Meh, I think I'll just post the rest of my "Hakusan Living" guide just in case you find it helpful
(sans pictures sorry)
Everyday Living – Your Apartment
It’s damn hot and humid here. Here are some tips for staying alive:
1)Pack your closets with dehumidifier tubs. They do a good job
in enclosed spaces and prevent your clothes from rotting and
mildewing. These also come in sheets
to put in your drawers or under your futon.
2)Keep all your organic garbage in the freezer until ga-
rbage day because it rots really fast in the heat and stinks!
3)Never leave you futon on tatami, especially during the
summer because you will get tatami rot.
4)NEVER CLEAN TATAMI WITH WATER – vacuum only.
5)You will probably have a tatami insect problem at least once
in your time in Japan. Don’t fret! Use tatami bug spray
which you can find in your local Aoki, U-home, etc. It has
a spike to stick into the tatami – odourless and effective.
6)Air out your futon often and get it dry-cleaned once a season.
7)Spend lots of time out of your house in air-conditioned buildings (library, stores)
to keep your electric bills down. This also applies to winter.
Dealing with Garbage
A quick general overview – these rules change from town to town so check the poster
given to you by your local town hall.
1)Burnables are generally collected twice a week. Your apartment building will
have its own specific garbage bin/area, so don’t put it elsewhere or you could get fined.
2)Recyclables are generally collected twice a month. The collection area may be the
same as your burnables area, or it might be several blocks away. Your landlord should
provide you with a map.
3)There are other ways to get rid of your recyclables! Keep your eyes open for can
machines, conbinis, and other receptacles around your town where you can sneakily
slip stuff because it piles up fast between collection days.
4)Large garbage such as electronics and furniture often have their own special pick-up days as well as pick-up areas. There are also trucks that drive around town blasting a ‘bring out your stuff!’ message every so often, so keep your ears open.
1)When you get here – don’t put your money in the bank right away! It takes a while for bankcards to come, so you won’t be able to access it easily. It’s perfectly safe to carry large amounts of money.
2)You need your gaijin card to open a bank account.
1Have hours! They generally open around 8:45AM and close at 7PM.
2After hours, there is a slight possibility you can get money from ATMs in conbinis, but they might charge you exorbitantly.
3Generally, you can only use your bankcard within the region specified by your bank (ex: Hokokku operates in Fukui, Ishikawa, and Toyama), however many conbini ATMs accept all Japanese bankcards. The only guaranteed nationwide bank is the Postal Savings service.
4Hokokku Bank has a basic English menu on their ATMs, including withdraw, balance inquiry and deposit. Unfortunately, there is no English support for furikomi bank transfers.
4)Post Office ATMs will allow credit card cash withdrawals (at some branches there is a limit of \10,000 per transaction).
1)Most towns have large grocery stores of the chain variety including Apita, Nalx, Jusco, Tulip, etc. They carry everything, although you’re likely to get better quality at smaller family-run stores. Most supermarkets have discount days/times during the week, for example: half-price frozen foods day or double point day. They also have certain days of the week where they weed out older produce and meats – you can get real deals on foods that are perfectly good if not ‘perfect.’ Also, prepared foods (sashimi, sushi, deli foods) are heavily discounted at the end of every business day, so it’s a good time to do your shopping.
2)Bakeries are also a great place to grab breakfast, lunch or fresh breads. Some popular companies are German Bakery, Vie la France, etc. There are also many small family-owned bakeries. In Japanese bread is パン ‘pan’ and bakeries are パンヤ ‘panya.’ Be prepared for unusual fillings in your pan – tuna, mayo, curry and hash browns are popular bread fillings.
a)Sink drain cleaner/bleach tablets:
1Everything in this country mildews or rots in some form, and this includes your sink drain and the basket/gasket in it. There are powders that you pour down the sink and add water. They foam up and dissolve any of the gunk there. There are also tiny bleach tablets that you hang from the inner drain basket to prevent mildew build-up. If your drain area gets real stinky, these are the products for you.
b)Sink drain nets (nylon) and plastic drainer baskets:
1These help to keep organics out of your drain in the first place. Your drain area already has its own large plastic basket to filter large food particles, but most people buy a smaller one that sits inside it and is easier to take out and clean. You can find them at your regular home/grocery store. Use the little nylon nets to line the smaller basket.
a)Schools have a fresh lunch service that delivers food to your office. Usually there is a chart somewhere that you mark with an ‘O’ if you want food that day. It costs \300-500 per day. If you don’t want to spend that much consider packing your own bento with prepared foods you can get at your grocery store. Also, most schools allow ALTs to leave school during lunch, so if there’s a conbini or bakery near your workplace, you’ll be set for life.
