Maybe I should change the name of my blog to “Infrequent Dispatches…” Anyway, I promised pictures, so here are a few. This is something of an experiment. I’m trying to figure out the best way to display images; please bear with me in the meantime.
I took this photo from my hotel room at the post-arrival orientation in Tokyo.


A question for anyone who might know (Eli, are you there?): What’s the deal with the big glass funnel to the right of the helipad on the closest building?

And for something totally different, this is Himeji Castle. (Click on the thumbnail for a larger version.)


I made a day trip with a few other JETs to visit the castle and the adjacent gardens. As you can see, it was beautiful. What you can’t see is how uncomfortably hot and humid it was. I’m very glad that summer is giving way to autumn.

Home sweet home! Or my kitchen, anyway:


Some incoming JETs had a predecessor whose apartment they inherited, but others – like me – did not. This meant that my apartment was empty except for the furnishings guaranteed by the Kobe board of education. They provided a fridge, a gas stove, curtains, a futon (i.e. a Japanese mattress, not a fold-out couch), an electric fan, and a telephone. Now that’s much better than nothing, but it was a happy day when I finally bought a table and chairs.

This is just inside my door. You can see another of my purchases: a washing machine.

Okay, I’ve spent too much time fiddling with my image editor. I’m done for the evening. More to come later.


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11 Responses to “Right.”

  1. The Drunken Vandal Says:

    Nice place. Though it appears you do not have a microwave to heat up your cookies at night. WTH K-san.

    Take is easy…looking forward to the next post. ;)

  2. Toshikoshi Soba Says:

    I’m glad you asked about that “big glass funnel” as you put it…
    The building in question is the Shinjuku First West Building. The glass tube that extends beyond the top of the roof serves several purposes, though probably none of them are interesting enough to satisfy your curiosity. Primarily, it is an “architectural gesture”. The cylinder penetrates the building at the southwest corner from top to bottom. Along with the buildings relatively narrow horizontal banding of glass, it is meant to make the building seem to exist on a more “human scale”. Rather, to seem less imposing to someone standing in the narrow streets below. It is also meant to disrupt what would otherwise be a relatively repetitious, if not static building in terms of its geometric composition. In a more functional sense, it serves to provide excellent natural light and views to people inhabiting the adjacent spaces on each floor of the building. While I cannot say from experience, I speculate the portion you mention specifically (on top of the roof) is used also to introduce light into the penthouse of the building, most likely some sort of socially exclusive destination. Finally, it likely houses certain elements of the HVAC (Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning) mechanical systems. This cylinder is used to conceal the cooling tower, as these are not often aesthetically pleasing. As is obvious from your photo, many surrounding buildings (including your hotel I see) are taller than the Shinjuku First West Building. Accordingly, the design employs what is sometimes known as the “fifth façade”, meaning that the roof of the building becomes as visually important as any of its other more typically viewed sides. Out of respect of their taller neighbors, and indirectly to ensure the buildings own prestigious image, every effort is made to make all visible sides of the building attractive.

    So there’s that…way more than you wanted to know about your that building.

    p.s. Glad to hear you’re doing well. Keep up the posts, we all appreciate reading/seeing how you’re doing. I’m jealous of your time in Japan.

    p.p.s. Your place is huge! Luky!

    p.p.p.s Yes…I’ve been drinking.

  3. Mr Exorent Says:

    I don’t understand, none of these pictures are of girls? What have you been doing over there? Come on Jonny Apple-San, we talked about this, I gave you two most exorent plans. The next picture post I expect to see girls in that apartment of yours. You at least need to add some American flavor to your place. A Top Gun poster, swimsuit girl on muscle car calendar, copious amount of spent beer cans, you know exactly like your room back here. Oh, right, I fogot to tell you, we hung a Top Gun poster and girlie calendar in your room and have been throwing beer on your floor.

  4. kevinjames Says:

    To Soba: Good man. I knew I could count on you. And it’s true, my place is big. And really cheap. My rent is only 30,000 yen a month – i.e. a bit less than $300. Of course, that’s because it’s public housing.

    To Vandal: It’s true, I am without a microwave. I could try heating cookies in my gas stove’s fish grill, perhaps. It’s the closest I have to an oven, but it’s ridiculously energy-inefficient. I should take a picture to show you what I’m talking about.

    To Mr. Exorent: That’s good just as long as, for the eleventh, you put up a picture of an explosion and a crying bald eagle. I can’t think of a more tasteful memorial. You can imagine my dissappointment when I couldn’t find that poster over here.

  5. The Drunken Vandal Says:

    ‘Tis the best I could do on such short notice…enjoy. :)



  6. The Drunken Vandal Says:

    ^^ Sorry…I thought it would work better than that. Here, copy and paste this in a new window…and then enjoy. I was clearly drunk when I posted it.

  7. The Drunken Vandal Says:


  8. The Drunken Vandal Says:

    Since you won’t blog we will keep making WONDERFUL American items for you to display around your apartment.

    This one is from Mr Exorent. ENJOY :)

  9. kevinjames Says:


  10. Barthe Says:

    Mari was over last night and we were looking at Roger’s and my charts to see when Roger would sell his castle and I would get the 24000 dollars I lent him. Happened to come across your chart too.
    Here are some of your traits in it: Generous, talented at putting ideas into practice, intuitive, persistance, risks, growth/freedom, explorer, quester…..
    No wonder you’re in Japan.

  11. kevinjames Says:

    When it comes to exploring, I’ve noticed that when I visit a place for the first time, I have a tendency to just wander aimlessly. Then, the next time I make a visit, I’ll actually do and see things. Maybe it’s an impulse to get a feel for my surroundings before interacting with them. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but it’s not a particularly effective use of time and money, if I’m traveling.
    I think if I’m making a one-shot visit to a new place, I have to plan things *very* thoroughly to make sure I make good use of my time.

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