… and so it is that I am now renting my very first apartment, all by myself. Well, kinda.
Matt and I arrived in Fukuoka with our first two nights of accommodation booked, with the intention of finding an apartment straight away, or at the very least a cheaper hotel (Osaka was full of them, couldn’t be that hard, right?). Wrong! Fukuoka does not have cheap business hotels, the hotel we had found was the cheapest there was (and it was still a fair bit more than the hotels in Osaka). We spent our fist couple of days wandering around, determined to stumble upon a cheap hotel. In reality all we achieved was an amazing number of blisters and a thorough understanding of the backstreets of Fukuoka city. We quickly realised we needed to book a few more nights at our current hotel, but were only able to book 1 more night – the next night was the beginning of Obon. “Ahh, it’s ok, we’ll just have to pay a bit more at another hotel”, we thought. Wrong! The whole town was booked out.
Ikeda’s to the rescue! Luckily for us, my host family from Kurume was more than willing to put us up, and so we headed out to Kurume. Whilst in Kurume, we were fed the most delicious foods by my host mum and my host sister Sawako helped us in our search for an apartment. She took us back into the city, to a company that rents furnished apartments by the month (not a common practice here), and helped us sort out an apartment. Our apartment finder was Chinese, so between the limited English, Chinese and Japanese, we all communicated, and we now have a place to live.
After the apartment searching was done, we have a few days to lap it up at the Ikeda’s before venturing out on our own. As it is so incredibly hot over here (not so much hot, but humid), we haven’t really been stirring before dark. But after dark I took Matt out for bike rides around town, showing him all the places I used to hang out as an innocent 15 year old exchange student. A lot of the places are still there, but the town itself has changed considerably – the biggest change would have been “Ichi-Ban-Gai”, the main shopping strip – a new super mall has opened up on the outskirts of town, and as a result Ichi-Ban-Gai is all but dead, empty shops and not too many people about. Wednesday came about, bringing with it the opportunity to join Naoko’s calligraphy class with some of the ALT’s (foreign Assistant Language Teachers) from Kurume. As usual I started out with good intentions of what to write, by the end both Matt and I were drawing pretty little pictures with our calligraphy brushes.
On Thursday we headed to Kitakyushu to where Sawako is living, to see the fireworks festival. The festival has been going for quite a few years, and involves fireworks going off from either side of the bay. The fireworks themselves were deemed “short” by my host dad – they only went for 1.5 hours! After the fireworks, we headed back to an izakaya – a small hole in the wall bar – to chat to the bar tender about potential jobs in the area. Not many available it would appear…
Sawako helped us move into our new apartments on Sunday. As the girl, I got the “safer” upstairs apartment – I’m not sure I got the better deal, the stairs are a killer, really. Must not drink and then attempt those stairs, could be disastrous. The apartment itself is great – small but contains everything I need. I even have a loft! Comes complete with free internet and cable TV – problem is you can’t use both at the same time – I’m working hard on that one.
Since moving in, we have been exploring the area. We both have bikes (I inherited mine from an ALT who recently left Kurume, Matt has rehomed an abandoned bike from a previous tenant of our apartments) and have been using them non-stop. We are only about a 10min ride to Hakata, the main station in Fukuoka, and about a 15min to Tenjin, the other main station in Fukuoka. Great fun, but must be done after dark (due to the extremely strong sun and my lack of sunscreen). 100 yen shops are featuring alot in our travels (have basically furnished the apartment entirely from the high quality $2 shops). Next step – JOBS!
Take care all. I’m now here till at least Christmas – feel like visiting?