a)Over-the-counter drugs here are pretty weak. All real drugs are prescribed by a doctor and often filled at their office. For basic med supplies and health foods head to Aoki or stores marked with ‘くすり’ (kusuri, medicine) or ‘ダラッグ’ (drug).
b)Japanese colds can be potent. Chesty cough and fever are the main symptoms, rather than the runny nose most of us are used to. Japanese over-the-counter cold medicine (カゼの薬, kaze no kusuri) will help to lessen the symptoms. Suntory CC Lemon drink, Lemon Water and/or the vitamin waters easily found in vending machines or in your local conbini are a good source of vitamin C. Warm green tea will help to soothe a sore throat. Lotion tissues are kind to the skin if you do come down with a runny nose.
c)If you use public transport, a face mask is a good idea. It lessens the risk of catching and/or spreading colds during winter, and if you suffer from hay fever, they can reduce the amount of pollen you’re breathing in when the sakura start to bloom. It’s polite to wear them at work as well if your have a very obvious cold. If you go to a doctor with a bad cold, you will often be required to wear one in the waiting room to prevent infecting others there.
a)GPs and family practitioners are not common in Japan; if you want to see a doctor, you will need to go to a hospital (byouin, 病院). There is usually at least one doctor in each hospital with a little English, particularly at the bigger hospitals, but don’t bank on it. If possible, ask your supervisor or a Japanese friend to come with you, or at the very least take a dictionary. Do not forget your pink National Health Insurance card! Just a note: hospitals in Japan have hours! That means they are 99% likely NOT to be open on the weekends or past 4pm. Also, different departments and specific doctors have different hours from the main hospital hours (or even days – some doctors only visit once or twice a week for a few hours total). Be careful you study the time charts carefully so you don’t make a lengthy trip to the doctor in vain.
b)Health care is incredibly thorough in Japan. Be prepared to spend a lot of time at the hospital though, appointments are not common practice so you can be waiting upwards of an hour before seeing a doctor, and they may ask you to come back for follow-up examinations. Waiting times for specialist treatment however is blessedly short, as most specialists work out of hospitals as well. Most of your health care costs (approximately 70%) are covered by National Health Insurance. If you have the option, I would recommend bypassing small local hospitals for the bigger general hospitals. Be aware, any course of treatment here usually includes being placed on an IV drip, no matter how minor the illness.
c)Although your JTEs might be a good source of information on smaller local doctors, go to your fellow ALTs for recommendations first. We’re more likely to know the English-speakers, as well as the doctors that are more ‘Western-style’ and comfortable to gaijin, then your teachers are. The Ishikawa Guide has a large section of ALT recommended doctors for reference.
d)Our Local Hospital: Public Central Hospital of Matto. (http://www.mattohp.jp/
) It’s on the right side of Route 8 as you head towards Komatsu, near City Hall and the Cultural Park. Fast service, friendly staff, and English friendly if not English proficient. Recommended. Warning: Not open on weekends!
Stuff to See - Just because you’re broke until the 21st doesn’t mean you can’t see a few nifty (and cheap) things! Get out and explore your city! Here are a few suggestions:
Kanazawa and immediate surrounds:
a.Kanazawa-jo – castle.
b.Oyama-jinja – stained glass shrine.
c.Uchinada Beach – beautiful waves! Take the Hokutetsu line from Kanazawa Eki.
d.Ninja-dera – military secrets and religion.
e.Kenrokuen – 3rd most beautiful garden in Japan. An easy walk from the Kohrinbo/Katamachi area.
f.Nagamachi Samurai District and Samurai House – Japan from the old days. Located behind 109 in Kanazawa.
g.Higashichaya – geisha and the most photographed street in Japan.
h.Omicho Market – great place for fresh food, still-flopping sushi, and people watching. There’s also an excellent international grocery store called ‘Diamond’s’ there. Near M’ZA department store, Kanazawa.
i.Tatemachi – shopping district, go there to watch teenagers in their natural habitat.
j.The Cottage: A tiny restaurant behind 109 run by our good friends Momo and Tony. Stop in for delicious curry, brick-oven pizza, or the daily special. Momo and Tony are great people to relieve home-sickness.
a.Wakamiya-jinza – shrine in the center of Matto. Beautiful temple buildings and weeping cherry trees. Right next to Wakamiya-koen (park).
