2007 October 2
Some observations from the day, in new blog-snippet format!
I had to go back to the Minato Ward office today to pick up my alien registration card. I walked out of the train station and followed a woman with a backpack. As I walked toward the ward office, she remained in front of me. I took a shortcut to the front door of the office through the parking area. She did not – the walked the full L-shape up the sidewalk and the path directly to the front door. I couldn’t help thinking, “uh, that’s so Japanese!” They follow the rules!!
Speaking of rules, I had a complete 5-year-old temper tantrum last week in the bank. Marc and I had applied for our alien registration cards before we received our official long-term visas. The card takes a month to get and in the interim, we got a “green sheet” (so labeled because the paper on which it is printer is green…) that listed our names, addresses, and alien registration numbers, along with our length of stay. In order to get a bank account, a foreigner needs to have a long-term visa and an alien registration card, but the green sheet will usually suffice in lieu of the actual card. Well, my alien registration card end-date did not match my long-term visa. Citibank said that it was against the rules for them to open a bank account for me. I railed, I shouted, and I cried. I yelled that I wasn’t looking to take their money; I wanted to GIVE them money. The bankers continued to look at me and quietly shake their heads no. I should know better by now. If the rules say that the dates have to match, then the dates have to match. I was still crying when I left the bank. I had just come from another frustrating errand trying to get a new violin bow for Bailey and then it started to rain on me. Of course I didn’t have an umbrella. Sigh. Luckily, as my father taught me, there is no problem that cannot be solved, or at least allayed by Haagen Daaz Chocolate-chocolate-chip ice cream, which we can get here in single-serve cups…
One of the treats of the weekend was meeting a terrific new friend. Michelle is a Kiwi (i.e. from New Zealand) and she has one son in each of my kids’ classes. She has an older daughter in the upper elementary class as well. Her husband runs the Japan office of the dairy of New Zealand. She is fun and silly and likes to drink wine. She is a banker, working for the Bank of Australia/New Zealand, but I’ll try not to hold that against her. She and the kids and I (and her visiting mum) ate pizza and let the kids play for hours. Quite a fantastic time, really. I am looking forward to many such visits together.
Today I had a haircut, my first since being here. I forgot how amazingly wonderful it is. Luckily, Takano-san, my stylist from our first foray here, is still at the same salon, so I got to go back to her. First of all, they use a lap-blanket whenever you’re seated so that your legs shouldn’t get cold. When they wash your hair (which they do AFTER the cut) they do a fantastic head massage, followed by a hot towel on your hairline and another under your neck. And there’s no tipping. I got a fifteen-minute hair-wash for free. And the haircut is the same price as in the U.S. – perhaps less if you include the tip. The whole thing is so experiential – from being greeted by every person in the shop, to being walked to the door and having Takano-san bow as I leave.
Tomorrow will be an early morning for us – Bailey is leaving for camp. Let’s face it: this is not camp like with tents and stuff. They’re staying at a traditional Japanese inn about two hours north of the city – so they’ll have tatami mats and futons on which to sleep. They’ll also have that fabulous Japanese bath (ofura – manmade, not onsen – natural spring) in which to bathe/shower as well as fantastic food. If it wasn’t for the 60 kids on the trip I’d want to go with him! But anyway, I’m hoping I can get him to write a bit for you next week.
Write soon – miss you!