The Slightly Longer Way Series - Table of Contents
|Day 0 – Friday, May 05 2023 to Sunday, May 07 2023||Flight from Edmonton to Tokyo||-|
|Day 1 – Monday, May 08 2023||Train from Tokyo to Kyoto||-|
|Day 2 – Tuesday, May 09 2023||RSJP Orientation Day||W1D1|
|Day 3 – Wednesday, May 10 2023||Placement test, Kinkakuji/Golden Pavilion||W1D2|
|Day 4 – Thursday, May 11 2023||Kyo-Yuzen Dyeing Workshop||W1D3|
|Day 5 – Friday, May 12 2023||Mori Touki-ken Pottery Workshop||W1D4|
|Day 6 – Saturday, May 13 2023||Ichihime Shrine, Nishiki Market||-|
|Day 7 – Sunday, May 14 2023||Nara, Todaiji Temple||-|
|Day 8 – Monday, May 15 2023||Urasenke||W2D1|
|Day 9 – Tuesday, May 16 2023||Nijojo Castle||W2D2|
|Day 10 – Wednesday, May 17 2023||Tojiin Temple||W2D3|
|Day 11 – Thursday, May 18 2023||Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto Sanjo Shopping Street, Tsubomi||W2D4|
|Day 12 – Friday, May 19 2023||Kyoto Station||W2D5|
|Day 13 – Saturday, May 20 2023||Kamogawa River, Shimogoryo Shrine Kankosai||-|
|Day 14 – Sunday, May 21 2023||Shimogoryo Shrine Kankosai||-|
|Day 15 – Monday, May 22 2023||Kimono-Pro||W3D1|
|Day 16 – Tuesday, May 23 2023||Ritsumeikan Library, Hama Sushi||W3D2|
|Day 17 – Wednesday, May 24 2023||Domoto Insho House, Kamogawa, Ichijoji||W3D3|
|Day 18 – Thursday, May 25 2023||Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Hama Sushi (with Kel)||W3D4|
|Day 19 – Friday, May 26 2023||Super Karaoke||W3D5|
|Day 20 – Saturday, May 27 2023||Nothing special||-|
|Day 21 – Sunday, May 28 2023||Demachi Masugata Shopping Street, a long walk home||-|
|Day 22 – Monday, May 29 2023||Nothing special||W4D1|
|Day 23 – Tuesday, May 30 2023||Kyoto International Manga Museum||W4D2|
|Day 24 – Wednesday, May 31 2023||Ritsumeikan Library||W4D3|
|Day 25 – Thursday, Jun 01 2023||Maiko/Geiko demonstration||W4D4|
|Day 26 – Friday, Jun 02 2023||Final Presentation, Taiko Lab||W4D5|
|Day 27 – Saturday, Jun 03 2023||Kusatsu-Juku Honjin, Lake Biwa Museum, Omi Hachiman (with Zian)||-|
|Day 28 – Sunday, Jun 04 2023||Omi Hachiman City Museum, Omi Jingu (with Zian)||-|
|Day 29 – Monday, Jun 05 2023||Arashiyama||W5D1|
|Day 30 – Tuesday, Jun 06 2023||Nothing special||W5D2|
|Day 31 – Wednesday, Jun 07 2023||Final exam, Osaka, Manga Cafe (with Zian)||W5D3|
|Day 32 – Thursday, Jun 08 2023||Osaka, Namba (with Zian)||W5D4|
|Day 33 – Friday, Jun 09 2023||RSJP Graduation Day||W5D5|
|Day 34 – Saturday, Jun 10 2023||Leaving Zian, Train from Kyoto to Tokyo, Ikebukuro||-|
|Day 35 – Sunday, Jun 11 2023||Shibuya, duo MUSIC EXCHANGE||-|
|Day 36 – Monday, Jun 12 2023||Shinjuku, Sakura House, Sophia University||-|
|Day 37 – Tuesday, Jun 13 2023||Akihabara||-|
|Day 38 – Wednesday, Jun 14 2023||Flight from Tokyo to Edmonton||-|
Monday, Jun 12 2023 (Day 36)
Here’s yet another complaint about the house I stay in. So I made soup yesterday:
There’s no space to even put down any of the huge bowls they have, which I had to use, by the way, because they don’t have any normal-sized bowls, not even small rice bowls. Yet somehow they have huge square bento boxes stuffed in the cupboard below the sink (there’s also no space to put them down anywhere on or near the kitchenette) as well as eight cups taking up two shelves worth of space above the sink. Eight cups! In a 1-2 person tiny home! So weird. Are these tableware all just for show?
