That is where we live. It translates as the "platinum international lodge." The second two words are transliterations of the english and the first is the name of the neighborhood where we live. The name of the neighborhood is fairly appropriate. On our street there are five or six doggie salons and an unscale doggie bakery. There is a fancy chocolate shop right next to our apartment and two more directly across the street. There is a whole row of fancy cafes, boutiques, etc. There are "recycle shops" but one sells used manolo blanhik shoes (says Bekah) for $2oo and gucci bags and another sells used kimonos, but we haven't found it yet. There is one japanese restaurant but we see the waitresses seeing off customer and they are all wearing super formal kimonos so we sort of figured it's out of our price range. Not too far away there is a restaurant supply store that has groceries for pretty cheap. The best prices are for milk, a dollar a liter, which is the biggest size you can get. I always buy like three or four and feel totally over the top, except its not even one gallon. (To get three gallons, which is a normal purchase in the states, you'd need 12 liters). Of course, since I couldn't even get that home on my bike, it's kind of irrelevant. So although it is supposedly a bulk store, the biggest bags of flour are 1 kilo, so 2.2 pounds, half a five pound bag, but you can get more dashi and tsukemono (bonito flakes and pickled vegetables) than i could ever imagine using. Everytime I go I find new stuff though, even though the store is not that big. The latest discovery was peanut butter and jam, both of which was pretty cheap. The store is always packed with gaijin, not such haoles, but Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans.
Lodge sort of conjurs up images of boar heads on the walls, brick fireplaces, etc. Unfortunately, like mansion it is just another English word which has been appropriated to describe a Japanese apartment. We are pretty much set up finally, and have sheets and pillows, most of what we need in the kitchen, etc. On craigslist we found a guy giving away everything in his apartment for free. He'd been here forever and his place was a mess, but I went by a couple of times and loaded up my bike with random stuff for the kitchen, a rice cooker, hangers, an antique vase, etc. Nice guy. There was another lady nearby in these really huge, by Japanese standards, houses by Miriam's school. The whole block is foreigners. Anyway, we went to a get a chair and a kids bike for Miriam, but then she offered to give smaller things, sheets towels, bowls, but then charged us for them. Kind of annoying. And then we got home and realized the chairs were way more beat than we thought. I can't believe you would live in such a huge, nice house (the rent is probably at least $5,000 US a month) with such crappy furniture. Hopefully we can re-cover them. So we paid too much, but I guess it was still cheaper than the stores, which are your only other option. So we still need a rug, a computer monitor and keyboard for bekah's mac mini, and to repot the plants we bought. Also, the guy who was here before us was Indian and probably from a caste that is above touching tools and fixed the furniture they broke with electrical tape, so I kind of need to redo all that. We bought a new flourescent light for the bathroom, which help immensely. Someone had put in a halogen light that was too high wattage, hoping, understandably, to brighten the place up. Unfortunately, the extra heat burnt the plastic casing making the light an even dingier yellow. It also burnt the top of the bathroom, which, as you will recall, is all plastic. So I bought a flourescent light, which doesn't let off hardly any heat and has its own casing built into the bulb and put the burnt casing in the closet.
As four as being international, we far as we can tell, we are the only Americans in the place. I have seen one other European but mostly Chinese and Korean. The weird thing is, for all the talk of its being full, we hardly see anyone. Maybe 2/3's of the apartments are condemned? I have yet to see anyone in the hall on our floor. Our Chinese neighbors leave their door open, so we know they're there, but I haven't seen them in the hall. Whenever I hear someone in the hall coming back, it always turns out to be my kids. Maybe we are just the loudest people? I don't know. I actually asked the people in the office when we first got here and they said its because school hasn't started, but it did this week and I haven't noticed much of a change.
Anyway, I just made a video about our apartment. Gwyn is trying to press the g key. Lets see if I can get it up. I'll put picts as well. Okay, to finish off my long boring blog is a longish, boring movie of our house. Enjoy.