Friday, March 25, 2016

Notebook Discovery: Tokyo city personal guide book

One of the joys of being a notebook user is rediscovering a notebook you thought was lost or had completely forgotten about. As a male, it may be the closest I ever come to knowing what the joy of giving birth is like: looking down and discovering a fully formed entity, the annoyances and pain of its months-long creation forgotten in the joy of its beholding. In the days of smartphones, I’m sure this “found notebook” feeling is increasingly rare, which explains why my recent discovery was greeted with little more than a “huh.” And no one wanted to see what was inside the notebook. 

Thank God for this blog!

In 1998-2000 I lived in Japan.  I didn’t speak a word of Japanese, so I carried three books at all times:

  • A Japanese to English dictionary
  • An English to Japanese dictionary
  • A small notebook for important items
All of these have been replaced by smartphones.

Somehow, in my move back to the US, this notebook got lost in the flotsam of stuff that accompanied me through five more moves until fifteen years later when I uncovered it in a neglected box. Wasuremono in Japanese.

For a cheap notebook, the binding has held up really well.
It’s a small APICA notebook, approximately 2.75” x 4” inches, just perfect for keeping in the front pocket of my messenger bag. By the back cover, it looks like I paid 60 yen for it, about 50 cents at the time.  I’m sure I must have bought it in a multipack at the ¥100 yen store at the train station.  

I can see now, it was my practical life line for gaijin survival in Japan. The inside front cover contains all the emergency information I might need and necessary phrases a non-native should know:

Pager numbers!
Lessons learned the hard way at the Kikuna Post Office and local stores/yasai-ya where no one spoke English:

Being able to ask the question doesn't mean you will understand the answer.

Also, it seems the urban Japanese can live with a minimum of street signs or numbered addresses. So finding anything again can be a hassle, better to write it down right away (such as awesome sushi place, lol). Or if you were lucky enough to find someone who could speak some English at the Apple Mac repair place better write down their names too (Hamada-san):



Directions were oriented around it’s location from the nearest subway exit with questionable directions:

When billboards stop at underpass, cross the street?
But I have to say that Japan has great stores for used camera equipment, the condition of the equipment is superb.

Lastly, the back of the book contains the most important information: a shopping guide to the types and bottle label from the best sake in Japan:

Nothing better than ice-cold high quality sake.


Thanks for indulging my ruminations. In my zeal to record and document my days, I probably spend too little time enjoying the journals of my past, which is where the real value in the notebooks lie.