Before anything else, this was breakfast:
I needed to keep my “one piece of bread every 7 days” New Year’s Resolution still going, so I picked up that at the supermarket bakery yesterday since the egg in it looked interesting. It was okay. I also wasn’t hungry, so I skipped a formal lunch and dinner but had a meal in between the two around 5 pm instead.
In terms of my emotional mood, well, this quote comes to mind: “Crying doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’ve been strong for too long.”
But actually, I feel more stable now on average — I don’t randomly start tearing up in public or anything, especially if I keep my mind on other things. For *most* of the day I felt perfectly fine. I still feel hollow inside though, and I did definitely have a good long cry inside my house in the early evening after I got home, when something triggered me. I still can’t read Zian‘s letter without turning into mush too. What a mess I am. Am I really an adult?
With some time having passed between the end of RSJP and stepping away from Zian now, and thus some time to do some soul-searching, I do understand better why this happened and why I feel so absolutely emotionally wrecked at times. While I knew the parting would hurt, the strength of my emotions and this utter depression after the program ended really blindsided me. I expected to be moderately sad for a day at most, and for the most part, outside of like maybe half an hour each day, this is correct. I’m perfectly fine except for when I’m not. But that half an hour or so each day really guts me.
The “why” conclusion I came to is not something I can really write about in these daily posts, especially if this is meant to be a log of my daily adventures and experiences in Kyoto, because all that is more analysis than chronicling, and goes into more personal detail than I want to put here, but again is probably something I will deconstruct in all its raw glory in the Final Thoughts post after I get home. Which, by the way, is coming up soon — after this post, I have Day 37, Day 38, and then a Final Thoughts, and that’s it.
Still, because this is a chronicle, I’m going to write and leave all these painful, raw emotions on these pages, even though it’s hard to write, really hurts like hell when it’s happening, is embarrassing at some level, draining to write and read at another level, probably boring for some future readers, and perhaps even paints me as, oh I don’t know, clingy, creepy, ayashii (suspicious), obsessive, childish, and immature, in the eyes of people that don’t know me. I think I’m all those things right now too when looking dispassionately down at myself and my thoughts, so I understand. I’m horrible. I still expect that I’ll recover from this by the time I reach home, though…
And me writing all this is a weird duality too, because I put up a brave face in front of her and I don’t think I’ve really let these feelings through yet, but she’s going to read all this eventually too as I know that she’s aware of the blog and has looked through the first few Slightly Longer Way posts. Well, when you get here, Zian, I’m sorry if reading all this makes you feel awkward. But more days will have passed between now (when I’m writing this) and then (when you’re reading this) so I probably no longer feel this way anyway! I just did back then — our evening chats really cheered me up though, so thank you for them.
With all that out of the way, one thing I did to try to move on today is that I came to the realization that the time I spent with Zian and the fun we had is indicative of one thing — picking a private apartment for my one year stint at Sophia in the fall is a VERY BAD idea. I like the idea of a private kitchenette and all those other facilities, but I didn’t really use the kitchenette all that much in the month I spent in Kyoto, and the thing with living in a private apartment is that I will never have the chance to meet anyone else from the apartment complex. I certainly didn’t even ever see another guest even once at my Kyoto place, Floral Green Maple House, except at one point when I ran into a couple checking out. But I absolutely cannot feel alone for my year here in Tokyo. I’ll probably feel miserable and end my study abroad after one semester or something if I don’t make friends. There will be opportunities in school with any sort of luck, but I will also have a higher chance of finding someone compatible and awesome if I opt for a guest house or share house (I’m still not sure of the difference and different places seem to define the two differently) instead of a private apartment.
So with all that said, I spent today researching share/guest houses and then visiting a couple. And I actually signed up for and reserved one. But we’ll get to that in time. I have a bad habit of jumping ahead in my writing!
