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Dorm Impressions

May 26, 2008

Japanese machines talk to you. All the time. It’s like a very verbose navigation system, but also implemented in washing mashines, elevators, ATMs, … just to pick a few. You name it, it speaks. Normally telling you obvious things, or thanking you for using them, or the like. In fact, every time my elevator explains to me that I’ve successfully arrived at the 2nd floor (first in Japanese, then – a bit less verbose – in English), I inevitably have to think about that Aerosmith song (“Love In An Elevator”), with its beginning:

Second floor, hardware, children’s wear, ladies lingerie.
Oh, Good morning Mr. Tyler. Going down?

And before you ask why I’m taking the lift up to the 2nd floor 🙂 It’s the only way when I park my bicycle in the basement, if I don’t want to take a significant detour. And frankly, it’s quite entertaining, listening to the voice, telling you 1) that the doors will open now, then 2) that the desired direction is upwards (since you pressed this button to call the lift), 3) that the doors are closing, then 4) five seconds later that you arrived, then 5) the opening of the doors again, followed by 6) the closing announcement. All of this bilingual, so there is not one silent second during the short trip.

And since we’re already talking about the Ninomiya House (I never know how to call it correctly. “Dorm” is a short thus useful, though somehow misleading term; “researcher residence” sounds terribly stuck-up), here some more thoughts about it:
Well, in a nutshell, it’s really terrific. I totally enjoy living here. Naturally, the interior is not really traditional Japanese (though the “Shouji-ed bedroom” gives a very nice touch ^^), but you won’t find that in any such complex nowadays. On the top floor, however, are some common places, including traditional rooms and a small stone garden. It is said that on good days, you can even see Mt. Fuji from there – but I think this might be a myth. There are several good parks near, especially the quite large Doho Park, great for jogging. Oh, and one thing about the electric equipment that I forgot to mention in my very first entry: You know, heating is always a bit of a problem in Japan; they normally rely on air conditioners which yield a terrible dry air. Therefore most houses feature a kotatsu, a table with some heating element where the whole family can gather. My room, however, has floor heating. OK, sure, I won’t use it, since it’s warm enough these days, but I’m totally astonished by its pure existence. Last but not least: The final picture shows not my building, of course, but a potential alternative that could have been my dorm if I decided to stay on campus. As you can guess, I’m quite happy with my choice! 😉

Question of the day:
If you ate pasta and antipasta, would you still be hungry?

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