Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Got the company ID!

Finally I have the id :) Granted, there is nothing in English on it but at least I can decipher the カタカナ. Oh and I had Soba noodles for lunch today - except for the awkward sitting position and being sure that I could never order that food myself (everything written in Kanji on the menu), I really enjoyed the food. It was a pretty close restaurant to work too so I might check it out myself at some point.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Certificate of Alien Registration

Got my Alien id today - after the USA, it's nice to be in another country that calls me an alien :P Anyone staying here for more than 30 days (and above a certain age) is required to apply for one of these at their respective city halls. Thank God I can walk to mine since you need two trips to get one of these - first to apply for it and a few weeks after that, to actually get it. As a 外国人 (foreigner), you need one of these things to open a bank account or when you try to get a cellphone in your name. Since the process takes time though you can get a piece of paper that says the document is pending and the bank (and the cellphone company) are happy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mobile Suica (モバイルSuica)

In a country where you need to have a PhD in Mathematics to figure out how expensive a train ticket you need to get for the subway (and the JR lines), SuICa is a godsend. The touchless pre-paid card lets you pay for the train automatically without having to stare at a huge matrix of prices. Needless to say you can also use it to buy things at some of the stores and vending machines. Now they work on some busses (busses that take Passmo) too which means no more carrying change in your pocket for the bus. But this is not even the best part...

NTT DoCoMo, working together with SuICa, now has cellphones which has are IC-enabled. You don't even have to carry the SuICa card, just wave your phone at the sensor! And you just need a credit card to register for the service if you have one of the right handsets (which I thankfully did). When you want to top off your SuICa, you just run the applet and it transfers money using i-Mode. Sooo convenient!
If the Mobile Suica homepage from JR is no help for you (since it's in Japanese), try this page. It helped me get all set in just 10 minutes.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ginza (銀座)

I went to Ginza with my father today. It was sooo crowded - not sure whether that's because of the fact that they cut off the traffic to let people shop on Sundays or if it's just how it is on Sundays everywhere. We went to the Sony building first and saw the new organic displays - 3mm thick! These are not on the market yet but I suspect in a few years we will be able to get one for our homes.

The stores in Ginza are not just numerous and generally more expensive than the stores I saw around Mitaka but they also cover a wide range of products. From famous international companies like Christian Dior or Rolex or Zara, to Japanese brands including Hello Kitty, one can find pretty much anything at Ginza.

We also stopped by the Nissan Showroom and man, it was really nice. They had the new GTR on display and everyone was taking pictures like crazy. The cars looked pretty amazing.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Roppongi (六本木)

I went to Roppongi (六本木) today with my father to see Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. Both were very impressive buildings. Well, they are more than "buildings" but anyway... The weather was awful. It wasn't just raining but the wind was crazy. Tokyo Midtown was hands down the most international place I have been to in Tokyo. Not only the stores had a clear international "aura" about them but also there were quite a few foreigners. I spent a few minutes talking to someone from London who was in Tokyo with his family on vacation. I initially thought he was an American because he had a Red Sox tshirt on. I took some pictures from the top of Roppongi Hills which I think is called "Tokyo View". As it was pretty cloudy the view wasn't that clear but it was still nice.

Of course the whole trip (which takes about half an hour or so from Kichijoji (吉祥寺)) wasn't without a hitch. Twice during the trip I had to change trains because either the train decided to not keep on the same line or in one case start going back.

One of the favorite parts of the trip for me was me finally getting to use my Suica-d phone to pay for trains, the bus and even for the loaf of bread I bought on the way back at the station. I will try to write more about the phone during the week though since I won't have anything to write other than what I do at work and let's face it, it is not that exciting so far.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Starting work...

Man it took me a while to get back to the blog. I have spent the last ten days or so furnishing the apartment (yes, when they say "no furniture", in Japan that means absolutely no furniture - no fridge, no washing machine, no bed..). I will post later about my cellphone adventures with NTT DoCoMo and when opening the bank account. For now though, I will just put my picture from first day at work.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

All set to go!

After waiting for so long, got my Certificate of Eligibility and it took me all of two days to get my visa from the Japanese Embassy in Turkey. Granted, I actually had to travel there which meant spending three days there but I am glad I got the visa and ultimately that's what matters. Well, now everything seems to be set for Monday. I am going to fly from Cyprus to Turkey then to Dubai, Osaka and finally to Tokyo's Haneda Airport. It will take me two days to get furniture etc but it will be fun I think. And on 19th I will start my job at Secom ISL! Hopefully my next entry won't be as late as this one...