. It already gets a little cool in the room at night, so it is a bit concerning what it will be like in the winter. We’ll let the nipples be the gauge.
This is the balcony. It is designed for hanging laundry. It will be hard to relax in a lounge chair smoking a stogie while sipping on Suntory whiskey. Oh well. You can hang a lot of laundry out there. You didn’t see it in prior pictures, but we do have a washing machine, just no dryer. Thus, you see my skivvies flappin’ in the wind.
This is the neighborhood park across the street. Local volunteers clean up, trim shrubs and whatnot every weekend. Compared to the other parks in the area, ours is the best.
Here is the playground in the park. A lot of local elementary and preschools bring the kids here to play. A lot of times I am awoken to sounds of these little brats singing songs and playing games. I mean, it’s a great way to wake up. Who doesn’t enjoy waking up to a sunny day to the sounds of children’s voices? I tend to avoid this area of the park as to not be mistaken for a pedophile.
Here is the Shinto shrine located adjacent to the park. It’s pretty cool. I think you are supposed to come here to meditate, or something.
This is the trail that leads from the park to the train station. It is a short 5-minute walk. Next to the trail is a ravine with a stream. The stream has been providing water to the neighborhood for over 300 years, at least that is what my translator/wife says.
Here is the Sasazuka train station. It is nothing too exciting, but I thought my mom might want to know what it looks like.
Here is the grocery store (called Life). Once again, not too exciting, but Mom asked where we buy our groceries, and so here it is. There are a lot of bikes. People ride bikes everywhere and you really have to be on the look out.
This is a shopping area not too far from the train station. There are lots of little produce markets, hair salons, dry cleaners, restaurants, etc. It is nice because it is pedestrians only. When you turn the corner a little ways down there is a fish market and the smell makes me gag a little every time I walk by. Better get used to it.
Here is the nearby depaato (department store). The picture doesn’t really do justice as to how big it is. It is basically our Target, which is nice because in Philly the Target was too far away.
This is the pharmacy located kitty-corner to the department store. When we first moved in we came here a lot for toilet paper, cleaning supplies, detergents, you name it. I was excited because they had the Mach 3 razor blades I use.
This is the beginning of a walking trail that is nearby our apartment. Earlier today I walked as far as I could go on the trail. 45 minutes later I ended up at the Meiji-Jingu Shrine, which is a large forested area in the middle of Tokyo, and is ranked by the government as the most important shrine in Japan.
That concludes the journey of our neighborhood. I will finish with a view from our balcony of the back parking lot. Thank you for joining us today and may you have safe travels home.