Sunday, August 26, 2007

apartment hunting, the second day

Well, I spent most of today (10-6) talking to real estate agents and looking at apartments. What an experience! I'm a little discouraged, as there's always something a little off with each one. I'm not sure how much perfection I should be demanding either, so I'm having a constant internal debate over which aspects are required and which aren't.

My current requirements:
* bath/shower and toilet must be separate (a convenience that I'm not willing to live without. The little units that have the toilet crammed in next to the shower/bath with a sink linking them both are just no fun at all.)
* a quiet neighborhood so that I can open my windows.
* two stove-top burners (the better to cook with)
* a "mansion type" place - typically reinforced concrete construction or some variation on that
* a good amount of sunlight reaches the room

* I'm looking in the same area as I currently live in, although I'm considering other places too. The thing is, I don't know what it's like to live in other stations, so I'm uneasy about committing to a new area.
* a separate sink not in the bath/shower room (a sink in addition to the kitchen sink; modular is good!)
* elevator (nice, but not necessary, I suppose)
* auto-lock (means solicitors can't come to your door)
* building has a nice appearance
* pleasant neighborhood

Today, I saw a place with a great - perfect - layout. The hallways were pretty dim though, and only one set of windows (balcony doors facing approximately south). My only issues with the place:
* it's a little far from the station
* the neighborhoods don't have that much personality (kind of urban)
* I'm not sure how convenient that station is (less convenient than my current location) and it's an underground one that has exits facing the freeway - a bit depressingly urban in my opinion.
* It's about $160/month more than I was prepared to spend on a place. It's spacious and I love the layout, but I'm not sure the extra money is worth the space.
* It would be nice to have a more spacious kitchen

I saw another place that was perfect - a ton of cute little windows letting in light, great layout, great location (pretty close to my current place), and good neighborhood.
* It's only slightly cheaper than the first place, so I have the same concern about price.
* The ceilings are on the low side, which bothers me for some reason. They're plenty high enough, but it gives the impression of less spaciousness. I don't think I should care about this aspect, but for whatever reason I do.
* I wonder if the landlady is very involved in the maintenance of the building (this can be good and bad). She seems like a very nice woman, but I rather like the leave-alone feel of apt. management companies. I should have asked her some questions.

I wonder if I should relax my requirement for a "mansion type" place. Regular wooden buildings are cheaper by at least $100 or so.

Alternatively, if I move farther outside of the metropolitan area, I can get a great place for exactly my price range - $160 less than the places I looked at today and bigger than them too. But that's more time spent commuting, so I don't think it's worth it.

I need to take better pictures. At least I've learned to take pictures of the kitchen area of each place I visit. They're different everywhere.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

gin no budou (the silver grape)

One of my favorite desserts in Tokyo is a fluffy, cloud-like concoction of a cheesecake called かご盛り 白らら (kagomori shirara). Made by 銀のぶどう (gin no budou; the silver grape), it has a slightly thicker texture than whipped cream and has a very delicate cheesecake flavor - closer to a yogurty cheese than anything else. It reminds me of a liquid cheese and honey dessert I enjoyed in Paris - apparently simplicity itself, but divine. Sadly, the kagomori shirara has a shelf life of a mere 2 days, so it's only available in Tokyo. If you like cream and cheese, do try it on a visit here.

I could have sworn that I took pictures, but I can't find them at the moment.

Instead, I'll leave you with pictures of another of my favorite desserts, available at Cavalieri in Hatagaya. 渋谷区幡ヶ谷2-6-7 tel:03-3320-7587 Map. Sadly I don't recall the name of the dessert, but it's a house specialty with an Italian name. I need to go back there soon.

Friday, August 03, 2007

hiragana and katakana worksheets, plus apt. hunting

I ought to think up more clever titles for my posts.

I found a website with pretty worksheets for practicing your hiragana and katakana.

As I plan to commence apartment hunting this weekend, I did a little research online and found this blog quite interesting. It mentions some housing organizations that I hadn't heard of.