Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why my Hair Salon is better than a Host Club

Let me take a moment away from my "catching up" posts to my current train of thought.

I go to a rather expensive hair salon here in Tokyo. I say expensive - because the price for color
and highlights is about 23100 yen. (US dollars = $248) No, that does not include a cut.

In the interest of honesty, I do receive some discount as the stylist wants to practice his English - so rather than paying for a lesson, he discounts the fee. I just have to stay awake and ramble in English while my hair is done.

But back to why the money is better spent at the salon than a host club....

The salon is on an upper floor of a lovely building in Ginza. Excellent atmosphere, surrounded by luxury. Entering the salon, one is greeted by soothing music and lilting aromatherapy scents.

The decor is more like a upscale lounge or club rather than salon - each area is curtained off with gauzy golden curtains, the floor is marble, there are candles and chandeliers. The furniture, including the stylist chairs, are styled in a sort of French Versailles mode.

I'm greeted by two receptionists - one a lovely woman, the other is a perfect example of bishonen goodness. Tall, very slim, snug cut suit, coiffed hair, tweezed eyebrows...and I'm pretty sure he is wearing makeup...and he smells good. He dashes to get me a magazine and bottled water.

My stylist pops out to say hi, then go back to the current client. He is also just a lovely example of beautiful male. Dressed comfy but fashionable, cute fluffy and asymmetrical hair cut. Adorably cute face. When the other client leaves, he comes to take me to the chair - and offers bottled water and chocolates. And offers to take off my shoes and get me slippers....Ah!

At this point, the next two hours are spent chatting with him in English while he washes my hair, massages my scalp, brushes my hair, colors my hair, rinses, etc....

Now, key to the is experience, is that my colorists supervisor comes over every 30 minutes to check on his work. Let me tell you, this man is walking sexy...a bit older - say mid or late his life experience shows. And that is VERY hot! His longer than shoulder length hair, his casual walk, his graceful combing as he checks my hair...he usually chats for a few minutes each visit as well.

Now, if I go to a host club, I can enjoy the company of some cute boys - probably all between the ages of 19-24. And we can drink and flirt, for a price! My lack of Japanese ability means I won't get too much conversation in or out. So I am left with just looking. And probably sitting in cigarette smoke.

Not saying the host club experience is is actually quite interesting...but I get all the "host" attention, and in English, AND my hair colored by going to the salon.

I wonder if I should tell my colorist that he's my Number 1 ranked boy?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Journey to the Micro-flat

We spent just 3 days in the hotel. Unfortunately, the beginning was not smooth...extreme lack of funds, the wait for a deposit of final US pay on my debit card, Tokyo heat, and having to change rental companies for an apartment.

Uhm, and our general laziness. As an American, I had been used to driving. Driving everywhere! My transportation went something like this:

Walk the 20 feet from door to car.
Get in car and drive.
At requested location, look for closest parking spot.
If not close parking spot, circle around the block again - someone is bound to be leaving.
Park car.
Walk the 20 feet to location entrance.

Tokyo was nothing like this.

Tokyo is this* Walk to the station...walk to the train platform...train...walk through the station...walk up the stairs...walk to the requested location...get lost while walking...walk back the other way...walk through another station...walk up more stairs...get lost in huge
Shinjuku station...huddle next to wall and cry...walk through the station again...walk down street...finally reach destination...inwardly cry because you have to do this again to get BACK to starting point.

(Note from future self - walking is good for you! Burns calories. See all the thin, dainty Japanese women? Why do you think they are so thin? Because they walk. Now cry, because you do not weigh only 50 kg as they do.)

At last it was the day to move in to the new apartment, or flat as all my friends and the rental agency called it.

Hm, no money for taxi...too embarrassed to cart huge boxes on to train...what to do?

Well, we "borrowed" two luggage carts from the hotel and loaded them with our boxes and suitcases and proceeded to walk. We walked/pushed our items from the hotel to the new apartment. Now, I do not know the exact distance - but I can tell you it took about 2 hours one way.

And it started raining 30 minutes in to the journey. The boxes began wet and started to tear open due to their bursting innards. Luckily duct tape was wrapped around each.

Two hours after beginning, we reach the apartment.

It's on the 3rd floor.

There is no elevator.

The pushing/pulling/dragging of boxes up the stairs begins. I leave you to imagine the agony of getting large boxes up three flights of narrow stairwells.

Unlocking the door, we are home! I, ever positive, find the tiny size cozy. Less space to clean.

My daughter wants to know where the rest of the rooms are. And she is NOT amused that she can reach in to the kitchen and open the refrigerator - while she sits on the bed - in the living room.

