Where I Live…

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Above is the view from my apartment after a stormy day.  The view isn’t that bad, although I am almost never there to enjoy it.  From the tiny balcony I can see the top of Kanazawa Castle, the mountains, and the M’za department store.  I can imagine what people are thinking – You have a balcony!  I thought you said your apartment was small…  Yes, I have a balcony, but I’m using that term loosely.  The balcony is tiny and used for hanging clothing to dry and airing out my futon.  From what I can tell, people here don’t sit out on their balcony; their balcony has a function and that is it.  Which leads me to the next thing I’m sure people noticed – Why are you hanging your clothing out to dry?  Just throw it in the drier…  If I had a drier, sure, I guess I could.  I don’t have a drier and I really don’t mind.  A majority of Japanese people don’t have one either.  Why?  I’m not sure.  Space is limited and why use electricity to do something that the sun and wind can take care of just as easily.  As I sit in Starbucks writing this my clothing is blowing in the wind and getting a suntan back at the apartment.  Even the futon is out getting some sun!

My apartment may be small, but it’s cozy.  Yes, I have to stash the futon when I’m not using it if I want to be able to walk, but it’s not that bad.  It takes only a minute or two to put it away.  Being small, it makes it easier not to accumulate stuff just because there is no where to put it.  Every purchase needs to be thought about.  Do I need it?  Do I have a place to put it?  That also helps to keep finances in order in a place where there is no limit to how much you can spend.  Do you want sushi?  You can find very good, very cheap sushi. You can also spend a small fortune for equally good sushi.

Which brings me to another topic – money and banking.  Japan has some amazing technology.  This would lead one to think that the banking system in Japan is equally high-tech and that everyone can just wave their phone to pay or some other really cool, no need to carry cash ever kind of way.  Nope, not even close.  Japan, at least the part of Japan I am in (west coast, not urban, definitely not Tokyo) I live in.  There are a lot of places that simply don’t take credit cards.  Not to much of a problem, just carry cash.  How to get cash?  Go to the bank!  Right, except that the banks don’t have the same kinds of hours that the New York Metropolitan area has.  Okay, still not an issue, just go to the ATM.  Did you know that ATMs close?  You read that correctly, no need to check your eyes – ATMs close in Japan. Yes, you can go to a convenience store (a topic that needs it own post sometime in the future) and use the ATM there, but there might be a fee.  Luckily, Kanazawa is large enough that my bank’s ATMs are actually open outside of business hours (although not 24/7). Which means carrying more cash that I was accustomed to carrying back home.

That being said, I actually like the banking system here.  You walk in, get a number, and sit in a comfortable chair while you wait.  There is no counter with everyone standing behind you making you feel rushed.  When your number is called you walk over to cubical-like station, pass the attendant your number and sit down.  It is all very private and in a way, relaxing.  Also, when you get your cash card (not a debit card with a Visa/MasterCard logo) it needs to be signed for.  They don’t just shove it in the mail and hope it goes to the correct address or that no one snatches it from your mailbox while you’re at work.  Now, I said the cash card is not a debit card.  As far as I can tell, it isn’t.  I did use it in a shop in Osaka once, so I’m not sure how it works exactly.  I can’t use it online due to the lack of a credit card logo.

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Where is this crazy place?  It’s one of the entrances to Omi-cho Market in Kanazawa.  You can buy fresh seafood, vegetables, various groceries, etc. here as well as enjoy a meal.  It is a busy, crowded, and interesting place.  Omi-cho is filled with locals, people traveling for business, as well as domestic and foreign tourists.  On the weekends it is extra crowded as the day-trip crowds pass through.

That’s it for now!  Hope you enjoyed the photos!

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