May 21, 2006

Picnic in Komazawa Park, Apartment Hunting, Writing Proposals

I've been very busy lately. Last week was a brutal week at work, as I was working on writing a funding proposal for a "Young Researcher" grant. It was supposed to be in Japanse, so I wrote a draft in English, then one of the secretaries here translated some of it, and I translated the rest. While my Japanese is ok for normal email and conversations, it is really not up to snuff for academic writing. It was a humbling experience. I'll try to read more Japanese language academic papers, and try to do more formal writing to improve in this area - although it isn't clear how important it is that I can write academic style Japanese, it is something that I would like to do. It is frustrating fishing around for the words to express something, and just coming up short. A humbling experience, but a good one all around, and the proposal did finally go in a few minutes before the deadline with many thanks to Professor Kando and Ms. Homma, who helped with the translation.

In the past few weeks I've also been looking for an apartment of my own in Tokyo. It has been a trying experience because I've been spending 12 hour days at work, and then on the weekends spend all day talking with realty agents and visiting apartments. I estimate that about half of the apartments that I was interested in ended up not being available to me because when the agent would call the owner and tell them that I am a foreigner, they would decline to rent to me. That isn't really too surprising to me, but it does make things difficult because it reduces my options. In the end, I found a place that I really like based on its location, size, usability, and to some extent, price. It is more expensive than I would like, but that's life in Tokyo. The major drawback: it is next to train tracks, so I will have a constant soundtrack of city sounds to keep me company. I don't really mind that too much though, since it somehow reminds me of my time in New York. A benefit that others might see as a drawback: it is a fourth-floor apartment with no elevator. I like the idea of unavoidable exercise.

Finally, after two pretty hard long weeks of work and apartment hunting, on Sunday for the first time in weeks the Sun was out and Shining, the weather was beautiful, and I got a call from friends inviting me out to a picnic in nearby Komazawa Park. I met up with Maririn, the twins Moe and Nako, the birthday couple Gene and Emily, and soon-to-be-leaving Japan Sharon. It was really nice just sitting outside for a few hours, enjoying food, friends, cards (大公民 again) and the weather. I didn't even get sunburned. How shocking. Enjoy the pictures from my surprisingly competant camera phone.


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