This is a little thing I wrote up around the 7th. It’s mostly me blithering on about what the bedroom in Ageo looked like, since I don’t and won’t have any pictures of it to share with you. Consider it a travelogue of a square, if you want.
In practical dimensions, the room was six tatami mats. As I think I’ve mentioned here before, the tatami mat is the traditional flooring in Japan and a unit of measurement – something like 1.5 meters or so by 85 centimeters or so. So a bedroom whose floor is six of those things isn’t so big, but it’s not a Manhattan closet, either.
The walls surrounding the floor, which was really hard wood covered by an unremarkable light gray rug, were some kind of stucco-esque material. I don’t remember rightly if they were stuccoed or if they just looked like they had that same slightly rough texture to them or if my notoriously feeble memory has given them that texture, but there you go. The walls were an off-white as equally unremarkable as the rug’s gray.
The rug was slightly less than six mats, so it was invariably bunched up in one corner or another. The unremarkable gray-dirty-light-beige color was interrupted by thick cords of what some colorblind buffoon must’ve thought was a matching tan, running across the body of the rug like plaid. It looked like a really boring and overcooked stif-fry, and every time I saw it my stomach churned the same way it did when I was presented with a pair of linen pants.
Dangling from the center of the ceiling was a lamp with two painfully bright circular halogens and a little nub of a circular night-light in the middle. Pull the string hanging down once, and you spend the next five minutes looking for those hideous square plastic sunglasses from the last time the optometrist dilated your eyes. The possibility of permanent retinal damage flickers across your mind.
Another pull and one of the two solar-strength halogens mercifully goes dark. A third yank turns both off and leaves the little erect nipple of a nightlight faintly glowing a nauseating tallow.
There was a brown wooden door with a cheap and heavily tarnished L-shaped handle. The room was only slightly rectangular, so place the door on the western wall in the northwest corner. The door opened inward from a short, narrow and dark hallway that connected the living room and kitchen with the front door. On the other side of the living room were two more bedrooms.
When the brown door was fully open, it banged against one of two metal doors on the northern side of the room; they were the frigid sentries to my spacious closet.
My futon laid flush against the southeast corner. Futons in Japan are more simple than their Westernized counterparts. There’s an undermattress that’s firm with some give, there’s the mattress itself – a kind of thick, dense, less flexible quilt. The sheet for it is more like a comforter cover than a fitted sheet. The futon quilt is unremarkably standard.
My futon was comfortable enough, although the pillow was a bit flimsy for my tastes so I procured a second. Looked at from the side, you’ve got a long, thin layer cake of bedding. Notice the lack of fancy frames that easily convert into couches for Western consumption.
Above the futon and stretching across the southern wall of room was a window. Directly above the window was a heater/air conditioner unit. Given the Japanese penchant for eschewing insulation in their buildings, and given the physics of hot air, and keeping in mind the location of the heater vis-a-vis the window, the room was a goddamn pain in the ass to get warm on those cold Saitama nights.
It got so cold in late autumn that I’d just leave the poor heater on all night, a big contrast to those oil-burning days in Boston. There, I’d turn on the heat when I got home from work, and it down to 60 degrees F or just off when I went to bed.
Truly, a fugly room.
Now, back on January 7th, I was in a bit of a funk and the emotional weather forecast would’ve sounded like a typical Boston winter day: gloomy and dark, the the colorless gray wash of inner city housing. I certainly didn’t feel like writing, yet when I put pen to paper the above drivel is what came out.
This marked a drastic change in my life: before, if I didn’t feel like writing, I didn’t. There were points in my adolescence (which by my calendar ended around age 22 and my parents think is probably still going strong) where I went years without writing. And yet I found myself committing the act. All of which means that you may see more ramblings describing the banalities of everyday life here.
Or you may not.