I met the landlord near Waseda University this morning and she took me to her office to sign the contract. We talked business in English and Japanese. I tried to be personable by using just a little Japanese, but when it came to money and legal issues, I didn't want to give her the upper hand and made sure to stick to English.
Here's something that would only happen here. She asked me how old I was and when I replied, "Twenty-three," she looked surprised. Asians think I'm a few years older for some reason. It turns out she was the same age so we got to talking. I told her a bit about my music projects (after all I was carrying my guitar) and she told me she was into motorcycles. I had been eyeing a small tattoo of a wing on her collarbone during the meeting and took it as a cue to ask if she would show it to me. She then grabbed the collar of her shirt and stretched it all the way to her side, revealing quite a bit of skin, her entire bra strap, and a very sexy tattoo of a rose with two wings.
I know what you are thinking I was thinking, but no, I wasn't thinking that. Neighbor, OK. Teacher, only if you are lucky. Landlord... maybe better to stay away.
Anyway, I moved into the house, introduced myself to some of the roommates, and was quick to get good vibes. The place, while a bit dodgy, has a cozy Japanese atmosphere. From my window, the skyscrapers from downtown Shinjuku pop into view off on the horizon. I have a desk, a bed, and a Japanese style closet with sliding doors. My room looks like a place where a reclusive and tormented author would write an incredible novel. This will be a good place to continue my existence as a Tokyo bohemian.
And the best part, all the roommates are Japanese. One kid is from France and is only a quarter Asian, but he goes by Takashi and hasn't yet let on if he'll speak with me in English. So it looks like Japanese will be the lingua franca for the time being. I'll have no choice but to shape up a little.