Shiny around work

Japan is well known as a forerunner in mechanics and electronics. One of their most overlooked talents however, is lighting things up. Referred to as 'Illuminations', leading up to the new year various places around Tokyo are set ablaze with thousands of coloured lights! A quick example from around my office in Roppongi Hills.

Can you see me working on the 26th floor?

Tokyo Tower lit up pink


A lonely Saturday night in Roppongi

For those unfamiliar with Tokyo, Roppongi is where the majority of non-Japanese (gaijin's) live, work and play. This is both where I will be working, and where I am currently staying. Being a Saturday night, I thought I would go explore the area and get something to eat. As I walked around two things became increasingly clear to me. One, there was many more gaijin males than females. Two, most of these males were accompanied by their girlfriends (Japanese or otherwise).

After wandering past numerous sushi, teppanyaki, gyuudon and raamen eateries, I was drawn to a flashy Italian restaurant playing Justin Bieber. I blame it on home-sickness. To keep me busy whilst having dinner for one, I picked up a free magazine for foreigners living in Tokyo. As I ate my undercooked spaghetti, I tried not to dwell on the fact that I am in the extreme minority being a single white female (SWF) in Japan.

Then something in the magazine catches my eye. Classifieds for special friends in Tokyo! As I read through the various ads I am amused at the colourful ads from people looking for partners.

This one has potential (type of female not specified)..

And atleast this one is honest!

I swear this isn't me!

To complete my night wander around Roppongi I stop in at Donkey Hote (I think this is a Japanese translation of Don Quixote). Veuve and Moet for less than $50! I am tempted to go spend my lonely Saturday night drunk in my hotel room. But settled instead for a green tea and a movie..

Finding an apartment in Tokyo

For the last 2 days I have been apartment hunting in Tokyo. Tokyo is renowned as one of the world's most expensive cities, and infamous for the lengths it takes to find and apply for an apartment. Despite this. I have high hopes. The real estate agency that is assisting me is (foreigner targeted) Hikari Homes. My agent Kaz Harada-San speaks perfect English and so far has been very helpful. Except, after 2 long days I can still not find my perfect apartment! Kaz kindly reminded me late yesterday that there is no such thing as the 'perfect apartment' in Tokyo and I would have to comprimise somewhere. So far these are my options - feel free to comment on which you think is the best comprimise...

1) Great apartment near Yoyogi station. Close to Harajuku, and beautiful Yoyogi park. Comprimise - construction site next door (apparently will not work on weekends, but if I know Japan, weekend work is always done!)
2) Another nice studio this time in Yoyogi Park. Great view and on the third floor. Comprimise - right next to a freeway
3) Brand new apartment in Naka-meguro. Beautiful area and convenient to get to work. Comprimise - on the 1st floor so looks out on to a concrete wall.

Some quick examples.

The Crajiness Begins

The craziness began boarding the plane yesterday. First the plane was 90% full of Japanese school girls, who screamed in unison as the plane took off. The other 10% consisted of about 10 cameramen, 2 cowboys, 2 Harlem Globetrotters and some other very familiar looking couples. At first, stuck in my own world of worry, I casually asked the man next to me if he was a filming a documentary. His response was that 'he was travelling around filming people'. Things started to get stranger when the pilot announced out of the blue that we would be the first plane to arrive in Tokyo, and the cowboys etc all cheered and whooped. After chatting with my neighbour about his film career over a glass of cheap wine I overheard one of the cabin crew mention the Amazing Race, and things suddenly started to fall in to place. I knew I'd seen those Harlem Globetrotters somewhere before, and I've never been to Harlem!

From there, and 3 mini bottles of wine later, my cameraman neighbour opened up about the show, and how they were next heading to Tokyo. I was so excited with my brush with reality TV fame, I blabbed a million and one questions including if he saw the girl get hit in the face by the watermelon. And he had. For those that haven't seen this. Witness the fitness here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OZjHjJToVo

I know these are terrible photos - but I was in an airport so trying out my stealth photography.

Spot the cowboy hats

Racing off the plane


The Night Before the Flight

This time tomorrow I will be embarking on my journey to live in Tokyo. I am only slightly nervous for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I am flying Qantas. Secondly, I am meeting my real estate agent about 3 hours after arriving in Tokyo, have no mobile phone, and very little idea of how to find an apartment, let alone set up a bank or phone account.

None the less, having a one way ticket is very exciting! I am excited to see what my job will be like, and my (hopefully soon to rent) apartment, and the type of people I will meet.

To finish off the blog post I would like to note that I have once again worked wonders in fitting all my things in to two neat little suitcases. I am known amongst my travelling circles as an adept packer, and would like to prove so with my first blog photo!

My next post will follow me renting an apartment, so come back and enjoy the madness of living in Tokyo!