It’s been a week now since *Twinkle* ventured off to Kansai, 3 hours west of Tokyo. Last night I could stand the lonliness and isolation no more, and finally succumbed to the randy Natusuko who has been desperately trying to seduce me these past few days, by wearing no clothes and making it blatantly obvious that she would not resist were I to make a move.

Had a great day today, courtesy of the newly-opened IKEA Yokohama. It’s only Japan’s second branch, and having only been open 3 days, and today being a public holiday, it was understandably HEAVING! The traffic jam caused by the store’s popularity went all the way back to the motorway, whilst the queue to actually enter the place on foot was also pretty damn long. We joined the ‘tail end’ of it, as you can see.

The primary reason for my visit was to meet up with Emmie and Russ who had hired a van in Shimoda with friends, in order to equip their countryside residence. Tom and Miyu, who’ve just moved into the Imperial Heights, were also after a table etc, so it seemed a great opportunity to make a whole day of it. I bought a blue towel, a lampshade and 6 cookies.

It was whilst at IKEA that I spotted two unfortunate souls who have what it possibly the most boring job to have ever been created by a Western company in Japan (there’s still no beating Japanese ‘public safety’ companies when it comes to the big prize).

Bag folding.

Here we have a huge mountain of heavy-duty once-used IKEA bags, that need flattening and folding back into their original shape for the use of future customers.

Imagine being told you were going to be on bag-folding duty for the rest of the day.

Russ and I were saying how impressed we were with how well the place was run, considering it’s infant status and the fact that it was overun with thousands of shoppers. I was impressed by the staff who spoke not only Japanese and English, but Dutch too. Oh, and the gaijin employees – I’ve never seen so many before! The ones I heard spoke pretty good Nihongo too. All in all, mightily impressed. Now if only one could be sure that the poor vietnamese workers who made those rugs that sell for 200 yen received such good training and care.

In other news, this morning, for the first time in my life, I saw a man wiping a dog’s bum with toilet paper on the street.

I kid you not.

He was right outside Tom and Miyu’s mansion when we left for IKEA… I really had to look twice. I don’t think he was even wearing gloves. It was a bit tricky to look without appearing to be looking, if you see what I mean. Anyhow, I needed proof that it’s quite true that if (as Tom said) Alien’s were to land in Japan they’d think that dogs were the rulers of the planet, so I took this photo from a distance.

Examining it now, I can see a wheel to the right-hand-side of the dog. A little wheel, the sort that you might find on those little carts for dogs that don’t have the use of their back legs. A disabled dog! Oh no! Maybe it needed its bum wiped for medical reasons, and there was me taking the piss. I felt terrible (but stil decided to post it on TDM).

I got very stressd last week when told of the amount of work that was required in order for us to pass our non-language modules at Rikkyo. Basically, I wanted to take some regular classes in japanese, like all normal Japanese students, but was told that if I did so, and failed the exam (as I probably would as my language ability is no way near the level required to understand proffessor talk then write an essay under exam conditions), then I wouldn’t receive the relevant credits, and thus would not pass overall.

I called my uni in Sheffield today to discuss this issue (Hurray for almost-free Skype! I find it quite ironic that it costs me far less to call university this year than it did last year, when I was about 10,000km closer to the place!). Anyway, turns out that all Sheffield is interested in is the results of my core language modules, and my so-called Year Abroad Project. This is just what I wanted to hear, as I really want to concentrate on my core language modules. I can also take some regular classes taught in japanese and try my hardest to understand what’s being said – but if, at the end of the day I were to fail those non-core modules it wouldn’t actually matter.

*Twinkle* and I may have a look at some other apartments tomorrow, as we’ve heard a couple of bad reports of the company we were going to use. However, time and money are in short supply, so we may end up going for the place we’ve already reserved. It will be so good to live together. After all, regular fantastic sex is what life is all about. Tee hee.

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