Our apartment is tiny by American standards; it is no bigger than my freshman dorm room at the University of Richmond. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.
The apartment building is about 100 meters east of the South exit of the Takaoka train station. On the night that I arrived, had Emily been a World Class sprinter, she could have run from her apartment to the station in 9.46 seconds.
The name of the building is FISTA. I have no idea what that means. It is a four story apartment building with several apartments on each floor.
There is a single entrance for all of the apartments. It is on the East side of the building. You walk under a little archway that has FISTA (and some Kanji) written on it and enter a covered foyer where you find everyone's post box and a glass sliding door. I find it interesting that none of the post boxes are locked. I guess they don't have a problem with identity theft in this country.
In order to unlock the sliding glass door you have to insert your key into a panel on the wall. The door automatically opens and automatically closes.
The hallways and the stairs leading to all of the apartments are all open air. Our apartment is on the second floor. The doors all look the same; they are all the same color and they are all really small. Emily has a postcard of Siesta Key on our door, so it should be easy to find us.
Opening the front door leads into a tiny room about the size of a bedroom closet. There are some cabinets to one side that we are currently using for storage. You are meant to take off your shoes and leave them in this room. Emily doesn't get that concept.
A door on the other side of the closet leads to the rest of the apartment. As I describe it, try to keep in mind that our whole apartment is the size of a large college dorm room.
The apartment opens with the tiniest of hallways. Face right from the front door, take three large steps, face left, and you can see everything our apartment has to offer...except for the bathroom, which is directly behind you.
Click HERE to see a video about the bathroom.
From where you are standing in the apartment you can look directly out of the double glass doors opening up to the balcony, which is on the far side of the room. Immeadiately to your right is a closet with a door. It is about the size of the shoe room, no bigger than a closet. Open the door, and instead of a closet, you find the toilet and 20 rolls of toilet paper stacked neatly in one corner.
From where you are standing, immeadiately on your left, just in front of the hallway where you just entered, is a small room with tatame floors and a double paperscreen door. That is our bedroom. It is very simple. It has a small mattress on the floor and some shelves and a little closet to store our clothes.
If you move so that you are sitting in our bedroom and look out while opening one of the paperscreen doors, you will look directly into our kitchen, which is only big enough to fit one person. It is separated by the rest of the apartment by a little counter, which doubles as a kitchen counter and kitchen table.
The kitchen has everything we need. There is a washing machine, but no dryer. We have to dry our clothes by hanging them on the balcony. Right next to the washing machine there is a small fridge, with an even smaller freezer. We keep a toaster on top of the fridge and a coffee pot on top of the toaster. There are some cabinets above and a few shelves to the side where we store all of our dishes, glasses, and food that doesn't need to be refrigerated.
The sink and the range are part of the counter. There is no oven, only two gas burners. There is a fan above the range. It looks like the fan you would have above your oven and range in the United States. On the side of the counter that doubles as our kitchen table we have two stools.
The rest of the apartment, what I would call the living room, is barely bigger than a King size bed. We have a little mat in the middle of the floor that keeps our toes from turning into little blocks of ice in the morning. On one side of the room, the same side as the kitchen, we have our TV and some shelves with books and photographs.
On the other side of the room there is a little bed that is so small that Kevin probably wouldn't be able to sleep on it. It is our couch. It has three big pillows and Emily's monkey on it.
We keep the yellow curtains covering the double doors leading out to the balcony closed most of the time. In the morning when the sun shines through the curtains it fills are small home with bright yellow light. It is very charming.
It may sound small when I describe it, but the apartment has everything we could ever need. Emily and I don't mind living so close together and, although I haven't asked her directly about it, I think we both prefer it that way.
Our view might not be the most majestic view in all of Japan, but we live in a great neighborhood. It is very convenient living so close to the train station and we are about a block away from the grocery store, which is like a Super Target, Big K Mart, and Super Wal Mart all rolled into one, complete with a McDonalds and movie theater. There are also literally hundreds of quaint little mom and pop restaurants EVERYWHERE. Best of all, we are a short five minute walk away from the most amazing park. We hiked through it yesterday and enjoyed the changing colors of the foliage.
It really is a fun little apartment and I'm really going to enjoy living here. I've only been here for about 24 hours and it is already starting to feel like home.
Now if I can only learn to read and write the language...