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new beginning. back...
I should have posted this a long time ago, but here we go.

Thanks to the support of a lot of very cool people, I have been able to defer my University for another year. I'll be spending the next 11 months in Tokyo again, learning Japanese.

In fact, I'm already back, since Friday. You might wonder why I left it so long to post. Just the same as my friends here are wondering why I lost touch over the past week or so.

Preparing to come back was something that caused a bit of anxiety. After having a few little health problems at the end of my last stay in Japan, I had to get my health cleared by doctors. I applied for a working holiday visa, which wasn't guaranteed to come through until I received it on Monday. Then it was a matter of booking the flights and accommodation as soon as possible. Luckily my school let me join in the semester which began two weeks ago.

So I arrived last Friday. Paying forward the help given to me by a guy called Patrick who I sat next to on the plane last time, I gave a guy called Matt some help getting from Narita airport to central Tokyo.

When I arrived at the apartment office I signed all the documents and asked them to wait while I went across the street to withdraw some extra money I needed to pay my first month's rent. That's when the machine told me I had an "Invalid Card", and to "contact [my] card vendor". So I went back to the office and they kindly let me make the long distance call to HSBC in the UK. Several hours, assurances, and calls later, my card would still not work.

Again, thanks to the nice people at Sakura House (I know what I've said in the past), once it got to 7.45pm they allowed me to pay half my rent and move into the apartment that night.

The next day I went to an HSBC branch near Tokyo station. My card would not even withdraw money from their machines. They put me on the phone to a special 24-hour emergency help line, who told me that my card had been blocked by the "Fraud Prevention Department", because of the sudden withdrawal attempt from Japan. Even though I had called them a week earlier and was assured at the time and also during my first bunch of calls from Japan that there was a marker on the card that would definitely allow me to use it here. She unblocked it straight away and it worked again.

I just consider myself lucky that Sakura House and Marion were both kind enough to help me out at the time when it looked like I just wouldn't be able to pay for my apartment. Thanks!

So, after a slightly tricky beginning, I'm now really enjoying being back in Japan. I've spent most of my time since getting the card working trying to catch up on the school work I've missed in the last two weeks. I had to turn down the opportunity of meeting Marion so I could finish going through all the new stuff, which sucked as I could have used a break from my apartment and it would have been nice to meet.

Actually I should get back to work, I still have a couple of hours' left I think. I'll put up some photos of my apartment in a little while.

To anyone who found out from this post that I'm back in Japan...sorry I couldn't contact you personally and I wish we could have met up beforehand.

As always, if you e-mail my phone I'll get it straight away, wherever I am: johnm[at]softbank.ne.jp

I now have a working webcam so you can add me on my gmail address if you want to talk ^_^

PS: From now on I'm aiming for at least 5 posts a week on this blog. People may get sick of reading but I'm also doing this for my own sake so I can remember my time here. cya!

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Hi. Good to see the blogs again. Keep it up. Dad
by pete (Peter Mapley)