Wednesday, September 26, 2012

house hunting p3

I'm pretty happy with this place, though initially it wasn't my first choice. Or so I thought.

So for my 2nd house hunting, the real estate agent had 5 in his list initially. This list was made around the same time as the 1st house hunting, so they were more or less similar in size, price range and "age", if there was such a thing. After the 1st round, HR refined the list with me now that I've surveyed some areas and have a better idea what I was looking for.

So when Yuri and I met the 3rd agent, he mentioned he had 2 more to show us. I had quite low expectations then, but the fact that the 1st was very near the station made it a good selling point. In fact, Castalia is just opposite the station.

I was pretty impressed as it looked really nice, and they had just had cleaning services so it looked almost brand news. I liked the modern touches, and the various buttons that make life more convenient.

There was even a "delivery box" facility, which means the delivery guy can keep your purchases in a mailbox which can be retrieved with a password. Usually you're supposed to be at home when delivery is made, but this is great since I'm out most of the time.

I like how they do the cleaning so professionally. Even covered the wash sink, bathtub, toilet, kitchen sink with plastic.

The 2nd was also new to the list, and was similarly built as the 1st. Both were less than 10 years old, so was more to what I was looking for. I think having lived in Watanabe-san's house spoilt me, it had everything, and more! I doubted I would get anything exactly the same again, but having newer things meant lighter colours which translates to lighter mood.

However, there was construction happening just opposite the block, and I wouldn't know how it would turn out. Would I be facing someone else's balcony? Will that block my view and any good sunlight when I dry my clothes?

It had modern touches for the bathtube and sink, with ample space and cabinets. Also opposite the kitchen, so I guess all the water-related activities are all in one place!

Residia is similar to Castalia in many ways, except that instead of IH, it has a stove. Good for wok dishes, but maybe not good for me forgetful sometimes! When I'm busy multitasking I forget I have the water boiling, I've burnt my mum's pot a few times :D

Most newer Japanese homes have all these buttons for various functions - indoor blower, temperature for bathtub water, to answer your visitor's call, and even to check that the level of water in the water heater.

The 3rd, Taisei Housy is located very near to the Sannomiya station, so it's in one of the older buildings. Interesting part is it was meant for patients of the clinic downstairs, so it kinda reminded me of being in hospital!

There are low handles everywhere and large spaces good for wheelchairs to move around. Very thoughtful. Even the entrance is a huge sliding door rather than those that you open to the side.

The toilet here is the most advanced compared to the rest, the seat automatically flips up when motion is detected.

The funny thing is it has a HUGE balcony, which is bigger than the room itself. Quite a nice view, but I wondered what I'd do with such a large space outside. Have a tent and rent out to campers? There's glimpses of the mountain though.Would be lovely to have garden tables and chairs for teatime.

The 4th was slightly older, near some shopping street in Sannomiya. This one did not have elevator and was on the 4th floor. It has darker colours.

Quite huge space with 2 rooms, and ample space for cooking too. They even put up wall paper for the different sections with a little explanation for the design!

Even the toilet wall gets its own wall colour. Very clean but unfortunately wouldn't be too convenient with no elevator nor security. Plus point is it's just opposite a sento (public bath). I guess if I do make it to the sento, I would sweat again on the way back to the room!

The 5th one, was also not in the original list. Pretty impressive I must say, this one. It's one of the largest with almost 35m2 of space and located nearer to Shin-Kobe. Also quite new and has modern touches.

It even has a little TV monitor at the bathtub! Now you can enjoy a soak while watching the latest Japanese drama. Or maybe put on some music while sipping some bubblies.

It has a sliding door that can open up to make a larger space, or closed up to have a kitchen and dining area.

This one too faced the mountain, and you can even see the cable car right at the top. I really liked this, I could imagine hosting friends and having some parties even. The balcony goes all around to the side since it's a corner lot.

Puresir is the most expensive of all, due to its location and size. When we went downstairs to check out the parking lot, I couldn't help but notice that potential neighbours owned X3 and Lexus. So maybe I can't go around in old shabby clothes!

So after having a look at many nicer ones, I couldn't help but compare the following ones to the previous. The 6th is a bit old, which was okay. Just that the design of the apartment was a bit funny. Like a far corner for the kitchen. What if I want to make Milo in the middle of the night?

Also nice view of the mountain. Not much development in the area, so this should stay intact.

The bathroom and toilet are at the other end and near the entrance. There is a separate room which is also on the other end. Not a very convenient design though. Plus, no modern touches!

The 7th, was located in Motomachi, which is Kobe's Chinatown. It's right in the middle of the shopping street in fact. If you've been to one of those covered shopping street, imagine Petaling Street, it's like living upstairs on the shoplot. So the view isn't that great, you can see lots of roofs and grills and pipes!

But once you're in there, it doesn't feel noisy. Plenty of sunlight and white spaces. Similar to Puresir, you can slide the doors to make a bigger space.

Also nice kitchen with modern touches. Plenty of space for cooking equipment and cutleries.

