A Travellerspoint blog

Our Apartment and Juso

Disclaimer: this one is long and rambling. Get out while you still can. You've been warned.

Well, I decided to devote an entire entry to the apartment and the area we live in. Now that it's pretty well set up, I feel more comfortable talking about it.

For those of you who are interested and/or have Google Earth, we live at:
34 42 54 N
135 28 45 E

Here is a screen shot of our apartment.

Apartment.jpg

We live in an area of Osaka called Juso. It is sort of a red light district of Osaka. There are lots of strip clubs and everytime a student asks where we live and we say Juso, they give us a look and nod. For Japan, this is unsafe area. But, we have never had any concerns at all, neither one of us has felt unsafe at all. The definition of unsafe is completely different than in Canada. Our students usually say "Oh Juso. (pause) That's really convenient." The nice thing is that it is extremely central to everything. It takes us less than an hour to get to Kyoto, Kobe or downtown Osaka. One thing that is really nice is we live less than five minutes from Yodgawa River. It is a really nice area that gives a gorgeous view of the Osaka skyline over the water and also has banks that are high enough so you don't see all the buildings. Just the really tall ones. So it makes it seem like you aren't in as crowded of an area. Along the river there are many different baseball diamonds and soccer fields, as well as a path that everyone seems to walk there little dogs. I think Osaka is the little dog capital of the world. Paco and Abby could make lots of friends. (well, maybe Paco. Abby could probably eat lots of other dogs.)

Yodogawa 1.jpg Yodogawa 2.jpg Yodogawa 3.jpg Yodogawa 4.jpg

For those of you wondering how so many people can live in Japan here are a couple pictures. The first one is of three apartment buildings about a block away from ours. They have to be at least the size of Park Vic. The second one is the space between our building and our neighbour's building.

Osaka Buildings 1.jpg Osaka Buildings 2.jpg

Our Apartment

Our entryway: there's a storage unit for shoes, which you're supposed to remove prior to entering the rest of the apartment. Next to that is our garbage can, and then another storage unit, which houses the first aid kit, bulk toiletries, hand towels, important documents (bills, insurance, etc), a minimal tool and sewing kit, as well as some bubble wrap (for mailing things or for destressing, whichever comes first).

Entry.jpg

The bathroom tryptic: entering the apartment to your left is the bathroom area. There's a room with a Japanese-style bath/shower. You have to step down into it about 2.5 feet. I'm not sure how I do it without pulling a muscle or wiping out everyday. Thankfully this room also has a small window for ventilation. We figured out that the reason the shower room had such a foul stench after we moved in was because we weren't leaving this window open. The shower door opens directly into the rest of the bathroom area, facing the wall-mounted sink. We managed to find a set of plastic storage drawers narrow enough to fit in right beside the sink, and tall enough to serve as counter space. In the bathroom area, the shower is to the left, the sink to the right, and the toilet room straight ahead. This is far more convenient that I though it would be, because someone can be in the shower, and someone else can use the sink, while a third can be using the toilet. Genius! The only time water temperature is affected is if you run the kitchen sink while someone is in the shower. Not fun. Anyhow, the closet-sized toilet room. It's about 3cm lower than the neighbouring area, so again, you have to step down. The toilet is sort of in two pieces: a corner mounted tank with a faucet, connected to the throne on the floor. The flush switch is on the tank. You can push it to the left or to the right, each labelled with a different character. I am not sure if they do two different things, but things are gone after both so I`m not too worried about the technicalities at this point. The only thing is is you don't leave the switch in a perfectly vertical orientation when you leave, the tank will keep running. We found a shelf that expands to fit a space up to 120cm wide (yeah, the toilet room isn't quite that wide). We can now store toilet paper and facial tissue in there.

(Cultural note: to take a bath in Japan, you fill up the tub with hot water, and rinse yourself off woth the showerhead before getting into the tub. The you soak in water that comes up to your neck. This part is awesome. The only drawback that I can see is this: you can`t stretch out your legs. You have to sit cross-legged. And the bath uses a lot of water, so you have to share the water with other people that have bathed before you. But this really shouldn`t be that bad because everyone is supposed to wash up and rinse off before getting in the tub.)

(another cultural note: the toilet is viewed as extremely dirty. The theory is that if you go in the bathroom(the shower) to get clean, why would you have the dirty toilet there. So it got put in it's own room.)

bathroom.jpg Sink.jpg Toilet.jpg

The kitchen: when you enter the apartment, it's immediately to your right. When we moved in, I had no idea what I was going to do. They provided us with one very small pan, and an even smaller pot. Not sure how you're supposed to cook a meal for two with those things. Needless to say, we at a lot of restaurants at first (thankfully we found some rather inexpensive ones. You could eat out for as much as we were spending at the grocery store. But then we found a cheaper grocery store...). Then we got paid, and we bought a substantial pot and frying pan. Now I can actually make use of those two gas burners we have. When I build a house, I am getting a gas stove. It's awesome. We had a bit of an issue because for the first week we couldn't figure out how to get the thing lit, because no one told us that the regulator switch had to be aligned with the supply hose. But now it's gold. Under the burners there is a tiny broiler that only half works to toast bread and bagels, and it doesn't work at all when cooking other things. There is no oven, which really sucks. For a while we didn't have any counter space for prepping or even putting things on. We then bought a storage rack with a small counter space so now I can be efficient. It also allowed us to move the microwave from the top of the fridge to under the counter. There is a little shelf on top to store the coffee maker and the rice cooker (both of which we purchased ourselves). This little storage/counter unit is one of the best investments. Next to this rack is the fridge (just a little bigger than a bar fridge, but really all we need), and then the kitchen table (which used to wobble, but newspaper and tape fixed it up).

Kitchen.jpg

The living room: past the bathroom on your left. When we moved in, there was a loveseat-sized couch, a coffee table, a TV/DVD combo unit on a tiny media rack, and a TV table with a folding chair in the corner. We went out and bought a rug, a lamp that clamps to the coffee table, and lots of plants. The apartment looks like a jungle now. I repotted all of them the other day with some soil I had delivered from CostCo. There are 2 floor plants, 3 medium table plants, and a couple of small vines with potential; we got them all for less than ¥5000 (about CDN$50). Major improvement after the plants were brought in. The laptop and iPod make their home on the small table in the `office` (ie the corner). We bought a couple of speakers and a small desk lamp, as well as some Wally ties to keep all the cables and wires neatly bundled. The internet was finally hooked up last week, so things are finally coming together. Not sure why it took so long: all they did was drop off the box and we set it up ourselves.

Living Room.jpgLiving Room 2.jpg

The bedroom: it's the only other room. Behind sliding panel doors it our tatami-mat bedroom. You're not supposed to wear anything but sock feet in here. In this room is the bed (almost a double bed), a bookshelf next to the bed, a closet, a shelf I bought to house my sweaters, the remote powered A/C-heater unit, and the sliding doors leading to our tiny deck (one third the size of all the other decks on our floor).

bedroom 1.jpgBedroom 2.jpg

The laundry room (or our deck): most people's washing machines are outside on their decks. That way the water can just drain down through a pipe and directly outside. We also have our drying rack out there. It took us a while, but we eventually figured out that if we hang all of our clothes out on hangers they will dry better and we can hang more out. We have a fantastic view of the houses across the street, between which there is a tiny gap where we catch a glimpse of the Osaka skyline.

Laundry Room 1.jpg Laundry Room 2.jpg

Posted by agc_cwm 23:05 Archived in Japan

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