Anyway, there were some things throughout the day that reminded me of the fun times that Zian and I had. Now they just hurt, so I’m getting them out of the way first. Firstly, I don’t think Tobidashi-kun exists in Tokyo, which is too bad. The signs are definitely there though, even with the kanji for tobidashi on them, just without the mascot character. Kanto should totally lean into this Kansai thing.
These bushes remind me of our trip to Kusatsu and Lake Biwa Museum on Day 27. After we had gotten down from the bus and were heading for the museum, I pointed out some of these red leaves on the tops of green hedge bushes. Zian said she wanted pictures of them, so I sent her one I took of her looking at them. Now only the bushes are left.
These black, white, and red food signs that say くら also remind me of her. They’re from a revolving counter sushi restaurant chain called Kurasushi, with a branch near Ritsumeikan and several more around the city. We never ate at them, but they were in Zian‘s book of recommendations that she collected from Mr Tanaka and various Buddies. I contemplated going in but knew that revolving sushi would hurt too much right now.
Lastly, the trigger that I spoke about earlier was this person, who I passed by in Itabashi Station on the way home. This really shook me.
Her profile, hairstyle, and orange jacket reminded me of an older version of Zian, leaving in the other direction with a suitcase, and my heart sank. I actually don’t think I would have broken down after I got home that evening if I didn’t see her. I have no idea who she is and she has no idea who I am and will never know that her innocent presence had a profound effect on me this evening. How weird!
Okay, so. Sharehouses and Guesthouses. I looked up some companies and specifically settled on one that was listed at the bottom of Sophia‘s Housing Arrangement (local) page, under Information for Self Arrangement. There are many other companies not listed here, but they would be pointless unless they were had houses very close to Sophia, because just by virtue of being on the page on the Sophia website, the odds are much higher that incoming Sophian international students will go for one of these, than another random share house in the middle of another district. The one I settled on, for now, is Sakura House — the reason because I noticed on their website that they had one or two stay houses actually in the vicinity of the Sophia University neighbourhood itself, which was a big bonus. Would I be able to sacrifice other things that I want if I found a good enough house/room? I think so.
So I emailed them, asking if I could come in to visit the house itself or the main office, and two hours later, I got bored of waiting for a reply and went down to their office in Shinjuku anyway, since the office did say walk-in appointments were welcome.
After talking (in English) to a lady named Ilaria there, I found that there were two main candidates for Sakura House share houses within walking distance of Sophia University itself, and each one had one room left. I expressed a desire to visit them and look at them, but both rooms were apparently occupied at the moment. However, I said that I at least wanted to look at the surrounding neighbourhood, since Sophia University (and the Yotsuya neighbourhood) wasn’t too far away, so I left and said I would be back later on that day.
Before doing all that, I decided to visit Sophia University itself. The school semester was actually in session, as Sophia was now in the second half of the spring semester (local), so there were lots of students about at the crosswalk outside the University even in the middle of the day:
I pretended to be an actual student and mingled with everyone else, though I did introduce myself to the gate guards (as visitors were asked to visit the guardhouse before going in) and was welcomed and waved on through. After my Ritsumeikan experience, I knew I wanted to check out the bookshop and various cafeterias. So here’s the bookshop, a Kinokuniya branch:
No pictures were allowed inside, I found out later, but I took one anyway of this booklet:
Although I didn’t buy it as I’m not a student yet. I was searching for something like that to buy from Ritsumeikan though, but for some reason Ritsumeikan did not seem to have branded note paper/books like that.
Anyway, next stop was the cafeteria. On the 5th floor of that same building that the bookshop was in, was a lounge with a Subway store.
Across from that lounge was another store — this one was the main cafeteria.
They had menus that reminded me of Ritsumeikan, and this made me slightly sad too.
They also had discounts if you ate there before or after rush hour, and the time was actually rolling over from rush hour to not rush hour when I arrived at 1:25 pm, so I got to see a cateferia attendant lady come by with a box of keys, turn a key into each food ticket machine, disable the more expensive meal buttons, and enable the cheaper discounted versions of the same meal buttons. It was sort of neat to watch, and I now already know more about how these machines work than many of the students that actually study here, tabun!
