Thursday, February 27, 2014


natasha nakamura's diary

Hey, this isn't New York. How about a bath on the top of our office building, open to the sky? Men and women on alternate days, I suppose (mixed bathing as the province of the countryside is the only instance I can think of where the countryside is more relaxed than the city), and after bath a light meal at the fine little soba shop around the corner. That's the way to build a cohesive work force. Talented people would be banging at our door.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sidewalk fortune teller

natasha nakamura's diary

A friendly call from Hiyoshi. He seems bored. I know more about how to move around Tokyo than he does. After all, he has a job and must hew to his routine, and the city is so big. It's like people from Tribecca have no idea of what's going on over the bridge in Brooklyn. Another world, equally urbane. 

Ginza back streets are a world of their own. I found this sweet old guy who presides over a 6-mat shop where he sells 18th-century Delftware copies of Chinese porcelain, wonderful Dutch platters inscribed in Old Dutch, and intricate Korean and Chinese incense burners. He told me he regularly goes to London to bid at Christie's and Sotheby's. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Graduation, at last!

natasha nakamura's diary

I've pretty much decided to buy a car. I don't really need one as Tokyo's transportation system is so good, but there is an element of carefree convenience to it and it would allow me to roam the countryside. The apartment provides a [free] place to part the beast.

I'm thinking it should be a kei car,  a small car, smaller than a Volkswagen, which costs less, is taxed less, and drinks less gas. Every Japanese manufacturer has a line of kei cars, which are not exported. Last year 40% of all cars sold in Japan were kei

Now which kei car should I buy?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rolls-Royce of scooters

natasha nakamura's diary

Lunch for 100 yen--less than $1--is the easiest thing in the world.

Any convenience store will have shelves of plastic bowls of dry noodles and spices for that price. All that's required is boiling water to fill the bowl and a pair of chopsticks. And the store will probably will be able to provide you with both.

This was my lunch today, eaten standing just outside the store, together with a trio of construction workers. I could have taken my plastic bowl of noodles home, where I could have fiddled with it, perhaps adding a hard-boiled egg, perhaps a piece of tempura or anyway something picked up for the purpose in the food basement of a department store.

Now I'll just have to compare the bowls of noodles offered by the dozens of makers, to find the best. More on this later. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lamp over door of noodle shop

natasha nakamura's diary

I find it a challenge to live in a small space, as I am used to living in (slightly) larger spaces. But the problem has not been addressed with imagination here. In a small apartment, the couch should be the bed. There should be storage space on the roof or in the basement. The doors of the refrigerator should be transparent so you could see exactly where everything is without opening the door and anyway the refrigerator in a tiny apartment should only have to hold the ingredients of a good breakfast (the coffee pot should be built in) and maybe a hearty soup. As a rule, you should eat out and consider the cost part of the rent.

Audio and TV and computer should all be built in too. Telephone calls should be answerable simply by talking loudly, so no receiver would be necessary. Gardens, showers, and perhaps even toilets should  be shared, which should free up enough room so the complex could share a little garden. You'll go to the  public bath, of course, when you want to soak. 

A major problem remains: what to do with the magazines and books acquired but not yet read. Some discipline required here, that's all.   

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sidewalk sculpture

natasha nakamura's diary

This year I was deluged with Christmas cards from Paris and New York, mostly from people only vaguely remembered. My strategy to defend myself against this barrage next year is to wait until shogatsu, then send everyone a pointedly relaxed shogatsu card explaining this is the way we do things in Japan. Next year if I get around to it I'll computerize the whole shebang so I can send out my answering volley of shogatsu cards (perhaps with a computerized facsimile of my own handwriting) at the press of a button.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

One of the 180 used-book stores in Jimbocho.
One store specializes in books in Latin and Greek.

natasha nakamura's diary

Dinner with Tim. He told me that he has a medical problem and has to have an operation. He asked his New Zealand insurance company if they would cover medical costs incurred in Japan and they told him  they would prefer to fly him to Auckland, have him operated on there, and put him up in an Auckland hotel for as long as required. Evidently doing this would be cheaper than having the operation done in Tokyo.

I wonder what it would be like to get a job as a commodities trader or some sort of wheeler-dealer in the Tokyo stock market... I think I'd be good at it.