This is the entrance to the apartment. So when you come down to throw the rubbish you can't be in house clothes. There will be lots of people walking around shopping! 

The last one is a little far, in fact it needs a few stops on the train after the city centre. There's some Buddhist "temple"opposite.

This was in the list because a lot of our office employees apparently live here too. So it might be convenient to have colleagues in the same building? Depends on how often you want to see them!

This may not be that new, but it comes furnished with some simple furniture and electrical equipment. Cosy but also no elevator and security.

This one comes with carpet too! Would be good for winter. It's in a very residential area, so lots of houses nearby, parks and schools.

But maybe not that convenient coz it's not near to the city centre and where I work. Also I still preferred something newer. Or maybe it's because the older ones tended to have funny colour schemes, stains that can't be cleaned, or darker wood that makes the room a little gloomy. Of course security and convenience is top for me.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

welcome at chaki

The 2nd welcome party was together with Hinakura-san, who joined the team from another within the same department.

So happened that day was just the day before the summer holidays began. I was surprised to find most of my colleagues cleaning their desks, throwing away rubbish, as if they were going on a long holiday.

Before we called it a day, the IT head gave a speech, thanking everyone for their good work all these while. He also announced recent department movements. So I had to say a short speech, in English of course. I wondered how many of them understood what I had just said!

Then we had drinks and snacks courtesy of the department. I wonder if they do this before the winter break too.

Moving on to food! We had dinner at Chaki, an izakaya near the Sannomiya station. Appetiser was salad in seaweed in thousand island dressing.

Main dish was very well presented. Too pretty to eat. It's so fresh that even the uni (sea urchin) tasted so good. I'd normally shy away because of its texture, in fact it's not for everyone. But I helped myself to several servings.

Some of my colleague at the other table in the background. Like many eateries in Japan, this was a tiny place no bigger than 20m3 but served fantastic food. 

With one of the team managers and the IT head. When Honma-san heard I was planning to buy a bike, he offered to give me one. I'll show the picture of my new toy later :)

Just when I thought sashimi was all we were going to have (which is just nice actually!), there came a grilled fish. Simply grilled, served with grated radish with a dash of salt and lemon. My stomach is making noise again.

Some can opt to sit at the bar top and watch the chef in action. One wonders how little eateries can survive serving just 30 people or less when the kitchen takes up almost the same amount of space as the seats for customers!

We had a 3rd welcome party when my supervisor finally came back from his travels, but the setting was not too conducive for taking pictures. It was katsu kotsu - deep fried food on sticks. Similar to satay-style, but has crispy texture.

It sure felt good to have so many welcome parties (though not all are really just for me!), at least my meals are taken care of :) And now I know where to bring any of you if you drop by.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

welcome at mother

How can I forget to share pictures of more food? 

I was surprised when one of my team members invited me to the IT Girls Dinner gathering during my first week. I thought it was just one of their usual gatherings, so I agreed to join them. Later only did I realise it was a welcome dinner for me!

My direct supervisor was still traveling when I arrived, so I did not have the opportunity meet up with him during my first day. However I started to get to know the people on the team.

To think that the Chinese have their 8 course dinner, the Japanese course meal is as elaborate if not more. Since I was the guest, I was not aware of how "grand" the meal would be.

The restaurant could fit the most 30, and our table was the biggest taking up the most space. So did not expect perhaps than a simple set meal.

But the food just kept coming and coming that I had to ask my colleague how many more were to come. I felt a bit bad having to pause everyone from eating everytime I wanted to take pictures but I'm glad taking pictures is so Japanese!

Of course I'm not complaining, they were all delicious! It's always fun to have a little of everything, especially if these are Japanese fusion food. Think it's not such a good idea to post food pictures in the middle of the night when there's no mamak in the vicinity.

I don't remember what exactly I ate, but since it was my first week in Kobe and not knowing anyone it was nice to be able to have scrumptious food while the grrls tried to converse in English with me. They were keen to practice their English while I tried to respond in my equally broken Japanese!

Let me quickly go through the list of food we had before my stomach make louder noises : sashimi appetizer with fried garlic chips, cold dish of chicken and potato wrapped in jellied ham, buttered corn on the cob, minced tuna burger with seaweed, parma ham salad with avocado, nanba fried chicken in spicy mayo dressing, seared (cod?) fish with grilled vege, spaghettini in tomato sauce...

If you notice, they all have very different ingredients, cooked and served in various ways and yet balanced in colour and tastes.

At the end of it, the waitress presented a plate of assorted cakes for me. So cute ya! (^.^)/ It was a perfect end to the splendid meal. Sweet tooth or not, it's hard to resist something so cute.

At the same time, another colleague was also presented a similar plate. Waka-san had just joined a few months before me, but they did not have a proper welcome party for her, so we were both officially welcomed together. 

Presenting the IT grrls in my department. They are quite a varied lot, interesting in their own ways. Ok I better stop writing before the stomach growls.

Oh, just as reference, the restaurant is called "Mother". Don't ask me why.