We were only able to book our last house for three weeks, figuring that we'd find something else once we got here.
As our week at the first place ended we scrambled to find somewhere new. It was going to have to be a compromise. In fact, with only a few days left in the house we hadn't come up with anything workable.
Then we got an e-mail:
So my friend linked me to your website.
Suffice to say, I saw that you and Todd are looking for accommodation
sometime soonish. And I understand the woes of trying to find a place
to stay in this damn city.
Let me give a quick introduction - My name is Elliot, I'm 24, I'm from
New Zealand, and I live in Tokyo.
Specifically, I live in Shibuya, Tokyo.
More specifically, I live in a BIG apartment in Shibuya, Tokyo.
And if you'd like me to get more specific, I live in a BIG apartment
with two spare beds in Shibuya, Tokyo.
He goes on to offer us the spare bedroom for free. What!? How perfect is that? It's just a walk away from where we were already living.
We set up a time to meet him for dinner the next day. What kind of guy just offers up his place to two random strangers? He must be weird. People on the internet are usually weird.
He walks up to us in front of the 109 building in Shibuya. Looks normal. Over dinner we get to know him better and he turns out to be a really cool guy. We quickly agree to his generous offer to house us.
A few days later we meet him at his apartment. It's not a regular apartment, though. It's on the grounds of the New Zealand embassy. He wasn't kidding - the apartment is huge, even by US standards. Today we went to the gym which is complete with a heated indoor pool and squash court.
Anyway, I'm starving and have groceries so it's time to make some spaghetti. Life is good! A week from today we get our train passes and start exploring other areas of the country.
Glad to see you karma is good.Todd, i could use some help. will email both addreses.
my trip to NZ was great!
Elliot, keeping NZ proud. Well done! He sure does live in luxury as only a king could, stayed with him a few months back and had the time of my life. Hope you guys have checked out all those awesome clubs in Shibuya!
Rook, Hamilton, New Zealand
I land in Narita Airport, Japan, pull two thousand Yen out of the ATM, and get on the train for Tokyo. From memory I walk down familiar streets until I get to the New Zealand Embassy in northern Shibuya, where my friend Elliot lives. I haven't seen him in almost two years, and have only emailed a few times since then, but it's as if I never left. We joke around, walk to dinner, and make plans for the weekend.
The next day I pop my Japanese SIM card into my phone and call my friend Toby to let him know that I'm around. He tells me about a party he's throwing in Yoyogi park, so a couple other friends and I join him.
Nothing about these individual scenes is particularly noteworthy. That's the point. In various places around the world I have enough good friends that I can have a pretty normal life there while visiting.
August 11th, 2011. Chiba, Japan.
A mix of confusion and awe as I step off the platform.
I must have made a mistake. But maybe a good mistake.
Birds caw and cicadas click gently, filling the warm afternoon air with sounds of nature. The train platform is open to the air and on the other side of the tracks is a high fence. Beyond it, a bicycle and walking path leading to a park.
Children are running around and playing in the park, but surprisingly quietly. Very Japanese.