One obvious downside to living on one’s own, is that you have to do everything yourself, which sounds obvious but extends beyond cooking and cleaning into the realm of appliances, utilities, and Internet. Things that, with my poor Japanese ability, seemed quite daunting. This is one of the reasons why I initially elected to live in a sharehouse instead of on my own, so that I didn’t have to deal with any of that.
But necessity is the mother of having to figure out how to be an adult, so here I was.
Utilities were actually pretty easy. My blessed real estate agent set up an appointment for the man from the gas company to come turn the gas on and do his inspection upon move in day, and also hook up my gas cooker at no extra cost. So on day one I was already able to take a hot shower and cook things using pots and pans that I didn’t have yet. Good start.
Perhaps it goes without saying that buying your own washer from someone you met on Facebook dictates that you will have to set up said washer as well. This turned out to be a bit complicated. The previous owner of my washer had given me a few different adapters to connect the hose to the spigot where the water came out, and over the course of several days I tried a few different configurations, attempting to follow the pictures in the instruction booklet. Despite my best efforts though, every time I turned the water on it leaked. I figured I wasn’t tightening the parts enough, and the tiny wrench I had from IKEA was too small, so I ordered a bigger wrench off of Amazon. I tightened the nut, but no dice: there was still a leak. Trying not to panic, I googled “how to hook up a Japanese washing machine” and stumbled upon a Youtube video where the host didn’t any kind of adapter, but simply stuck the part into the spigot, and released a catch to lock in into place. I was skeptical. Could it really be that easy? I gave it a try, and it worked! I felt like the hominids in the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey who discovered fire. Lesson learned: with every step of life in Japan, some other gaijin has done it before you, and more than likely, they documented it on Youtube.
The final thorn in my side, the last thing to get resolved in my moving adventure, was the Internet. Setting up Internet sounds relatively simple, but of course that isn’t the case. For this one, I needed a Japanese friend to make a phone call on my behalf to set up my account. Now, the process of setting up Internet in an apartment in Japan will vary based on the type of Internet, Hikari (fiber-optic) or ADLS, as well as the type of residence, Family Type (single-family dwelling or small condo-like building) or Mansion Type (large, multi-residence building), and whether it has been installed in the building before. To make things more confusing, you will typically be dealing with two different companies, the internet provider and the service provider, which in my case were NTT and Softbank. For me, I think the Internet had been installed previously, because I didn’t need anyone from either company to come to my apartment, or if they did they just worked on the exterior of the building and I never saw or heard them. I received a bunch of equipment in the mail from NTT, including a rather outdated VDSL modem, and from Softbank I received a single WiFi modem. I thumbed through the lengthy instruction manual, and while I could have probably have fumbled through it on my own, by this point I was just so tired. Tired of moving, tired of contracts, tired of getting furnishings, tired of life. I had a friend hook it up, and twenty minutes later both modems were happily blinking and providing me with the glory of the Internet. I had made it.
The date was November 21. My move, from conception to this final moment, had lasted nearly five months. Now it was time to rest. Rest, and plan my housewarming party. . .