budget travel package

My apartment hunting has come to a climax. Last weekend, I went to see the places of my choice in the countryside where I had never visited before. I had found a budget travel package online that paying only for train tickets made a hotel stay, dinner and breakfast all free.

It was a 90-minute bullet train ride and to take the bullet train, I got to the downtown train terminal. I hadn’t been downtown for years and was shocked by its filthiness. Years ago, my English friend once said that she was amazed at how clean it was when she first came to Japan. Now, time has changed that and litter was everywhere on the streets.

But once the train left the terminal, I was supposed to enjoy a beautiful countryside view from the train window after a while. Since it was a super discount travel package, the trains and the seats were specified beforehand. The bullet train was a double-decker. My seat was on the first floor from which I could only see people’s feet on the platform from the train window. Although I expected the countryside would come into view after departure, low soundproof walls standing along the railroad track blocked scenery all the way…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

the secret of the fourth floor

Since I decided to move out, I’ve realized the power of the Internet again. Without going anywhere physically, I’ve been able to look for a place to live at home, gathering a lot of information on prices, floor plans and the neighborhood. People’s blogs are useful, too.

For the past eight months, I’ve been looking around the Internet, collecting and comparing the details, and have narrowed down the choice to three apartments. They are all located in the same area, which is surrounded by mountains, cold and snowy in winter. The area has a small population with a constant decline. That has led to a remarkably low price for an apartment there. I chose the area because the prices were low enough to fit my tight budget. But its small population was the main appeal to me, who feel uncomfortable to be with people.

All three places I’ve picked for my new home are more than 20 years old and one of them is on the fourth floor. So far, that one is my first choice. There seem no particular flaws in the room, but the building’s available rooms are mostly on the fourth floor. Is it just a coincidence, or is there anything wrong? Even the mighty Internet doesn’t tell about it. I wonder what’s the secret of the fourth floor…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

I also had a fear of heights.

Many municipalities in Japan hold a fireworks display during summer. The one for where I live took place yesterday. It’s an annual event of 90-minute fireworks. When I first moved here, the fireworks were visible from the window of my apartment. But soon a house was built right in front of it and blocked the view. I had been out to see them since then and had found a perfect spot near my apartment. But then, Seven Eleven was built right in front of my spot and blocked the view. So, this year, the event started with spot hunting. Soon after the fireworks began, my partner found the spot. It was beside a fence that surrounded a construction site for a condominium that had been abandoned due to the recession. The fence stood on a five-foot-high mound. I needed to stand on the 15-inch-wide edge after climbing the steep mound. While my partner easily reached the spot, I was fighting with my fear of slopes. As I was about to give up, my partner declared that the spot had the most splendid view for the fireworks around here. With his help, I managed to get to the top of the mound in every conceivably clumsy way. There, I made a discovery. In addition to almost all kinds of phobia, I also had a fear of heights. For 90 minutes, I clung to the fence with all my strength that would be unnecessary for people except for me. But, the view was indeed magnificent, the best spot ever for this fireworks display. On top of that, thanks to the height, I got to see the fireworks of Tokyo Disneyland, which I had heard the sound every night but never been able to see from my neighborhood. And today, every muscle in my body is screaming from the climbing and clinging. Nothing ventured, nothing gained…