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Alicia and I are looking to move down to Iwama in the next few weeks. It's a done deal, putting in our 30 day notice and everything at Heart. I'm really looking forward to living down there, being able to walk, ride, drive a matter of a couple minutes to the house instead of driving 30-40 minutes. It'll also be nice to have the summer off!
That's right, thanks to progressive thinking, Alicia will be supporting my aikido habit over the summer until the Iwama Junior High School contract becomes available at the beginning of September! We did all the math and figured out that averaged out, we would make just a little bit less over the year when compared to our other options. The main reason is our contracts will be 8 hour days instead of 6 ... small price to pay considering the commute we're avoiding would have been about 2 hours daily anyway. Might as well be getting paid for those two hours and get some lesson planning done. . .
So we checked out places in Iwama and wrote down the building numbers of three or four apartments. When noone lives in an apartment, there are no drapes so we could also see which ones are currently available and we could take a peek inside to see what kind of living space we'd be getting.
We're pretty sure a two room place would suit us. People hear two-room and they think, like in the States, that there are two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen but no, I mean two ROOMS, like two rooms, a tiny kitchen and a bathroom. So, yeah, we could consider both of the rooms bedrooms or we could use one room more for sleeping and one more for the desk, books, computer, etc. That's pretty much the plan. It seems that the norm for two bedroom places in Iwama (probably elsewhere too but who knows?) is to have one faux hardwood floor and one tatami mats. The tatami would most likely be our living area while the hardwood would house our sleeping area. This is mostly because the tatami can, if slept on regularly, develop little mites and such -- and the condensation from futons can build up and create an odor. No odor, thanks.
One apartment was ideal, almost within SIGHT of the dojo and in a quiet neighborhood with a bay window overlooking an orchard -- but there's this big metal barn structure next door where they tend to do metalworking. There's a stink of burning metal and the noise of clanging hammers and such. No fun, but the free apartment is on the side of the building farthest from the barn... possible.
Another, probably my favorite, is just across the street from the old dojo, and the shin dojo and the aiki jinja. It would be great to be there as I could socialize with the uchideshi when Alicia's at work and wouldn't be quite so isolated. It's near a buddhist cemetery but I'm fine with that. I used to walk the dojo dogs through it at night and in the early mornings. I don't feel creeped out by it at all like I do at American graveyards (maybe it's because Japanese are all cremated so you don't imagine there being intact mummified skeletons just below the ground like in America). There's also a nice bunch of trees and a wide open field. Unfortunately the only open apartments at this place overlook the inside of the complex, so we'd look out the bedroom window and see... parking. BUT! Look out the kitchen window and see the fields/trees.
The house is also along the path where most people in Iwama take their dogs. People clean up after them so it's not as if we'd be smelling doggie... deposits... all the time, but I would have the benefit of meeting neighbor dogs.
If you're familiar with Iwama, you'll know that the shin dojo / aiki jinja are pretty much smack dab in teh center of Iwama. It has good access to the train station and it would be a 5 minute bike ride to my Junior High work when it starts. I would say this is our first choice.
Next door to this complex is a little townhouse type building owned and rented out by the same company. Looks really nice -- quite roomy by Japanese standards -- but of course that probably means it's beyond our price range. We're looking to spend NO MORE than $600 per month (60000YEN). Our electricity usage should be low during the Spring, and we'll be gone during the hottest time of the summer (August) so we won't need to worry about A/C costs for that month. So... yeah.
We were going to go down to the realtor's office (in Ishioka) today but Mai, our friendly neighborhood interpreter (aka Fred's girlfriend) is not feeling very good. Since Alicia and I have the building numbers of the places that look most interesting, we might see if Mai can call the office and at least check prices for us.
Pretty exciting stuff, I think. With the Thailand trip coming up soon and Alicia's sister visiting this week and next, we're keeping ourselves very busy!