Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Got the go-ahead on the apartment. Will start renting this Saturday. I figure I will flea bomb the place Saturday and sleep at the company provided accommodation Saturday night. Moving Sunday wont be a problem as I came over with only 30kg and my kendo gear is now at the kendo club in Nakano.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Update for Kendo people

Have two competitions lined up.
September 25(Sun): Local individual comp for Nakano-ku district
October 10(Mon - Sports day public holiday): Team comp for IT industry. Will represent my company in a mixed team of gaijin. Stuart invited me to participate. I explained to my manager "I will lose, but it will be a good opportunity to meet other people in the industry". Anyway he gave the go ahead to represent the company.

I can basically train every day of the week. I've had a few loose invitations from police clubs, but haven't been training very much so far because of the Obon holiday over the past week.
I'm on training for work for the next three weeks so I should get to as much kendo practice as possible. Kobukan starts back tomorrow, with training Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I have been invited to join a company club training on Saturday morning. Other than that there is training at the Shinjuku Sports centre on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights. Throw in the odd police dojo training and competition and you can see that the calendar gets pretty full. Why was I here again? I think I am supposed to be working or something. Damn.

Polish kendoka: Take a close look at the collage I put together of my apartment pics. You will notice one of your countrymen kendoka. Don't know how to spell his name. In katakana it's something like ラファウル

Will add more stuff at a later date, when the inspiration hits.

Unit in Nakano

I seem to have found a nice unit in Nakano-ku, four minutes walk from the train station and five or six minutes walk from Kobukan kendo-jo.
Was introduced to the real estate agent by someone at kendo. The unit is being leased through a second agent, and they all agreed that it was a good unit. Of the four places we looked at it was easily the best.

賃貸・分譲 (Chintai vs. Bunjo)

One interesting lesson from the exercise was learning the difference between chintai and bunjo apartments. Chintai is when blocks of units are built specifically for the purpose of renting rentals. A single company can own the entire block. Bunjo is where each unit has a separate owner and each owner owns a slice of the land that the block is built on. I think this is like strata apartments back in Australia but I could easily be wrong.
Understandably bunjo apartments are generally built much better than chintai apartments and are more attractive rental prospects. The apartment I have gone for is bunjo.

Up front costs

Reikin gratitude payment 2 x months rent
Shikikin bond payment 2 x months rent
1 x months rent upfront
Service fee for estate agent 1 x months rent
Insurance (2 years) up to jpy20000

The apartment is jpy100000/mnth
This means my up front payment just to get into the apartment was going to be 620000

A bit over budget

I had originally budgeted for jpy500000. I had a word with the real estate agent about getting the bond (shikikin) down a little but she didn't look too confident. However, a short while after farewelling the estate agent I got a call saying that as my company is going to be guarantor for my lease as a corporation, I should be able to get a month off the shikikin. Sounded pretty sure. jpy520000 - I pretty well gave the go ahead there and then. Phone call will go through to work tomorrow, papers to be signed around Wednesday, hoping to be in the new residence next weekend.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Lesson for the day

Aids negative is エイズ 陰性
Leucemia negative: 白血病 陰性

Not a reference to my recent work health check, but to a small add for a new home for a kitten that a girl at work had. Why test a kitten for either of these illnesses?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sorry about the picture. It's the only one I have of me in Japan. I took it with my new A5511T phone from au.


Chronic ear problem raised its ugly head last night. Thought it might be of some value to someone to describe the subsequent experience.


I have had problems with my left ear since childhood that have been left to the mercy of the Australian medical system. I've had five operations on the ear, the latest being in 1995.

Advice from the company clinic

At the company medical examination I asked about what I needed to do to see an ENT specialist. The doctor said that that all I needed to do was go to a large hospital and there would be specialists available. This came as a bit of a surprise. In Australia referrals are mandatory if you want to see a specialist. A referral lasts for six months, but I only have problems with my ear once every year or so so my most recent referral has often expired. When I go to see a GP they usually admit defeat after a brief examination and refer me to a specialist, which is fine but for the fact that it can be weeks before can get an appointment.

