Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Entryway

Now, for the one you've been waiting for...the entryway! Excitement abounds! Anyway, it's not the most exciting thing in the house, but it is the first thing you see when you get here, and it does have some interesting differences from most American entrances. First of all, let me show you what the whole house looks like from the outside:

Note that the buildings directly adjacent on either side are about four inches away. I guess I should be measuring in metric, but I still don't understand it! The buildings are not connected in anyway, but they are literally four inches apart, the whole length of the building. We even have windows that open up, and all you see is the wall of the building next to you. Anyway, there is a garage on the right where Kendra parks her bike, and we put extra garbage that we don't know what to do with. To the left is the gate and the doorway. Let's take a closer look:

This gate/door combination is actually very similar to several other houses on the block, which made it hard at first to find the right one. But I got it now. As you can see, this gate is a state of the art defense system that holds out any intruders (Because Japan is full of intruders [they may not have sarcasm in this country, but I still have it]). But if the gate doesn't stop them, the locking system will, and I'm not kidding about this. The door has two locks, in case one might fail:

See, there is a lock at the top and bottom of the door handle. You'd think you could just use one, to be quicker, but then we you have to open it from the outside, it becomes a guessing game, and you end up locking the unlocked part and it just gets complicated, so at this point, I've succumbed to using both locks, at all times. If those two locks aren't enough to keep enemies at bay, there is also this little bugger:

Just flip the steel loop over, and nobody can get in, not even with a key. So, our triple lock system keeps us safe from the brutally rough neighborhood we live in. Now we don't have to worry about the six year olds that hang out in the alley busting in.

Okay, once inside the house, there is a very important step that you must take in every Japanese house you go into. You have to take off your shoes! To bring dirt into the house is among the greatest of taboos. Every Japanese house I've been in has been equipped with a single step up into the house. You leave your shoes off at the bottom, and you put your slippers on at the top. You can never walk on the bottom with slippers, and you can never walk on the top with your shoes on. Here's what it looks like:

This little area is known as the Genkan. Don't tell anyone, but when we have American friends over, we don't make them follow the rules. Shhhh. We often don't ourselves, although the colder temperatures are leading me to wear the slippers more often. But to a Japanese person, these rules are dire. To illustrate, let me give you a brief anecdote. When we were first staying with our host mother, Tanigawa-san, Kendra was away at class, and I was left at home helping her run errands. One of the first things we did was go to a friend's house to get a new sofa to put into our house. Keep in mind that Tanigawa-san is a 62 year old woman. She and I carried a sofa out of a house and into another, and each time we crossed this threshold, she stopped to take off slippers and put on shoes, take off shoes to put on slippers, and I followed suit, for fear of being exported. Here is a 62 year old woman kicking off shoes and putting on slippers while holding a couch. If that wasn't enough, the same week, we did the whole bit again, with a refrigerator! I almost died trying to put on tennishoes without my hands, while holding a fridge. But you just don't go down the step without shoes on. It's a cardinal sin. Anyway, you might be wondering, where does everyone put there shoes if they have to take them off? I'll show you:

These handy cupboards have ample room for Kendra's countless shoes, and our half-dozen umbrellas. It's actually quite handy. And when shut, the entrance looks quite nice. So that's the entryway. Exciting stuff.
Also, I have an edit to the "Toilet" post. Upon further inspection, I've come to find that the yellow button with wavy lines is not for the seat heater, but is actually the hot air blower for drying yourself off. The red button isn't the air blower, but actually an alternate water sprayer. You see, the blue one is a jet stream for deap cleansing, and the red one is more of a sprinkler. The seat heater is controlled by a dial behind a plastic door. Hope that clears things up. And no, I generally don't use the buttons.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I LOVE peanut butter. I frequently eat the stuff out of the jar with a spoon. life without it is hardly life at all. don't you guys agree?