Anyway, this cafeteria had a huge lounge/eating area too. Of note though, this cafeteria did not allow food trays to be brought out of the cafeteria and, say, into classrooms, which is what we did in Ritsumeikan every day. I did notice other cafeterias/eating places later explicitly allow trays to be taken out and into classrooms though, but this cafeteria explicitly forbid it for whatever reason.
Wandering out and into another building, I visited the single convenience store on campus, an actual 7-Eleven branch.
It had a small lounge area with chairs and desks just outside too.
And I was surprised to find the cooked food section of the store virtually completely wiped out. This was at 1:35 pm. I had a good laugh at this.
I was following a map of stores, so I went along to the next building adjacent to this one. There, there was a little history display thing along one wall of a corridor:
And directly across the hallway from that was a tiny little cafe.
Deeper into the campus were three or so more buildings with food places in them. One was this one:
I met another visitor to the school just outside this cafe and took a picture of him:
Near that one was yet another small cafe. I didn’t go right inside this one as I had a bit of cafe fatigue by this point (and umbrella fatigue — it was drizzling all through the day):
The last one was more difficult to find, it was somewhere in the Hoffman Hall, which seemed to be mostly for clubrooms. I initially found this “kitci enette” on the 3rd floor, and fervently hoped that was not what the food symbol on the map meant:
But I eventually found the proper place, tucked away on the 4th floor.
Those were pictures of basically every food place in Sophia University‘s Yotsuya Campus, I think. From the map below, and in chronological order of pictures above, not counting the bookshop (that was also in building 2), I think the food places shown were in buildings 2, 2, 12, 6, 29, 11, and then 21.
I had wandered around Sophia University for nearly an hour at that point just to see all the food places, so I decided to move on. I didn’t allow myself to eat there yet either — that was something I’ll do in the future when I’m a proper student.
I wanted to visit the nearer share house first, which I had noted as just Sakura House Yorsuya 3-Choume, but I ended up at a different one instead, just named Sakura House Yotsuya 3-Choume B (local), or just Sakura House Yotsuya. I had to go down a steep, narrow sloped street to get there, and the entire neighbourhood was really cramped.
So I thought that the place was pretty terrible. Actually, the location with the room was back on the main road near the shops, and was called Sakura House Yotsuya 3-Choume A (local), but I never saw it — this was about the closest I got, a shot of the street of shops that ran west from the University along Shinjuku-dori Avenue.
Though I think it was a little north of there. Anyway I was unaware of this mistake by then, so I sauntered on to the other house. The first was about 10-15 minutes away from Sophia by foot, and Sakura House Akebonobashi D (local) was about 25 minutes away.
The surrounding neighbourhood was actually quite nice:
Though I felt pity for those who worked in this tiny, tiny sandwich shop that somehow also seemed to have an internal eating area:
Seriously, working in that place would drive me mad, it looks so cramped. Anyway, I tried taking pictures of the buildings and thought they were decent:
But again, it seems that I took pictures of the wrong houses — I didn’t realize it at first but there were five houses in that conclave and the one with a spare room was House D, which was off the left side of the camera in the last picture, whereas I took pictures of two other houses. And their lettering and numbering system is really haywire since Akebonobashi House D is also known as Akebonobashi House 3, somehow. So anyway their website provides me with these two (three) following pictures, and I’ll trust that they’re correct, but I didn’t actually notice it while I was there.
My room-to-be is room 201,
That large-ish one on the left, for 110,000 yen or so a month, and it actually can fit two people, so if I find a second person to be a roommate, they’ll add 20,000 yen to the rent and then split it in half for each. Or if I have a guest over then it’s an extra 2,000 yen a night for accommodation fee. They seem to be flexible on things like that though, which I appreciate.
The other reasons I picked this one over the other one, besides thinking that the other one was in the dingy little house down a sloping side street and across from a house under construction since I got the wrong house, were that this one seemed to be in a nice neighbourhood, and that the other one was only marginally cheaper (I think around 95,000-100,000 yen per month) with a max person capacity of one, AND I would have had to share the facilities on the floor with four other people, since there were five rooms on that floor. Whereas here it will be with only two others at most (I don’t think either of those other two rooms can hold two people).