Night One

After taking the limousine bus to the hotel (Shinjuku Washington Hotel - "where the cutting edge of culture and economics symbolizing modern Japan blend with traditional Japanese culture" - note to self - paraphrase this slogan when anyone asks why I came to Japan.) we had the joy of carting our luggage to the front.

Having moved from overseas, this was 4 50-pound boxes, plus 4 carry on items. Knowing the checked-on luggage had to be at/below 50 pounds, we had put all the heavy stuff (DVDs, books) in our carry-on. Let's assume that each carry-on was about 35 pounds...

So, we have an old woman (me) and an 11 year old outside a hotel with a pile of boxes and suitcases. No curb service for we grabbed a cart and lugged it all up to the room ourselves.

My daughter is already sobbing. "Why did you bring me here?! I hate this already."

Great. This will not be the time to tell her that due to a sudden drop in the exchange rate, my American dollars have been transformed in to barely enough yen to pay for the hotel, one months rent, and a couple of subway trips. No one needs to eat anyway...

Arrival in Japan

I arrived in Japan in late July of 2009.

The previous five years were spent in beautiful Bellingham,WA - conveniently located just 40 miles south of Vancouver BC and 100 miles north of Seattle WA - in the Pacific Northwest. (Home of the Annual Rain Festival.)

Having pre-planned my move to Japan for some time - I had followed the weather. I started in Fall 2008. Bringing up the daily weather and temp charts - hm...seems similar, but gets cooler at night in Bellingham/Washington State. Winter 2008: good, good. Similar - but a little cooler, more snow in Bellingham/Washington state. Spring 2009: wow! Almost same weather and temp daily!

Summer 2009: arrival. Nothing like a 10+ hour flight in a crowded economy section. WITH broken air-conditioning. Hot, sweaty people. Cramped in tiny seats for hours. Hours passing through immigration, collecting baggage. Daughter is crabby. And hungry.

BUT we are in Tokyo! All else is immaterial...out we go to the Airport Limousine Bus. Sliding doors glide open and (note - so many sliding doors in Tokyo; rarely do I need to touch a door. Genius!) and...what is this weather? This is NOT like the PNW! It is hot, so hot. And humid! I am drenched just stepping out.

My daughter growls. "Mom. I swear. If it is this hot all the time, I am running away."
(note - this quote is correct. In her zeal to impress upon me her utter disgust, she did not use contractions.)

Well, the adventure begins...

Style? What style?

Okay, I'm reading blogs of all sorts...some business oriented, some self-improvement, some fun, some travel, some fashion...

I doubt I can come up with any thing as witty or fun or clever. For several reasons...

I'm not in my 20s, nor am I regularly drunk. This will cut down the possibilities of me waxing poetically about drunken nights in Kabukicho or midday debauchery in Shin-Okubo. My days of public partying are greatly diminished...(this does NOT mean private partying is out...anyone up for raucous versions of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot?")

I can dress a man, but I can hardly dress myself. This said, posts on women's fashion will most likely be pathetic. (I probably need my own "Fab 5" to attend my rescue.) That said, I can most certainly point a man towards sartorial excellence, be it business style or rock...

I am just not friendly! Oh sure, if you know me - I'm loads of fun. But I'm a bit introverted - so it's hard to go up to strangers and ferret out festive stories.

I am a parent. My daughter has been my main job and "hobby" for the past 8 years. I may have forgotten how to interact with adults.

I will continue to come up with additional reasons why my blog won't be too clever, or too sweet, or too "cool."

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's up with the blog's name?

I considered many names for this blog - some fairly unoriginal in sound.

I considered "Apryl in Tokyo." Sort of like the answer to "when do I visit Europe?" "Oh, you should see Paris in April." In this case it is Tokyo. And my name is Apryl.

Then, well...I thought it would sound too much like the title of a blog I regularly read called "Julie in Japan." Sure, she is Julie. And she is in Japan. But it seemed "Apryl in Paris" would be like those AV films picking a similar sounding name to coordinate their "sequels."

('Cause you know that every AV leaves loose-ends to the story line - and those really need tied up! Now that I think about it...self...tied, no - completely different blog experience!)

Then I considered that Tokyo is a wonderful place, at least in my eyes. And it is strange...odd things down the small side streets, tasty cakes in tiny boxes, crooked architecture, and crazily speeding trains. That, and my favorite book is Lewis Carroll's curious tale.

It seemed only fitting that my first voyage away from North America would be a rabbit hole type of trip to a place unlike my own original home. And since, in Tokyo, I often feel like I am too small or too big, too tall or too small, too loud or too quiet; I went with the name you see.

As of today's date, I have been in Tokyo for eight months. I have new things to write - but plenty of past events to put into the ether - so my first posts may be mostly past events, with snippets of freshness. Eventually I will catch up...