I started off my last post stating how payday had arrived, so again I thought money would not be a problem from then on, I put some savings in my bank and readied myself to go to Tokyo on Friday and collect my shipment. This task I already knew was going to be a hassle as there were more boxes for me to carry back on the train in one go. Teru lent me a trolley so I could collect as much as I could in one go, although I knew two or three trips would be necessary. So when Friday came I set off on this arduous mission. I followed directions to the address given to me in the brief email sent by the Japanese logistics company. When I arrived, after going the wrong way on the trains twice, I found myself in a place that did not look right. I asked for someones help and they said “Ahh you shouldn’t be here! This is the company office not the warehouse. You need to go to the warehouse!”. The “warehouse” ended up being nowhere near where I was and not easily accessible by train. So in frustration I hailed a cab.
On arriving at my new destination I was confronted with the task of explaining what I was doing there and what I wanted to several people that could not speak English very well. It soon can apparent that my dream of hauling the stuff back myself that day was not going to come true. I was sat down and had to go through my packing list, explaining the details of every single item, again through a process of broken English and broken Japanese. Lots of numbers were written down next to everything. This process took around 2 hours. When finished I was shown the result of all the number crunching, which was the amount I had to pay in consumption tax. Then I was told that everyday that my stuff is held in the warehouse I get charged and have been charged since its been there. On top of that I have to pay someone to bring it from the warehouse to the customs office for it to be searched, only then could I arrange for it to be taken to my apartment, which seemed now only possible by courier. All this faffing about had taken so long that the warehouse had closed so I accepted I would go home empty handed and have to try again another day. This all came as a horrible shock as it amounted to a disgusting amount of money, more than I had payed to get it sent out in the first place, and not any email from either the English or Japanese logistics companies cared to share any information about this. I was well and truly pissed off, upset and again worried about my money situation.
I decided not to get a taxi back and aimlessly walked until I reached some kind of human civilization away from ships and freight containers. I found a train station and got on ready to go home disappointed. Although it made a stop at Akihabara, the electronics district area of Tokyo. I decided to get off and have a look round and cheer myself up. Akihabara is not only a haven to get cheap electronics, there are loads of geeky shops that sell every type of collectable you can think of, tones of massive arcades with people glued to retro fighting games, and lots of dressed up girls walking around trying to sell you something. Girls in school uniforms try to sell you a photo shoot that makes your eyes massive making you look scarily like a manga character. Girls in maids outfits try to get you to come to their “maid cafe”, where you can get served drinks by girls in sexy maids outfits. I spoke to one girl dressed up in a latex police outfit asking me if I wanted a massage, I declined but we got chatting and found out that she is studying a degree in German at a local university. What an interesting way to pay the bills! Maybe next time I told her.
I decided I needed a drink so I went in search of bar or izakaya. I strayed off a little from the bright lights and found a crowded izakaya that looked devoid of tourists. The beer was a good price and cold. The first was almost unholy, it could not have been more welcome. I asked some guys next to me what was good on the menu as there was no English and I still can’t read Japanese properly. I tried some sashimi and the house specialty of scallops in garlic butter. I started getting chatting with these guys. They both worked in IT and one was really into music. He explained that he is currently working on getting “Spotify” to enter Japan. I was promised that they would show me some of the alternative music scene in Tokyo and would join me when I go see Beach House. I stayed at the izakaya drinking beer with them until it was time to catch the last train home. That interesting evening definitely made up for the, quite frankly, shit day.
Back at work on Saturday I tried to keep a light tone when talking to my adult students about the details of my shipment. When I explained it to Teru he said that I could go up on Monday and try again, and not to worry about being late for work. So all I could do on Sunday was try to forget about it and have a nice relaxing day. I went to my last Japanese lesson for the year, which was pleasant and I was treated with some more fruit and sweets. I went for a walk to do a little Christmas shopping and stumbled upon another nice tranquil temple in a town just on from Kazo. Then returned home to watch a film and chill out in preparation for another stressful day. On Monday back at the customs office I was quickly introduced to one of their drivers, who was definitely the savoir of the morning, as I was told that the warehouse was closing in 15 minutes so time was short. I hopped in the driver’s pick up truck and we sped off to the warehouse. Finally I got to see my stuff, it does still exist I thought! I begrudgingly paid the warehouse fee and we sped off back to customs, where a team went through my stuff commenting on some things, “ah you like manga!”, and were keen to have a look at my guitar, “What make is it?, I like fenders”. It got the all clear and the driver said he would take me directly to a courier company so I could get it sent to my apartment. Then after that he dropped me back off at a bus stop so I could get home. He did speak English but I made it clear that he was a legend. I even got home in time to teach for my lesson at work. Result! …well apart from the considerably lighter wallet.