Tokyo Part 2 & a little Gifu

I forgot to mention that when i moved to Tokyo, my rental van was apparently never confirmed, so I ended up somehow cramming just about everything into my tiny little car and driving the 6 hours to Tokyo from Mizuho CIty. Here I am just before driving away from Mizuho:

Nissan March, moving with a small car

The new teachers in Mizuho let me borrow their car for a day to drive all my stuff to Tokyo!

It was a perfect spring morning, clear sky, and I couldn’t be more excited to move. Mount Fuji greeted me as I got closer to Tokyo (my first clear sighting of the whole thing!! I thought Mt. Fuji was welcoming me to Tokyo, and maybe it was, but I think it was also saying goodbye (or ‘see you later!’ as I prefer…) since I wouldn’t really get another chance to see it again (until the next time I visit. :P)

Mt Fuji from the highway

Mt Fuji from the highway on the way to Tokyo.

Searching for a home in Tokyo
When I was looking for an apartment, all the agencies wanted me to come back with a Japanese friend, which made the hunt very slow in the beginning, but once my boss called a local branch of an agency, and spoke with them, they seemed much more willing to help, though they eventually referred me to their larger office in Shibuya that had English speaking employees. In Japan, when you rent an apartment, you pay the first month rent, a deposit of 1 or more months rent, and a funny thing called ‘key money’ which is basically a gift to the owner for allowing you to rent and it’s also usually equal to 1 or more months rent. In addition, a Japanese person must also cosign for you, and in the case you don’t have someone willing to do this, you must also pay a guarantor fee, which is basically an insurance company that will pay if you skip town or something crappy. They asked me what i wanted (as cheap as possible, close to a train, in a certain range of Shinjuku,) and what I wished for (separate toilet/shower rooms, small was OK!, and ideally no key money & low deposit) and they presented me 3 listings that all met my wants & wishes, and that would also rent to foreigners. We made a plan to look at the units the next day and I settled on the last one we saw, which was the smallest, but also the best location, cheapest, and I was able to negotiate just 1 month deposit, and only a half month’s rent in key money. My awesome boss volunteered to cosign for me, which was amazing of her! The apartment was just 2 rooms – the room for living/sleeping in, and the kitchen where you also entered the apartment. I even had a little garden out the sliding double doors off the living room. It was a wooden structure, and on the first floor – both of which are probably not preferred in Tokyo, but I had no problem with those things.  Upon returning to the rental office to sign papers on the 6th floor, I felt my first small Tokyo earthquake. By the time I really realized what was happening it was over.
Here’s my old apartment in Tokyo – the view is from the sliding doors out to the garden, also pictured below:

Apartment in Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Sasazuka, Tokyo Apartment, cheap Tokyo Apartment

My Tokyo apartment – the living room, in the distance, is the kitchen/entrance, and not seen is the bathroom & toilet room.

Tokyo, Shibuya, Sasazuka, Tokyo garden, Shibuya apartment

My Shibuya-ku (Tokyo neighborhood) Garden

Afterwards, pizza from Sbarro to celebrate…”chicago pizza” said the description on this pizza:

Chicago style pizza, sbarro, tokyo, tokyo pizza, shibuya

Chicago PIzza from Sbarro in Tokyo

Before I left Mizuho, I had the chance to do some chalk art at one of my favorite cafe/coffee shops I frequented over the year before, Bois Cafe. Yutaka & Mai at the cafe are awesome and we always tried to to talk to each other whenever possible. We first started talking a bit after we found each other on Instagram & I shared a photo of their latte art. They always liked my doodles & drawings, so with their 3rd year anniversary of being in business party coming up, so they asked me to help decorate by doing some chalk drawings on their huge chalkboard. I was nervous since I never did anything like that before, but I figured it would be a good chance to try it out, so one afternoon I went over there for a few hours and worked on it. They liked it a lot and it turned out well!

charlkboard art, charlk art, doodles, illustration, bois cafe, Mizuho City, Gifu Prefecture,  Japan

The chalkboard & I at Bois Cafe. They did the white lettering at the top! March 2014.

i’m not sure if parents want their kids pictures on the internet, so here’s one of the only pictures I have of me and adult students only at my school in Mizuho. The woman on the left is Yoko, and she spent an hour nearly every single week before her own class to give me Japanese lessons (and on one occasion, cooking lessons!) so I could prepare for the JLPT test (which I passed

Some of my adult students & I / Spring 2014

Some of my adult students & I / Spring 2014