Hospital nearly entirely staffed by women (...a good thing of course)!

Anyway, it was fairly reassuring to know that I could see a specialist in Japan whenever I felt like it. Last night when my cottonwool bud came back with brown goo all over it I knew the time had come. I looked up hospitals and 耳鼻咽喉科 and came up with what looked like a hospital staffed by women and I knew this was the place for me. I rang up and was asked to come at 7:30 in the morning.

Too bloody early

Bright and early I turned up at the hospital at 7:20. The security guard told me to take a number and wait till the gate opened. 28. After a short time a roll call was made of our numbers and we lined up in kind. The door opened at 7:30 on the dot and I was the second at the "first timers" desk. I explained that I had no cash or health card but that my company was covering my health insurance. The girl said that I wouldn't be able to pay but that I should sort it out when it was all over. ENT (which I now know is 'otorhinolaryngology') is on the fourth floor.

On the fourth floor I was slightly disappointed to be greeted at the otorhinolaryngology reception by the first male staff I had seen apart from the security guards. Further disappointment when I discovered that the specialist wouldn't actually be able to see me until 9:00. The young gent apologised profusely for the confusion, which was probably actually the fault of my inadequate Japanese language skills. I rang and let a colleague know I would be late for training today. The late start did let me have a look around and find an ATM where I could withdraw a couple of ten thousand yen notes.

On to the examination

9:00 and I was back on level four. I sat down where I had been asked to sit at 7:30 with the number I had received at the same time. The hospital was humming by this time. An attractive young mother sat down beside me and told her son that they would wait around for an hour and if they still hadn't been seen to they would go. She kept asking him if he wanted to go to the pool afterwards obviously hoping he would say yes but he wasn't having a bar of it.My number came up and I moved into the 'inner' waiting room. The inner waiting room is a corridor with doors on both sides that reminded me a little of an old Beatles video clip or something. After a while the PA system summoned me to the 診察室 .

In the Shinsatsushitsu I saw what I had been looking for. And it wasn't just the friendly looking lady doctor. It was a big microscope on an arm. It wasn't quite as flash looking as the one my specialist in Australia has but it looked like it would do the trick. The guy in Australia is really proud of his microscope, but I am happy if it gets my ear clean.

The young doctor took a brief look in my ear and then seemed to be telling me that it looked like I had had a cholesteatoma, which is fucking amazing because she was right on. Australian doctors simply aren't that smart, not even the specialists. Then she noticed a scar behind my ear and for bonus marks asked me if I had had a mastoidectomy.

I was feeling good now and only flinched a little when the vacuuming started. I must have looked uncomfortable because she suggested I move into the Examination room where I'd be able to lie down. Back into the yellow submarine corridor for a brief moment before being summoned through. Microscopes on arms all over the place. I was really feeling good now.

Conclusion - need surgery

Clean ear and back into the Shinsatsushitsu. A sample had been taken of my goo for further examination for medicine prescription. I was given some disinfectant drops and some steroid drops, because lets face it the crap in my ear is probably fungus.

Back next week for better medicine and a CT scan. We'll have a chat about the results and I'll be introduced to a surgeon. She seemed to be recommending surgery to finish off the work that was done ten years ago. Need some new flesh grafted in there to make everything genki. Not too sure about the surgery. The fact that she wasn't a wanker like most young Australian doctors I've met was reassuring, but I've got to do some serious thinking before submitting myself to anyone's scalpel. Might do it just so I have something else to write in this blog.

Medical insurance

Ended up costing about 14000 including the medicine. I talked to the nice girl at work who is taking care of things and she said if I present my health insurance card at the same hospital I will get a refund, but I'm not sure how much. Will have to ask work. The health insurance card will be ready this Friday. Insurance cover is also a big factor in whether to go ahead with the op. I hope the story is of interest to someone.