Shopping in Japan and building a cozy apartment.
What’s harder than shopping for your first apartment? Shopping for your first apartment in a country where you don’t really know the language. My first night in Nanao I had to wait for the gas guy and the delivery dude so I didn’t get out for dinner until almost dark. I think it was close to 7pm. So I made my way as best I could in the direction I thought would have the most civilization. Thankfully, I was right. I got to 159 and found a drug store, a bookstore/tsutaya (rental store), a Nafco (homegoods), and finally a Sunkus (conbini). I got my first real conbini bento style meal and headed home.
Thankfully, I had internet right away and was able to communicate with the other two Interac ALT’s that lived close by in this way. The following days were filled with exploration, adventures (aka getting lost and finding cool stuff accidently), and a lot of shopping. I might have different requirements than most people when it comes to necessities in my apartment so bear with me as I go through the list. Since the bedding I had ordered through Interac was not up to my Princess needs, this was at the top of my list. Nafco is where it’s at, kids. I got a nice foam pad, a cover for said pad, another plush cover on top of that since it was still cold, a bean bag sort of pillow, and a big plush blanket to go under the comforter that I had ordered. I decided not to get a regular futon set, though they were very well priced and looked warm and cozy, because I saw none that caught my fancy. I can say that I am still very happy with my purchases and the extra blankets came in handy when my boyfriend came to visit later on.
Next I was on the prowl for something for my floor. It was naked. I didn’t like the chairs in the apartment (uncomfortable to sit in, no real back to it so no lumbar support). I didn’t want sit-down seating. I wanted floor style seating. So I found a huge area rug that I liked, also washable! And a table with a floor chair that bent into different angles. I felt accomplished once it was set out. Later I found some floor pillows elsewhere that I liked and 2 shelf units with some canvas drawers. Had to put those together Ikea style but I prevailed.
Then I made two purchases that I probably should have waited on… but didn’t. The first was a kotatsu set. I don’t have a kotatsu. Nor do I really want one or have room for one in this little Leo Palace apartment. I also paid way more for it than I thought I was without realizing it until it was too late. I could have returned it but I got the better of myself and decided to keep it as being my one big ‘take home after I’m done’ purchase. The second was a monitor. I have a laptop that has a screen that works for the most part. It’s started to be goofy lately and sputter a lot. It drives me nuts when it does that. It was to the point where the screen had to be tilted back to a 30 degree angle. So I gave in and found a nice 23in monitor at Joshin. Love it. So much. I’ve never had a monitor so big and so clear. It was on sale of course, just like the kotatsu set was, but they were still very large purchases that perhaps could have waited until after the first paycheck. Because of this, I’m down to my last stash of moneys. This is a tale for the wise.
The actual shopping was an adventure on its own. I count myself lucky that Nafco had just about everything I needed in one place. Knowing only basic Japanese, I tried my best to communicate when needed. Thankfully, I usually didn’t need more than thank you, excuse me, and sorry. Sometimes I’d get a curve ball. I suppose it’s good practice. Just like trying to read the signs and prices correctly while still being a good shopper and compare said prices for the best deal.
These little shopping interactions were my first real interactions with Japanese people (in Japan, anyway) and they became little stepping stones of understanding. Doing a lot of shopping alone was helpful, too, because then I didn’t rely on those around me who understood Japanese better than myself. I never know what I can really do until I’m left to fend for myself, I suppose. Anyway, I was learning. I made some mistakes but all in all, I think I came out on top. If there is a top. Oh and if anyone would like a more detailed explanation of how I did with money (like how much did I bring, what was most expensive, things to watch out for and so on) please ask.
Next post: driving and what we found in the first week. Prepare yourself.
With love – M