First order of the day was getting my Alien Registration Card. At the ward office I presented the forms that showed I tried to do this in Kyoto and Otaya but this caused more trouble. It seems you have to de-register in your old area first before re-registering in your new place. With Richard helping me on translations the gentlemen behind the desk called Kyoto and when he returned to us I heard him mention ‘walking’ and ‘Kyushu’ so I guess the lady I spoke to back in April remembered me! It’s all sorted and apparently Richard can pick it up next week. But I’ve heard this before so I’m waiting to actually hear that he’s seen it before I fully relax. As we left I was given a “handbook for daily life” which makes settling into Sapporo much easier. It contains such pearls of wisdom as the need to locate suitable accommodation when you’re moving into the area and to notify your landlord when you are leaving.
Then it was in to Sapporo for a tour of their extensive underground malls. With 5m of snowfall on city streets it’s just too hard to get around during winter, so they solved that problem pretty well. We also took a stroll through the university grounds where apparently you can get paid to study there. If I could think of an area I’d be prepared to spend another 4 years studying it sounds like a pretty sweet deal. The on-campus museum was in one of the older buildings and has that strange smell that goes with it.
At TK6, a bar that Richard’s boss runs, we had a few drinks and I talked with a couple of the regulars. Irena, a russian girl in her late 20s I guess, and her older russian friend, were checking out my site on the boss’s laptop for quite a while. When foreigners meet overseas, usually the common language would have been English but here we talked in Japanese. She’s obviously fluent and put up with my stumblings.
The last thing that night was to walk around Susukino, an area of Sapporo with 4000 bars and restaurants. It’s the night life spot to be in and even more concentrated and crowded than any of Tokyo’s many hubs. We met Richard’s friend, whose name I forget, and went to a snack bar where inevitably karaoke was on the menu. The friend did that frustrating thing of suddenly becoming the boss, or in this case “the chairman”, and order people about. Flatly refusing to break the ice with one of his well-rehearsed songs and making me start. As much as I wanted to pass the buck it’d have been bad form to argue anymore, and I’m supposed to be absorbing the culture no matter how bad my singing is. So I belted out a couple of songs and will try to be more relaxed about it next time.
Word of the day: u-tai-mas = sing