Saturday, November 13, 2010

My Latest Conquest!

When I first moved into my apartment, the most daunting task that laid before me came from unexpected places – my appliances.  I though you’d like to know that I am confident that I have now conquered each and every appliance.

The first day, my predecessor was around and showed me how to use everything.  The problem came after he left and I realized that I should have written down what he said! 

Here’s a photo of the stove.  Clearly the stove top isn’t an oven, but it does have a small inner compartment that I can use to grill things!  Pretty handy, but where do I bake things?

Welcome to a moven: microwave + oven = moven.  There are probably well over fifty different ways to set the moven depending on what you want to cook.  It kind of reminds me of Apple’s commercials in the states about how “there’s an app for that”:
            Want to bake cookies? There’s a button for that!
            Want to fry fish?  There’s a button for that!
            Want to warm sake? There’s a button for that!
            Want to 8 oz  of chicken at 200˚ C for 30 minutes? There are buttons for that!
            Have something that you just want heated to perfection? Just press the red button and the moven will stop when your food is ready!
Of course, you can’t do any of that unless you decipher the Japanese.  But after I had a Japanese-English teacher visit my house and decode the buttons for me (which I wrote down this time), I could push a button and leave my food .  The moven has sensors that asses the temperature and size of the food and cook it to perfection for you.  Plus it’s small, so for me it’s great because I don’t have to heat up a huge oven to bake a single serving of chicken and rice.  As you can tell, I’m quite fond of this idea.
The shower is a different story.  Turning on hot water for the shower is a multi-step process.  First, I turn on the gas (turn black dial).  Then, I push the right most dial down and turn it half way.  While holding the dial down I must turn the crank on the side of the heater a few times.  I continue to hold the dial down while I wait several seconds for the gas flow to continue.  Then I let the dial return to normal and I turn it the rest of the way.  Then I can push the lever down – holding it a few seconds while water starts to run – and can have a nice, normal and warm shower.

The washing machine was also a challenge at first.  It also seems to have a super-sensor mind.  I can press the power button and then the big red button and it will weigh and measure how much is in the machine and add just the right amount of water.  The only thing is that things tended to come out of it in one big, jumbled and tangled lump.  It probably isn’t a good idea to do that with my work clothes, so that was the next thing my Japanese-English teacher helped me decode!
The thing is, I’m not sure that he does the laundry ever because he didn’t know what most buttons did.  He could translate a few that I needed to know, but as for the rest he just shook his head and said he wasn’t sure if it translated.  Hm. Anyway, at least I can wash my clothes a bit more gently.

And one last thing – this is my heater. There is no central heating in my apartment even though Hokkaido has harsh winters that are a result of jet streams from Siberia passing through in the winter.  I have hear that this is a pretty hefty heater and can do the job, but I have some doubts…
Another interesting fact – this heater runs on kerosene! When I first heard that, I had a total flashback to the days when I read about Laura Ingalls Wilder and the wild frontier.  I didn’t realize kerosene was still in use in a developed country.  It’s not my preferred method of heating a home, but hopefully it gets the job done.


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