The Midnight Writer - April 1998
by Mike Lloret
I've just bought a house in Kumagaya, in the wilds of Saitama Prefecture. Since there's a moratorium on house building in the city due to a massive road expansion project, the housing lot I've owned across from my in-laws' place has been usable only as a family parking lot and vegetable patch. My sister-in-law and her husband had purchased the adjoining lot and built a small house on it while building was still possible, and we have bought it from them so that they could buy a larger one to accomodate another child. As you can see from the photo below, it's a cottage by U.S. standards; the 2LDK house and two housing lots occupy a space just about the size of a tennis court. If you live in Japan, you won't be surprised that this is something like a quarter million dollars' worth of property.
As I write this, I'm in the throes of moving plans. The moving company guy came today to do an estimate: two long-body 2-ton trucks and six guys on moving day, two guys to pack everything the previous day, roughly ¥250,000. I'm using the same - highly recommendable - outfit that moved us to where we are now, Niko Niko Hikoshi Saabisu (03-3485-2525). I was pleasantly surprised by their extremely professional, friendly, efficient work six years ago, and their prices are more than competitive from a cost/performance viewpoint.
In addition to all the hassles involving changeovers of utilities, address change notifications, and the like, I'd been highly irritable about the fact that the new place lacks storage space for the mountain of possessions I've accumulated over the years. After a lot of playing around with graph paper and little to-scale cutouts of furniture, it appears that one bedroom will be a combination library and storage room, the living/dining/kitchen will be the computer room, as well, and less furniture and other stuff than I expected will have to be disposed of of stored elsewhere.
At the moment, my main headache is connected with the Internet (sorry...I couldn't resist). In my innocence, I had assumed that this would be a good opportunity to change over to ISDN, and I could console myself with the knowledge that even though I would be living in Timbuktu, I'd at least be able to enjoy faster surfing, and with a home network and router wouldn't ever have to relinquish the modem to my favorite consulting engineer. I also assumed that these arrangements would be among the simplest ones. Guess again, Mike.
I currently use GOL as my main ISP, using NTT's telehodai from the house at night, making a local call to the Kawasaki access point from home during the weekend, and connecting by modem from the office pretty much all day long. A lot of asking around, advice from GOL's support people and from the incomparable Naomi at Bricks (please see Pat Hughes's article), and Web searching, has shown me that unless I want to radically change my Internet use pattern - or get another job to pay for the phone bills - I'm going to have to contract with another ISP. GOL's closest access points for Saitama dwellers are either the Tokyo one or the one in Kashiwa (Chiba), both some 80 km from Kumagaya. Not local calls by any means, and not possible for telehodai, whether analog or ISDN, regardless of which "convenient" NTT service is used (no, Area Plus won't get it).
This is the first time I've had to contemplate the ramifications of changing e-mail addresses, and even if I weren't reluctant to give up GOL's highly satisfactory service, I'd be unhappy at the prospect of notifying (or even remembering) all the people, companies, and services contacting me at my firstname.lastname@example.org address. It looks as if the least expensive option is to use ODN; they'll have a Kumagaya access point just when I move in early May. Or maybe a miracle will happen.
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