Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Don't get too excited, boys and girls... I don't actually know how to write katakana or kanji yet... this is just the Almighty Google's work. And it only says 'Section 5.'

So today was a very important day! I was registered as an Alien! OOOOOOOOOHHhh.... yeah. My guest house landlord guy, Sugiyama-san (Sugi), drove me to the government building where it was all gonna go down. My roommates told me that it was best to go with him for several reasons;

1) The place is almost impossible to find. Sugi goes there every month for paperwork, and he says he gets lost almost every time. It's only available to the naked eye on the full moon when Jupiter is in the 14th house, or something.

2) Although the government office deals almost exclusively with foreigners becoming registered citizens, NO ONE SPEAKS ENGLISH. Useful.

3) Sugi's a pretty cool guy. He's trying to learn a new language (French) all on his own. I can relate.

4) I don't have a fourth thing!

So after the standard bureaucratic process of filling out forms and waiting, and then filling out more forms and waiting some more, I got this;
Now I can get an account with the bank, get a SIM card for my phone, and vote, if I took any interest in local politics.

The most interesting part of the whole experience was trying to explain to Sugi why being called an alien was funny. It took about 15 minutes, but I eventually got a chuckle out of him when I resorted to blurting out 'UFO! E.T.!' I think he might have been laughing AT, not WITH. Moving on...

I was planning on going to Shinjuku (an area north of where I live in Tokyo) today to check out a bunch of local scenery, but I ran out of daylight. My iPhone camera does not take pictures at night very well. So I took a walk down to the Seiyu to get some food for dinner. This was my walk;
As I said before, there are tons of people that wear masks ALL THE TIME. More on this later.
This camera doesn't really demonstrate the twinkling streetlights in the sunset as I had hoped. Please use your imagination.
Another Japanese 'thing' is the bicycle. Everyone has one, to go along with their paper mask and an umbrella. Because they're considered a daily necessity, bicycles are actually quite cheap here. The ones outside that store were going for 2500 yen (about $28).
                                                       PICTURES OF FOOD!!!!!!!!!!1!!!Most of the cheaper restaurants have plastic models of their popular dishes in the window to 'entice' customers. Yeah... I prefer to smell food more than look at it for it's edibility. But then again, when the description of a dish includes the pound sign and an ampersand... pictures are appreciated.

This place was lit up an over zealous christmas tree. This is a chain store that caters only to gamblers and gamers. Nothing but shiny flashing lights and nintendo sound effects in this joint. I took a tentative look inside, and it was 80% DDR and pokemon, 20% slot machines.

Don't really know what I was trying to capture with this photo, but it gives me an opportunity to point out the sidewalks. Where I would assume everything to be concrete, you occasionally get tile or a spongy cork... interesting....

So then I bought dinner, and this mug;
I needed a mug, and this one was 50 yen. It was also AWESOME.

To make my voyages into the subway system easier, my roommates bought me this;
It's a swipe card for the turnstiles, so I never have to battle with the ticket machine ever again. My Canadian roommate explained it to me in ways I could understand. "It's like the Tim Horton's pay-as-you-go card. No fumbling with money."

So today wasn't very photograph-oriented, but I still made some headway in becoming settled here. Tomorrow I'm going to go play tourist some more and go to the Emperor's castle and gardens on the other side of the city.


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