Posts Tagged life in Japan

August 8, 2006 – Typhoons are not helpful for drying clothes

Today a typhoon passed by Numazu. We weren’t directly in the path, but we did get some sideways rain. There isn’t an umbrella in the world big enough to keep you dry when it’s raining sideways.

The weather one, not the wrestling one

Typhoons are also not friendly to laundry. Clothes dryers are not common in most parts of Japan; most people hang their clothes outside to dry after washing. In my company apartment, my roommates and I hang our clothes to dry on our apartment balcony. Since the balcony is covered, we never rush to bring in clothes when it starts raining. Unfortunately a covered balcony doesn’t help much when the wind picks up and switches the rain from vertical to horizontal.

Today’s typhoon ended up soaking all of the clothes we had out for drying, but at least nothing blew away like some of the less fortunate people in the neighbourhood. Trying to find your wet, muddy clothes on the street after a typhoon passes is no fun.

Remember friends – bring your clothes inside when the weather gets nasty!

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March 20, 2006 – Kabi Killer


In preparation for a move in inspection, my roommate Azeroth and I have been working hard to clean our apartment. One of the items on the inspection list is a check for mold under the bathtub.

The “bathroom” in Japan is different from what I was used to in Canada. Back home, “bathroom” was a room with a toilet, sink, and a bathtub or shower. In my apartment in Japan the toilet is in a room all on it’s own, which is very convenient for use when someone is having a shower. The bathroom itself is an enclosed room with a shower nozzle, a deep bathtub, and a drain on the floor.

To be truly Japanese, you need to wash yourself with the shower until you are completely clean, and then sit neck deep in extremely hot water. The bath water stays clean this way, and can be used by different people. My roommates and I have probably never used the bathtub for its intended purpose, opting instead for the convenience of the shower.

Since the bathroom is always hot and damp, it’s a great breeding ground for mold. Until we started our cleaning exercise, I had no idea that I could remove plastic panels from the side of the bathtub and get access underneath. When I did this, I discovered a black forest of thick mold everywhere. It looked like the entire underside of our tub had been taken over by the dark hair of Sadako from The Ring (Samara for those who have only seen the American remake).


After trying to remember if I had recently watched a haunted VHS tape, I headed across the street to the small supermarket in search of one of the most popular mold killers on the market: Kabi Killer (literally mold killer). I returned home, and sprayed about half of the bottle under the tub, periodically stopping to rinse with the shower nozzle. I’m not sure when the last time this was done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been years ago. The whole experience was nasty.

English Teachers: when you get an instruction book on how to maintain your apartment in Japan, actually read it. Nobody wants to discover a dark mold cavern under the tub.

2016 Bonus Material: For an excellent read on maintaining your bathroom, check out this article on the excelled website “Surviving in Japan”

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How to get the most out of your time in Japan

There are a few good stories coming up involving my friend and coworker Vivian from England. I met a lot of different people during my 3 years teaching in Japan, and Vivian was always one of my favourites due to her personality and attitude. Here’s a good example of what made her so cool:

Shortly after Vivian came to Japan, she learned that the local “English school and bar”, Speak E-Z, had salsa dancing classes one night a week. Vivian loved salsa dancing, and was really excited to go check out the classes. In the days leading up to her first class, she invited virtually all of the teachers in the area to come with her. Some said no, many said yes.

On the night of the first class, she got dressed up, and started trying to collect her dance team. One after the other, everyone cancelled. Some didn’t feel like it, some didn’t have anything to wear, and one small group decided to watch a movie instead.

Many people in this situation would have given up, taken off their salsa dancing clothes, and sat at home, quietly hating their friends. Vivian decided to go by herself instead.

She walked into Speak E-Z, introduced herself to everyone in the room, and then proceeded to have a lot of fun dancing and  hanging out afterwards. She came home with a phone full of new contact numbers and three dates set up over the next few weeks!

I know that walking into a room full of strangers and introducing yourself is not easy for most people. But if you’re going to move away from friends and family and travel half way around the world, you should at least get out of the house and make some new experiences. Vivian had exactly the right idea, and she made the most out of her time in Japan.

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February 27, 2006 – I hate garbage day

In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I REALLY hate garbage day. Not just the regular pickup, but the big day where everything can be collected: plastic, glass, cans, old clothes, paper, and almost everything else that we are allowed to throw away.

Living with two other guys who rarely cook and who enjoy beer means lots of plastic and lots of cans. You can’t just drop stuff off, you have to sort everything by material, colour, and sometimes size. The volunteer garbage police supervise everything and don’t hesitate to let you know when you’re doing it wrong.

As stated in this previous post, we tried to send Palmer out as often as we could for garbage day. Even the strictest members of the volunteer garbage police are reluctant to tell the tall, muscular, bald Australian guy that he’s sorting his glass wrong.

I’m going to miss Palmer when he moves to Hokkaido because he’s a good guy. But I’ll also miss him because now Azeroth and I will suffer the wrath of the garbage police.

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January 4, 2006 – Last day of holidays

Today is my last day of the New Years Holidays. I spent the day relaxing and mentally preparing myself to go back to work.

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December 14, 2005 – Santa planning

Last month, I agreed to be Santa for an upcoming Yamaha English school Christmas party. After work today, I went to meet the organizer for Sunday’s Christmas party. Yamaha English school uses Japanese teachers and has a kids English program. The Penpal used to work there and still has some connections with her old coworkers.

My original idea about the party was that I was going to put on a Santa costume for about 20 kids and hand out presents. I learned that I was actually going to double as a children’s entertainer and then Santa twice in the same day. The first show was going to be 60 kids 5 years old and younger. The second show will be 30 kids aged 6 and up.

What have I gotten myself into??

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August 16, 2005 – Massive earthquake

There was a massive earthquake in Northern Japan today. Even though it was 400km north east of Numazu, my apartment building was still shaking and creaking.

Every time there is an earthquake I am reminded just how much I hate them.

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