Friday, March 26, 2010

The one with the creepy old guy

Okay, while today (Alright, it's "yesterday" now, but whatever. Friday) was not quite as amazing as yesterday-- it's admittedly hard to compare with yesterday!-- it was still a fun, adventure-filled day.

I woke up around 7 (still without the alarm), and decided I'd leave a bit early and try to get money to deposit into my new bank account. I headed down to the 7-11 and basically had no luck at all. The machine kept saying that the "service is unavailable" when I tried my Citibank card (which I got specifically for easy withdrawals!), and I managed to get 50,000 yen from my NFCU debit before it refused to do anything else, telling me I had an invalid card.

Seriously? Because it worked once just fine. Whatever.

Anyway, we purchased breakfast there (I got a steamed meat bun, and Joanna and Emil grabbed onigiri), and we met Nick at the train station. He showed us how to buy Pasmo cards, which are basically like Smartrip cards on DC metro. If you're not familiar with it, it's kind of like a debit card for use with the trains, and you just tap it against a sensor on the turnstile instead of having to purchase a ticket for the exact amount and inserting it, making sure not to lose it before you leave the station. Except, Pasmo is actually accepted in (at least some) taxis, and lots of convenience stores. I think buses too, though I haven't experienced it first hand. (Apparently cell phones can be used for this too; I have a strong suspicion that mine will do it, but I am still investigating.)

We made our way to Mita station (without transferring trains this time, thanks to Nick's superior knowledge of the train system), and arrived about 9, with plenty of time to pick up our bank books and deposit money, and for Nick to open his account (he didn't remember his dorm phone number yesterday, so they didn't let him then). We got to the room for the orientation a few minutes early (gasp!), ate our breakfasts, and waded through the presentation.

To set up the auto transfer to pay for housing, we needed copies of our bankbook, so after the presentation we went to the library to do that. Then, we wandered around campus until we found the International Center (Or whatever it's called now; apparently they changed the name). We knew that it was on the second floor, and there was a great, big, inviting staircase, so we went up it. Turns out that was the wrong entrance, so we had to go back around to the front door and take the inside stairs.

Writing that down, it doesn't seem as funny as it was at the time. I guess it's really only valuable as an inside joke. Ah, well.

After that, we set up our computer accounts and headed to the cafeteria. Nick got some Miso ramen which was apparently amazing, Emil got some kind of rice bowl with karaage and something-or-other, and Joanna and I both got the "Pawaa-don" (Power Rice Bowl), which was some kind of thinly sliced meat with a raw egg, over rice. Again, fantastic and cheap.

After lunch, we went on a quest to cash Emil's traveler's checks. Our branch of SMBC apparently can't do it, and neither can the post office (which really surprised all of us; it has international ATMs and everything, and I was so sure that I'd been told they could do it the last time I went to Japan). Our SMBC branch gave us a pamphlet with locations of branches that could, so we hopped on the train for a stop (using our shiny new Pasmo cards!) to Shinagawa station, which is apparently HUGE, as it services the Shinkansen. After wandering around for 10 or 20 minutes (Have you noticed this trend? We seem to do a lot of wandering), Nick decided to call the branch (using his shiny new cell phone!) to get further directions. Turns out both directions that we'd tried were way wrong. Of course. Joanna actually spotted the building name, so we finally found the place. Emil exchanged his checks, Joanna changed some Canadian dollars, and Nick some USD.

We wanted to go ahead and deposit this money into our accounts (I'd taken out some more money at the post office because it actually worked properly, and I needed a bit more for the maintenance fee for housing), so we went inside the branch proper. Nick had finished first and gone ahead, and was already seated with someone when we showed up, so we figured it'd be fine. But, it turns out, that branch didn't have counter service, and they were closing anyway, so they couldn't do our deposits. (Note that we only have our bank books now; we don't have the actual card, so it seems that we can't use an ATM to deposit.)

But wait. What was Nick doing?

Actually, he didn't know either.

We all struggled to keep straight faces while Nick politely went along with whatever the (slightly creepy) old guy was trying to get him to do, before finally we could leave, at which point we all burst into laughter. Nick thinks that the guy was trying to set up some sort of consulting meeting for who knows what purpose (student loan? mortgage?), and said he'd call back later to cancel. I don't think I can quite describe the bizarreness of the situation, but like I said we all had a good laugh. Even better than the laugh about the stairs earlier, which is impressive (You may have to trust me here).

Anyway, we headed back to Hiyoshi after that, on a significantly less crowded train than yesterday. (It helped that we weren't going from Shibuya, and that it was much earlier in the day.) We wandered around this grocery store at the station and struggled not to spend all our money on all the pastries and stuff they had for sale, before heading to Shimoda to relax for a bit before dinner. We (eventually) figured out the TV in the lounge and channel surfed, periodically coming back to sumo, before settling on a baseball game until about 6:30 when we went back to the Gasuto place from the night before. I got the thing Joanna had gotten that previous night, because it looked amazing.

It was.

I don't remember exactly what it's called, but it was a hamburger patty with cheese inside (INSIDE THE PATTY), with a demiglace sauce over it. Plus the rice, soup, and salad. For the same 490 yen. Yes, please and thank you.

We returned to the dorm and rounded off the evening by watching My Sassy Girl, a Korean film that I highly recommend. It's pretty long, about 2 hours and 15 minutes or so, but, in my opinion, totally worth it. I've seen it several times now and still love it.

So yeah, anyway, that was today. Tomorrow we're planning to get together again and maybe do some shopping, maybe go do hanami (looking at the cherry blossoms; I wish the English and Japanese could combine there in a way that sounds more grammatical, but oh well). We were trying to decide exactly where the whole way to Shimoda from dinner, but I think we still hadn't come to a conclusion. Oh well, I'm sure whatever we do, it'll be fun!


  1. Daniel -- I do hope you'll do the posts at least a couple of times a week. They are really fun to read & I like the way you express things!

  2. Sounds like you are having fun! I'm glad to hear that!