Getting Settled in Japan: More Furniture Shopping

The text of this post was originally written in April, 2004 as part of an online diary I kept before I actually started my blog. I'd forgotten about it until I ran across it in February 2008. I inserted it into my blog then, assigning dates appropriate to the content instead of to the time I actually added it. Thus, these April 2004 posts show up as my “first posts” in my list of posts, even though I didn't actually start a blog until a year later with my first post about buying a car in Japan.

There's nothing here of interest to anyone but me; I insert it here so that it's together with my other posts (which are also of little interest to anyone but me :-)) Any comments I add while posting this to my blog in February 2008 appear like this.

This was originally written just after we moved from California to Japan, so our days were dominated by jet lag, and trying to set up our life and newly-acquired apartment. Anthony was 18 months old.

In the late morning, Fumie and I biked down to the street with all the furniture stores — it was her first chance to see high-end furniture in Japan. She was unsure still what kind of style she wanted to go with, and seeing all that was out there made her more confused. She, too, was shocked at the prices.

She did like one of the desks I was interested in from yesterday. It's a simple flat rectangle of a wood called “Surian Batu” (indigenous to Japan, it's also apparently known as Eastern Mahogany) with legs. The people in the family-owned store selling were very nice (as were everyone in all the furniture stores we went to, some going so far as to beg us to buy something — I guess the 15-year-down economy has hit them hard). This one was “only” $650, and had a more refined look than the L-shaped one I'd also been interested in, but lacked the L-shape and the rolling mini file cabinet. It also lacked $750 extra dollars in the price, so had a certain appeal.

Mom had been visiting, so all four of us drove to Kuzuha (she can't be away more than a day, because Huck needs to be fed/walked or there will be messy “issues” that unfed/unwalked dogs tend to have). It's an hour's drive, and the three had a good snooze. When we arrived and they woke up saying what a nice snooze they had, I said “me too”. Ha, I wish.

After Huck was walked, Mom watched Anthony while Fumie and I went out to a local “furniture town” where many stores were clustered. Some where huge, with many fine pieces. What they all lacked, pretty universally, were customers. I felt bad for them. You'd think prices would come down, and perhaps they have, but they're still very expensive.

One very small shop was one of those that must have been in the family for a long time, and it was mostly a workshop. The gray-haired proprietor takes these huge slabs of natural wood – I'm talking vertical cuts that are 8 feet long by 4+ feed wide – and turns them into rustic “natural” tables (reminiscent of driftwood pieces common in California 40 years ago). Prices seemed to start at several thousand dollars. Fumie likes that general style, I guess. Gulp! We'll see.

At one store I found about the best relative value I found for what passed as a bookcase. Made of some kind of semi-hollow fake wood that seemed to be a bit better than MDF or particle board, it was “only” $430 after shipping. The guy practically begged us to buy it, but still, wouldn't let us order over the phone, if we decided later to go with it. I took his card and would think about it.

Fumie, Anthony, and I drove back to Kyoto, arriving around 9:30 or so. I was pretty tired, and we all went to bed fairly quickly.

Continued here...

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