Tag Archives: moving

Life in Japan: A Return to Japan

Another week, another question. This time, would I return to Japan with my family? Check out my answer.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

Last week, we went to a festival and my daughter had the opportunity to meet Ultraman, who is a famous hero on TV.  We had no time, unfortunately, and ever since, she’s been asking when we can return to see Ultraman. That I have no answer to. But I do have an answer to my next question, which was asked by S. R. Carrillo.

Would you ever return? Or plan to – with your daughter?

20150511-000719-439675.jpg Posing in front of Ultraman…but he’s so far away!

A return to live or a return to visit? Well, the answer to the first is that we don’t have plans to return to live with our daughter, but I’d be open to it after she’s grown up, most likely. Even so, there’s still a possibility we could return sometime to live in Japan. It’s just too difficult to say for now.

As for visiting, absolutely…

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10 Things I Will Miss About Japan

Moving to Canada next year makes me think about what I’ll miss in Japan. Too many things for a list of 10, but here’s my list.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

320px-Flag_of_Japan.svg10 years in Japan means Japan feels like home.  But in a year, we’ll be living in Canada. Of course, I’m going to miss a lot about Japan. Maybe I won’t know what I’ll miss until we’ve been in Canada for a while, but I’ll make some predictions here.  This is what I think I’ll miss about Japan.

1. Sushi and Sashimi

It seems I talk a lot about food. I love sushi and sashimi.  Sure, I can get it in Canada, but it’s not nearly as good as the sushi and sashimi in Japan.

2. Temples and Shrines

I love the old architecture, and I really enjoy visiting temples and shrines.  Can’t do that in Canada.

3. The Weather

I prefer Japanese weather.  Winter is warmer than in Canada.  Summer is very hot and humid, but I’m so used to it, Canadian summer nights will feel cold.

4. Seasonal…

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I may not be doing Picture of the Week this week

Sorry, but I’m going through a difficult situation with the company that owns the apartment I’m supposed to be finishing moving out of by December 13th.  Long story short, they entered my apartment 3 days early and changed the locks.  I still have possessions in the apartment, including some very important personal belongings.  I won’t be in any mood to post the picture of the week if it’s not resolved tomorrow.

Update: Everything has been resolved.  I will be able to resume packing and cleaning  in my old apartment tomorrow.

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Driving in Japan

Yesterday, I moved most of my things from my old apartment in Kamakura to my new one in Fujisawa.  Instead of getting a moving company, which would have cost over 20,000 yen, I decided renting a car may be a better choice.  Only 6,000 yen!  The distance between my old and new apartments is about 12km.  Not bad.  It shouldn’t take too long, I thought.  I estimated about 3 trips back and forth to transport all of my belongings.  Well, let’s just say I had a bit of an adventure.

My girlfriend and I arrived at the car rental agency at around 11:30 in the morning.  We’d rented a Suzuki Swift, although it turned out to be a Chevrolet (same car, though).  With my driver’s license and a utility bill showing my address, I could rent the car.  We had 8 hours to use the car.  We also rented a car navigation system, which is absolutely essential with the randomly oriented roads in Japan.  Many things are opposite to what I was used to in Canada.  The driver sits on the right side and you drive on the left side in Japan.  The turn signal is on the right side of the steering column, and I had to shift with my left hand (actually, I had an automatic).  The ignition, accelerator and brakes were in their correct places, though.  I’m glad they were the same!

As we pulled out of the car rental agency, I had very little time to get used to the mirror image style of driving.  Luckily, it didn’t take long.  I quickly adjusted and actually felt comfortable within a few minutes.  I drove along Wakamiya Oji, which I’d visited last spring, past Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, then north toward Ofuna.  It wasn’t too bad.  The traffic seemed to be okay, as well.  In very little time, we arrived at my old apartment, where I loaded the car with boxes.  So far, so good.

