Apaato!

I've officially been living in Japan for a month. The language barrier still sucks and I haven't gone out for sushi... boooo. But I have gotten a few things ticked off my checklist:
-signed up for classes -bicycle -cellphone -My very own flat or in Japanese: apaato!
I moved into my new apaato last Thursday. It's about 15-20 mins by bike from campus and less than 5 from Takagaraike Park and Pond. The park is nice to cut through on my way to classes and I can go running around the lake in the mornings.
Most Japanese apartments require utilities, a deposit and key money in addition to rent. Key money is essentially a gift given to the landlord for a couple months rent that they dictate. Some places I looked at had a low rent but when adding on the key money it was double the rent! The apartment building I'm staying at is geared for foreigners, its furnished and there was no key money. (sweet!) The rent with utilities is about the equivalent of what I'm paying in Providence for rent and utilities. Not as cheap as the dorms (photo above) but at least I get my own kitchen!
So here's my place! It's on a busy street that heads into town and under a motorway but the traffic isn't that loud. I'm also really close to a couple of grocery stores, stationary shop, bakeries and a hyaku-en store!
I bought all of these things at the hyaku-en store or (100 yen store) for 1,995 yen!
Although my apartment is furnished it was missing some basic cooking utensils and I was desperately in need of some hangers. I've spent less than $50 though and made some big improvements.
Here's the entrance way where you leave your shoes and switch into house slippers.
Here's my kitchen table/desk/work space in the apartment and my tv/bookshelf!
My bed and kitchen area: the mattress is a traditional futon but its on top of a frame. It's pretty thin but at least they gave me a real pillow. In the dorms they had these other pillows that drive me crazy. The pillows are really small, like half the size of a normal pillow and they are filled with tiny plastic pellets. I suppose they offer lots of support to your neck if you sleep on your back. However, I sleep on my side or stomach so sleeping with one of those pillows is like having your face stuffed into a bag of legos.

Kitchen area complete with one burner and virtually no counter space. Making dinner involves a lot of musical chairs with various pots, pans and ingredients.
Here's my bathroom! On one side you have the potty and on the other the shower. There is a drain in the floor that allows this all to work properly. Even today bathrooms in Japanese homes have drains in the floor like this and usually a vanity where you can sit and scrub with soap. Then, you can rinse yourself off with the hose before getting into the already filled bath tub.One family will keep the bathtub filled and everyone will use the same water before it is changed, which is why you scrub and rinse yourself off before getting in the tub.
Shower heads here are usually a hose and the wall has places at various heights for it to fit. There is also a lower down faucet, this makes sitting down and washing much easier. Or if you prefer you can put the hose in the highest knobby thing and stand up and shower.
Here's the potty. There are some crazy high tech toilets in Japan, but mine is not one of them. However, it seems pretty standard here to have a toilet with two flush options chiisai or ooki (small or large) and before the new water refills in the toilet it runs through a sink at the top of the tank that allows you to rinse your hands.

One of my favorite features of my room is this light pull. It's a little guy in a peach. You can close him up in the peach and make the string short or pull him far away from the top and make it longer and easier to reach from bed. He also glows in the dark! That's it for this week, we've been getting a lot of rain from the typhoons and I haven't been able to go out as much. Keep your fingers crossed!