Yes, after waiting three weeks till I got paid, and then two thwarted attempts, I finally bought a bike. I’ve christened her Evelyn, because I like to name beloved inanimate objects (my iPod, for example, is Sherlock), and tales of new bikes all being outrageously expensive here were gross exaggerations. I went to Daiki (it’s kind of like Home Depot), because it’s two blocks away, and ended up spending ¥12,000. Some people here got used bikes for similar prices. Mine doesn’t have gears, but I was just looking for a basic street bike for getting around the city, so I don’t care about that. And Daiki includes maintenance when you buy a bike from them, so if something goes awry I can take it in.
It was interesting at first, because it had been years since I’d ridden a bike and street bikes have skinny tires that want to wobble/weave when you aren’t going very fast, but once I rode a little ways and picked up some speed, it got much easier. I’m not a great cyclist yet, and I get nervous when there are a lot of pedestrians and other bikes (note the hard-to-steer-straight-at-low-speeds thing) but I rode to my base school and then to my favourite udon restaurant and didn’t suffer any mishaps. I’ll just start cycling around, rather than walking everywhere, and will be well on my way to cycling mastery before long.
In other, possibly interesting, news, yesterday I went to nyuukan. Nyuukan (short for nyuukokukanrikyoku – 入国管理局) is the immigration office, and people generally go there for one of three reasons: visa renewal, re-entry permits, or because they’re in trouble, in which case I wish them well. I was there for a re-entry permit and now have a sticker in my passport declaring that, for the duration of my visa, I can leave and return to Japan as many times as I want. Visas like mine are single-entry, you see, so once you’ve come in that’s it. Now that I’ve filled out the form and paid for my permit, though, I can go back to the States, or on a trip within Asia, or whatever, and it’s legal for me to come back. Which is kind of important. And now that it’s done, I never have to do it again.
It’s kind of crazy all the things you take for granted when you never live outside of your country of origin. Like the right to go on vacation abroad and come back. The ex-pat world is a strange place, let me tell you.