Friday, May 26, 2006

Immigration, MacBook, My Garden

Last week I went down to Shinagawa for immigration processing. Time for a new visa extension. While waiting for my number to come up from behind 300 people, I took a walk around the pleasantly gritty industrial area the Immigration Office is in. I had to wonder though, why is this building that all resident foreigners have to visit in such a remote location? At least they could put it somewhere where a train would be sufficient to get there.

A coworker got a new, black MacBook. Looked pretty, but surrouned by the black Dell, NEC, and Mitsubishi laptops and displays, it didn't look so good or original. I'd stick with white, if I was going to get one, which I wasn't. Apart from a little bit of web browsing, emailing and blogging from home I hardly touch my own machine.

In other news, my balcony garden is growing great guns. So many cherry tomato plants (grown from seed by Minako) I don't know what to do with them all. Basil, cilantro, parsley and rosemary doing well. Cucumber growing nicely, although not as nicely as Minako's. Sunflowers (also started from seed, this time by me) surging. Moved them from their second set of pots today.

Even my jalapenos seedlings (seeds, me. Not showing off or anything ;) are coming along, albeit slowly. I got about 60% germination rate from the 24 seeds I planted. Not too shabby. Soon I'll have more peppers than I know what to do with as well! My one tiny Japanese apricot growing on my 5' tree fell off the tree today. It smells great, but to eat it would feel like a bit of a waste. I think I'll try and flavor some vodka with it instead, in a similar spirit to the plum wine making kits in the supermarkets during this season.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

IKEA Comes to Japan

So it's been awhile since I last posted- gomen. I've got some interesting content to share but somehow hadn't gotten around to it. Enough about that though, on to the content.

IKEA has returned to Japan after a two decades of time off. Minako and I went to their massive store a couple of weeks ago after we gave the crowds some time to drop off in numbers. We left a bit late and the store is rather far from the West side of Tokyo, so we arrived an hour before their closing time of 8pm. (We ended up staying until an hour after they closed anyway) A quick browse through the long-awaited shop revealed lots of fairly stylish (although cheaper looking than I remembered), quite inexpensive items in the showrooms on the second floor. Unfortunately the actual stock on the ground floor was rather less impressive.

I can't remember ever being to a retail outlet with so much empty shelf space, not one that was still in business, at any rate. It appeared that the hordes of shoppers that had preceeded us had cleaned IKEA out of much of the good stuff, leaving only floor models to show what we were missing. An inquiry with one of the staff revealed that more furniture stock was due to arrive-- in three months time. And no, we couldn't get on a waiting list.

I did get a pair of nice dish towels ("LENDA," Y590/ea.), a pair of "84 hour" gray textured candles ("ELEGANS," Y590/ea.) and the requisite jar of lingonberry jam ("HAFI," Y350/400g) so it wasn't a complete loss. Minako bought a red desk chair ("LOVE," Y4900) and a number of smaller items. Still, we'll have to return sometime in about half a year, when they've had a chance to restock.

Did they ever build that IKEA near the Krispy Kreme in Medford? Near the K Mart?