Wednesday, August 01, 2007

On being homeless in Japan

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Due to unforeseen circumstances, I find myself with a non-refundable ticket home to America dated August 24th, and an expiring apartment contract on August 1st with no backup place to stay for the intervening 3 weeks. How this came to be is another story. Today, I'm going to focus on what it's like to find oneself in Japan with no place to go.

That's right, I'm homeless! Again!

Also, I'd like to note that I'm very very tired as I write this. ^_^ I last slept in a bed on July 31st, from 7pm to 11pm. It's now August 2nd, 5am.

This all came down minutes before the welcome dinner for new ALTs (Group A). So I went to the dinner still processing the fact that, after the dinner, I would have no place to sleep. Of course, just about every JET who heard my plight offered me a spot on their tatami, because FJETs are cool like that, but I can't see myself imposing on others in that way. At least, not with most people. There are a few JETs with whom I am comfortable enough for something like that. Am I shy or something? News to me. Anyway, I digress.

So the party wears on, and Karl, who shall henceforth be known as Awesome Karl Whom I Love (In A Totally Heterosexual Man-Love Way), tells me about a new inn in Fukui. It's cheap and near the station. Problem solved!

I drive over (picture, if you will, me in my tiny k-car filled with my belongings. The seats don't recline, there's just too much stuff. Rear-view mirror? Who needs it?), pop in and ask for a room.

They're full. No vacancy.

Since the other hotels are too expensive, or don't have rooms after 11 or so (this was midnight or 1am, and checkout is usually 10am) I was in a bit of a spot. But this isn't my first dance; actually, this is the FOURTH time I've been sans home. So, I decide to rough it in my car.

But....where to park?

Parking in Japan is kind of strict. In America, land is cheap and plentiful. Here in Japan...not so much. Pretty much every parking space everywhere is accounted for. This goes to this apartment, this goes to this store, etc. So, where can I park my car?

My first instinct was to park in the spot for my old apartment. I know my successor isn't there yet, so it's empty. ^_^ Unfortunately, all of my old neighbors would see me and it would no doubt get back to my supervisor, and I'm not ready to bring him in on this. So that's out.

1st try: Combini
On my way down Route 8, I felt like I was falling asleep at the wheel, so I pulled into a combini for some coffee. After I made my purchase, I thought, why not just park myself here for now? Doze off for a bit...

Well, no sooner had the thought occurred than a semi-truck pulled up next to me. Was he makin deliveries to this combini? I don't know. I just know that he sat in his truck, staring at me. Creepiest thing ever. He basically didn't move until I gave up and drove away.

2nd try: Genki
Genki is a drugstore, and on Route 8, there's one with a HUGE parking lot. And since the store is closed (being 3am), it's completely empty.

Well, almost. The Genki parking lot is bordered on three sides by big bright lights from neighboring businesses. But there is the fourth side, the dark spot, away from the road noises. The ideal spot for a bit of shut-eye. That spot was of course occupied by another car. Doh!

I ended up near the road, and while I gave it a good try, the lights and sounds prevented me from sleeping much. So I decided to move on.

3rd try: Freaks
Freaks is a cyber-cafe. With reclining chairs. ^_^ Obviously, this is where I'm writing this. Internets!

It's also expensive. Roughly $5 for the first hour, and $1 for each 15 minutes after that. At that rate, I could have afforded a hotel.

And that's where the story catches up with reality. More news as it happens, later. Assuming I'm not shivved by a hobo.