But in the end, the main reason I accepted and paid a reservation fee is that they also stated that I can cancel and withdraw and get a full refund if I tell them so at least one month before I move in, so mid-August for a mid-September move in date. If I tell them after that one month period, but before I move in, then I lose the security fee but still can skip out of the rent. And since its a flexible lease, I don’t have to declare an end date now, and can do things like move to different rooms, different Sakura Houses if one frees up that I like better, or just a different place altogether, with one month’s notice. We’ll see how true all that is.
I also peeked at the computer screen when Ilaria was doing up my reservation and saw that of the six or seven guesthouse rooms in that building, two others were from people checking in earlier in September, so there was a decent chance that both of them are students too. However, by their early September date, I think there’s also a good chance that that means that they aren’t Sophian students in particular, since I seem to have the impression that Sophia University‘s fall semester starts a bit later than other Universities. Still, there are four other houses in that conclave of buildings, and there are folks in there too. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet some nice people. If not, maybe I’ll move into that other nearer Sakura House. Or end the lease and go elsewhere. I could even apply for a University dormitory for the second semester, or go for a private apartment. Or give up on studying abroad and return home.
The other nice thing about this place is that it has multiple train lines nearby. The lines that connect up to Yotsuya Station, the one right by Sophia University, are the Chuo/Sobu and Marunouchi lines, and there’s also Yotsuya-Sanchoume Station, which is closer to the house and is an adjacent station to Yotsuya Station along the Marunouchi line and is closer to this Sakura House than Yotsuya Station is. There’s also two other stations in the vicinity though, Akebonobashi Station to the south of my place that is part of the Toei Shinjuku Subway Line, and Wakamatsu-Kawada Station to the north, from the Oedo Line, which I took today to get back to Shinjuku to process that lease reservation. Lots of lines reachable on foot, which is nice. The Toei Shinjuku line also has this interesting 3-way T-junction loop station:
This reminds me of Jurong East MRT Station in Singapore, which also is at the end of a T-junction loop like that, and was that way long before any other station in Singapore was. Also, this guy got replaced by AI:
So anyway, one thing led to another and I went back to the Sakura House office via the Shinjuku-Nishiguchi Station on that line, got served some tea and a really nice rice cracker in the office, and then finished that reservation. There was some consternation because my email this morning had created a name entry in their database for me, so “my email already existed” when Ilaria was trying to do my booking, but when I had to log in to my account to see my reservation and pay the reservation fee, that “email already existed” account didn’t work and I had to create a brand new account with the same email address again to make everything work. What a poorly written database.
Once done, I walked back out through Shinjuku,
And found a curry place to try, one of the very few good things about not having Zian around, since she abhors curry.
I had some fried white-fish with rice and curry from that above store, Hinoya Curry, but it was actually pretty terrible because the curry, oddly, was very “dry” and didn’t go well with the rice at all. Never mind the complete lack of spice.
Lastly, four things of note happened while walking back home from Itabashi Station. Firstly, I passed that woman that I talked about near the top of the blog post, at Itabashi Station.
Secondly, I had a long, long (3 minute) wait at a railway road/pedestrian crossing because there’s a station just before the crossing, and a station just AFTER the crossing, and the crossing gates seem to activate due to approaching trains even if a train is just parked at the platform waiting for people to board. So this was very annoying, waiting for the trains to be done unloading and reloading passengers at the station and then starting up again and going by the intersection before the wishbone crossing gate would lift up. And doubly so annoying when the other train from the other side also came and we had to wait for the same nonsense there. This happens on the Tobu Railway Line between Kita-Ikebukuro Station and Shimo-Itabashi Station, and the two stations are so near each other that it’s pointless to have both in the first place.
Thirdly, the clock struck 6 pm, and suddenly there were loudspeakers along the road playing a tune. I don’t know what tune it is, and I only recorded the second half of it, but it was still kind of neat. See below.
And lastly, one of the other ground floor rooms on the way to my room was being cleaned, and I peeked into the room as I passed it.
They get to have a futon on the floor! And I don’t! And they have a fancy chair that I don’t too.