January 18, 2008

Our Apartment And Some Observations

This morning Mike had his first "true" Japanese train commuting experience. For some reason, leaving 10 minutes later than usual or the fact that the express train was running 10 minutes late, the train was absolutely you-have-to-see-it-to-believe it jam packed. Mike was so absolutely wedged in he didn't even have to hold the hand-straps. The whole smushed collective just sways too and fro as one. At lunch, Mike had his first experience shopping for a particular item (an electrical strip) without being able to read the signs. Incredibly challenging, especially in these monster department store/supermarket/combo shops. (He did eventually find it, as well as some cute toys for the kids). Meanwhile, at work, Mike has been struggling with the Japanese computer keyboard, which has all of the symbols and non-letter characters in a completely different place than on our normal keyboard. But he's getting so used to it that typing on our home laptop keyboard is becoming a challenge!

One observation we share is the remarkable efficiency and practicality of everything. For example, at the Panasonic cafeteria, hundreds of people move through the place and eat incredibly quickly. This is partly due to the fact that there is no waiting on line with hot food and paying at a register. Instead, you grab food and eat. The bottom of each plate has a bar code or RF transmitter, and on the way out you place your tray on a reader and it tells you how much you owe. You then pay by prepaid card at the machine. Very clever.

Another nicety that we forgot to comment on are the heated toilet seats. We had one at the hotel, but don't have one at the apartment, and we miss it already! Especially the kids and Ilena.

Another great concept is department stores with indoor kids play spaces. See the pictures below. It makes having to drag the kids around shopping a bit less painful. Finally, we attach some pictures of our apartment and some pictures from dinner tonight. Ilena and the kids took the RokkoLiner train off of the island to meet Mike at Sumiyoshi Station. After walking around a bit and checking out the Toys R Us there, we found a great casual pizza/pasta restaurant on Rokko Island. Its pretty much built for gaijins, with English menu etc., but very kid friendly and cheap. We met some other foreigner families there, including a family that has a child in Jacob's kindergarten class.

By the way, here are some pictures of our Apartment:

P.S. We love having cable TV. We watched Heroes tonight on FOX! (sure, the episode was two years old, but hey, you can't have everything).

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