I arrived at about 2pm on Monday, September 12th. As soon as I got off the plane, I speed-walked as politely as I could to get to customs and immigration quickly, as the last time I arrived, it was about a 45 minute or more wait. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, I guess, since the flight date was September 11th), the line was quite short and I made it through. I then waited for my two overweight bags and anxiously anticipated my final check-point through a supposedly-bag-checking customs agent. I got them, took a deep breath, and breezed past the point. From then on, I knew I was in!!! I used ANA's Sky Porter to have my two bursting bags sent to my guest house. The attendant didn't know much English, but we muddled through it together. He was very patient with me, which I ALWAYS appreciate. And, since I was a mileage card holder, I think I got a reduced rate, which is always a bonus! I then headed for the train platform to meet up with my housing agent.
I met the super friendly and helpful housing agent at my main train station. I was immediately excited because my area looked (and is) really cool and vibrant. We chatted a bit while we walked to the place, knowing it was a straight shot from the station since I Google Street Viewed it about a million times. I was full of hope and ready to start off right!!! Now, when I was told I was going to be living in what the Japanese call a "guest house", I was picturing something more along the lines of a dorm: communal spaces, semi-furnished room, etc. Well, while that's the case with many places, I was not fortunate enough to have gotten that privilege. We walked to the building (which was actually the one to the left of the one Google Street View showed me) and climbed the stairs to the 4th floor. With each passing step, the stairs got narrower and steeper. My first thought was how much of a pain it was going to be to have to carry my 140lbs worth of luggage up there, unassisted (thankfully the nice porter who delivered them for me took on that challenge). I soon realized this wasn't going to be a dorm-like situation. We finally reached the 4th floor which opens up to a balcony. It seemed very nice and quaint. But then, we got to my actual guest house. To describe it best, it would have to be like a 4 roomed apartment with each room gutted and rented out separately. But this is not a "Western" apartment. This is a Tokyo apartment. First walking in, I immediately saw the kitchen. I was really looking forward to cooking a lot while I'm here, but the standing area in the kitchen allowed for one to merely pivot while cooking something. Oh well, I thought, I can deal, Then, we came to my room. It took him a bit to get the lock undone, but when he finally opened the door, I died a little inside.
While I don't have a tape measure to actually give a proper size, I'd estimate that it's 8ftx8ft (or 4.5 tatami mats, as advertised on their website). The only furnishings it had were a very nice refrigerator with a freezer, a pointless and space consuming coat rail that I instantly hated, a box containing my futon I was promised, and "sofa bed". I was horrified. While the "sofa bed" (a thick mattress that can be laid flat like a bed or folded into different positions like a sofa) is surprisingly cool, I have no shelves, no dressers, no closets, no storage space whatsoever. I have no way of unpacking as I have nowhere to put anything. My room is a total disaster right now with a bleak foreseeable future.
Let me put this into perspective. I'm really happy and grateful to have a place in Tokyo and to just be in Tokyo in general. But I do not think I can live her any longer than I have to. It feels like a prison cell. I've talked to a lot of my friends and family and they keep saying "Oh, well, spruce it up and make it homey!" but there is absolutely no way right now to do that. I'll have to invest in some sort of dresser for sure and I really really need a desk. My back is dying from the awkward positions I've sat in to use the computer. Gahhh, how desperately do I need Wal-Mart in Japan.
I'm actively seeking new living quarters right now. I am desperately pleading for my friends living in Japan to give me some sort of advice on what to do. I have a contract to the end of the year. Save me ;o;