It is unconscionable how long I have taken to get a new post onto Mysterious Orientations, but I do have a reason, if not an excuse:  as soon as I got to Japan, I had to change apartments. The old place had been sold by my landlord, and I basically had two weeks to get packed up before my lease ran out. I only found out about this shortly before leaving Canada, and it caused a flurry of both anxiety and activity to add to the typical elevated levels associated with leaving one hemisphere to return to another. Because this was not my doing, the landlord graciously agreed to pay for the move, and even gave me a deal on a new apartment not far from the first one. The new place is much more modern, built in this century rather than the last. It is less likely to collapse into a pile of rubble at the first sign of an earthquake, always a good thing in Japan, where there have been several small rumblings since I got back. It is a two-story affair rather than a single-level place like my last one, which is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, the living area is all downstairs, so folks can visit without having to see the huge (and thus far largely unpacked) mess upstairs; on the other hand, when nature calls in the middle of the night, I have to navigate the semi-circular staircase to get to the downstairs (and only) bathroom. This minor annoyance is exacerbated by the fact that the staircase was designed for someone with a max altitude of about 5’7”, so the downstairs ceiling can whack the descending six-footer right about eyebrow level, a rude surprise to say the least when one is intent on timely arrival to the bathroom.

The area is quite suburban, even though I have crossed the line back into Tokyo from Saitama. A lovely tree lined street, Keiyaki-dori, leads from Kiyose train station back to my place, about a fifteen-minute walk or a six-minute bike ride. At or near the station are most of life’s little necessities: restaurants; a large department store; a grocery store, etc. I have yet to find a video rental store, but I live in hope. Between my place and the station is a local museum, which displays art and crafts from local residents, many of whom are quite talented. The exhibits change regularly, encouraging repeated visits; I am happy to oblige.

Behind my apartment (2nd from the right in the pic below) is a tiny yard, small enough that if it had a lawn, it could be trimmed with household scissors. This in turn backs up to a large cabbage field, which is just now being harvested by one elderly fellow with a lethal-looking curved scimitar of some sort.

The fruits (or should I say vegetables?) of his labors may be purchased on the honor system at a small stand, where an unlocked money box allows one to take change if paying with a banknote larger than the amount of the purchase. We don’t see that in North America much nowadays. There is another field in front of the apartment, not quite as big, in which grows some plant I have seen many times in Japan, but have never identified. It is green and leafy, which is the sum total of my knowledge about it.

As soon as I got here, I had a BookPage column due, and the re-bonding of several relationships that had been neglected over the summer while I was away; now things seem to have settled down a bit, which will mean more regular updates to Mysterious Orientations. Gomen nasai!

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