b.Matto Furusato-kan – an impressive folk house-museum right outside of Matto-eki. Beautiful gardens and architecture make it a nice place to relax while waiting for a train.
c.Nakagawa Kazumasa Memorial Museum of Art – also right next to Matto-eki, this small museum is dedicated to this famous Western-style painter.
d.Matto Haiku Museum – directly in from of Matto-eki, this museum pays tribute to the famous haiku-writer Chiyojo who was born and bred in the area.
e.CCZ – our local beach! It’s a short taxi ride from Matto-eki (about \630-1000). This nice beach has restaurants, swimming beach, and sento for bathing after your salty swim.
f.Shirayamahime-jinja – the holiest shrine in Ishikawa. Perched in the foothills of Hakusan, this beautiful shrine is surrounded by rivers and trees of immense size. You can easily get there by Hokutetsu train line from Nonoiti-eki.
g.Sky Shishiku – recreational park on the top of a mountain. Access by cable-car from Tsurugi. Hang-gliding and picnic facilities available!
1)Matto Fire Festival – August 8, 9, 10. 3 days of fireworks, dancing, and burning giant bales of rice hay.
2)Hakusan Matsuri – July 19-20. Celebrating famous monks with a giant country party.
3)Nonoiti International Festival – September 9th. Celebrate your own and other countries’ cultures with all our Japanese friends.
4)Local shrine festivals – each and every shrine, no matter how tiny it is, has its own festival. These festivals will likely only be announced in the immediate are around the shrine, so it pays to go walk around your neighborhood in search of such in the summer!http://fpcj.jp/old/e/mass/presstour/pt_47.htmlhttp://wikitravel.org/en/Ishikawa
Government facilities and learning opportunities
Hakusan City Hall:
This is where you will go to register for your gaijin card. There are also a lot of cultural activities and outings sponsored by the City Hall. Check out their blog at http://www.10bin.com/
for event listings.
Hakusan City Hall, 1 Kuramitsu-2chome, Hakusan-shi, Ishikawa-ken 924-8688
Matto International Salon:
The major center for Japanese lessons and cultural activities for Hakusan. Run by a few extremely kind Japanese ladies, the Salom features a computer with internet (great to use until your own is hooked up), a coffee shop, a small collection of English books, local information in English and a place to meet up with local gaijin and Japanese who are interested in cultural exchange.
Matto International Salon
Homepage (Japanese): http://www.asagaotv.ne.jp/~misalon/
Homepage (English): http://www.asagaotv.ne.jp/~misalon/English.html
2/F Hakusan City Matto Bunka Kaikan, Hakusan International Salon
2 Furushiro-machi, Hakusan, Ishikawa 924-0872
Hours: Daily 9:00-18:00 (closed Mondays, end & beginning of year)
Travelling Locally: Trains, buses, and automobiles
金沢駅 – Kanazawa Station, Travel Hub
Kanazawa is a travel hub for Western Japan. From Kanazawa’s main station, 金沢駅 (Kanazawa-eki) you will be able to pick up JR West trains, small local Hokutetsu Rail trains, buses, and taxis that can take you anywhere in Japan.
1)JR West is a branch of the national Japan Railway Group – eight companies that took over the government owned transportation system back in the 80’s. The main JR line that runs through Kanazawa is called the ‘Hokuriku Main Line’. It runs north to the Noto Peninsula and south into the Kaga area.
2)Hokutetsu Railroad is a small private company that operates the bus system as well as two smaller train lines in Ishikawa. From KZ-eki you can get the Hokutetsu Asanogawa Line to Uchinada. (The Hokutestu Ishikawa line runs from Nomachi station out to Tsurugi).
3)Hokutetsu Bus has an office right outside of KZ-eki. Here you can buy/recharge ICa cards (bus fare debit cards), long distance bus tickets and other goodies. The east and west gates of KZ-eki house large bus platforms.
4)KZ-eki is also a great place to eat and shop – there are huge galleries full of omiyage (souvenir) stores, restaurants and conbinis.
How to use JR West trains:
1)When and Where? There will be two timetables posted at your local station. One will be northbound, and the other southbound. They will be labelled in English by their end stop (for example, ‘For Kanazawa/Toyama’ is north, ‘For Komatsu/Fukui’ is south). Times are listed in military format. Next to the time will be the end stop in kanji (they never translate these). If there is kanji written in red, do not get on!! These are limited express trains: they are very expensive and do not stop at local stations. The number to the right of the train destination is the platform number. Often larger stations will have electronic signboards that show the next three trains departing.