I had no idea how to use the car navigation system, so my girlfriend programmed it for the new apartment.  The system sp0ke the directions to me, told me when to turn, how long until the next corner to turn at, and so on.  I found it to be relatively easy to understand.  Crossing the tracks near Ofuna station proved to be difficult.  I had a blind corner at an uncontrolled intersection, and it wasn’t easy to turn there.  But I made it, and we were on our way.  Except for one wrong turn, this trip proved to be pretty uneventful.  It took about 35-40 minutes to get to the new apartment.  After unloading everything, we had internet and cable TV hooked up, and I was off again back to my old apartment.

The trip back to my old apartment was mostly uneventful, except that traffic was a bit slower.  It took around 50 minutes to arrive.  I loaded the car again, and was on my way.  Or so I thought.  I ran into a problem.  I didn’t know how to use the car navigation system to get back to the new apartment.  A few calls to my girlfriend and a few pictures taken of the screen, I finally figured out in 15 minutes.  By this time, it was already 5pm.  If I was going to make a third trip, I’d be pushing it for time.  So, I was finally on my way to take the same route back.  Unfortunately, that blind, uncontrolled intersection proved to be completely impassable.  I could not turn, as no one would let me in.  I couldn’t see traffic coming from one direction, so I couldn’t just go out into the intersection and block all traffic.  Not only that, the direction I wanted to go, that traffic was not moving at all!  So, I decided to turn left instead, and the navigation system plotted a new route.  As I travelled along this new route, it was taking me a bit farther south than I’d hoped, but I guess this was the only way.  I then started going north when I was in western Kamakura, and all I had were main roads to drive on now.  No more narrow streets!  Unfortunately, this route took me directly through downtown Fujisawa.  Traffic nightmare!  The traffic was so slow, it took me an hour to travel only 2 km!  Once I was past downtown Fujisawa, the traffic improved drastically, and I had no problems.  But by the time I’d arrived at the new apartment, it was so late that there was no time for a 3rd trip.  Defeated, we decided to return the car to the rental agency.

Our drive back to Kamakura was easier, and we encountered less traffic.  We returned the car at 7:15pm, with only 45 minutes to spare.  I still have things to take to my new apartment.  I’ll have to do that by train and bus or taxi over the next week.

So, what do I think about driving in Japan?  Adjusting to the different side was much easier than I thought.  I got used to it very quickly, and it felt like second nature to me in a very short period of time.  Driving is not a problem!  The traffic is something I don’t like in Japan.  It’s slow!  No wonder people prefer to take the train.  The narrow roads are a bit nerve-wracking at first, with people riding bicycles (one of them was swerving so much, I thought he would hit the car), cars parked along the side of the road and blocking half of the traffic, and all the blind corners.  The route was a zigzagging course through the two cities, and sometimes it was difficult to know where I was.  North American cities have road systems that are grids.  Easy to navigate, and easy to find an address.  Japanese cities are not made for cars, so there are a lot of narrow, winding roads with no sense of order.  It’s like a cobweb.  I don’t envy the people who have to drive every day to get to work.  Their commute is incredibly long.  That’s why I’m going to stick to trains for my everyday commute.  I will drive on occasion, when I need to, though.  It’s just the traffic that’s too much, especially in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Have you experienced driving in Japan?

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I’m moving! (plus holiday notice)

I’ve been living in Kamakura for more than 4 years now, but in 2 weeks, I’ll be moving to the Shonandai area of Fujisawa.  It’s not far from where I live now, but it’ll be a lot closer to where I work.  I currently live in company housing, but will be moving to a very nice apartment.  So, for the next 2 or 3 weeks, I’ll be busy packing and cleaning.  Then, at the end of December, I’m going to Canada for a holiday.  I intend to continue posting the Picture of the Week the entire time, though.  If I can, I’ll post more, but I won’t guarantee it.  But keep checking back!  In the new year, I’m going to do some major work on transfering all my photos from my old computer to my current computer.  This means I’ll have easier access to the many hundreds of photos I’ve taken up until the end of last year, and I can finally get some good work done on this blog.  This is only the beginning!

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