Monday, June 27, 2011

Strangers

On my way home from work on Friday, I was waiting on my bike to cross the street, and a truck went by in the direction I had come from. It was pretty quick, but the driver honked his horn and said, "Hi," and I could only see for a split second that it was some black guy possibly in his 40s or 50s that I didn't know.

Confused, I ignored it and kept riding home, wondering if this guy was going to do what I thought he would. And I was right. About 3 minutes later, I'm riding up the hill, and from the corner of my eye I see this truck driving in the same direction, and he pulls over on the other side of the street to wait for me coming up the hill. As I pass him, he says, "Hi, excuse me," I turned my head in his direction and freaked, and decided to keep pedaling. He yells louder, "Excuse me!" but I ignored him.

A small part of me felt a bit rude, because he may have had an honest and legitimate question about directions or something. But I highly doubted that. If this guy needed directions, he would've slowed down the first time instead of honking and saying hello as he whizzed by me. From my experience though, I had a feeling that this guy probably wanted to ask me some personal questions, eventually leading to a "I think you're pretty, can we be friends?" type of thing. It's happened so many times, both in Japan and the US, and I absolutely hate it.

Besides, if he was some gaijin in Japan honestly looking to talk to other foreigners in the area, he probably shouldn't be trying to talk to a girl half his age on a bicycle during a hot summer afternoon. Who in the world wants to stop and talk to a stranger at a time like that?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Apple iPod Repair Outside of Your Home Country

Just a few minutes ago I just sent my beloved iPod Touch off to [hopefully] be repaired by Apple. Just a mere day before its warranty was set to expire, I had discovered that my 1-year old iPod had a grey line of dead pixels on the screen:



The line shown in the picture is actually what it had grown to over a day and a half; it started out short and in the center and eventually grew longer towards the left side of the screen. I felt really lucky that this happened JUST before my warranty expired, but still somewhat upset that this kind of defect would happen after only a year. I had a bad experience with my old MacBook that I got in 2008, in which the screen failed after about a year and a half, just a few months out of warranty. Hopefully the same won't happen to my MacBook Pro, which is just outside of warranty (I contacted Apple about this because, unlike with my iPod Touch, I NEVER received an e-mail reminder that my warranty was about to expire, and I got them at the same time).

So after purchasing the AppleCare Protection plan for my iPod, I contacted Apple to set up a repair. I bought the iPod in the United States, but of course now I live in Japan. So what do you do when you don't live in the country from which an Apple product is purchased?

Here are two choices: You can go to the nearest Apple store (the nearest one for me is 1 1/2 hours away in Osaka and I'm not waiting until the weekend to go) or you can set up a repair online. For the latter, just follow these steps:

1. Go to Apple's Service and Repair page. Enter in your product's Serial # (this page will help you if you don't know how to find it) and then select the country in which you are currently living, and then click Continue.

2. Your product and Serial # will be displayed on the next page.
Under it is a link that says "See your service and support coverage." This is where you can check your product's warranty status.

3. Next to the heading that says "Repairs and Service Coverage: [your product's status here]," there is a button that says "Set Up a Repair." If your product is under warranty, or if it is out of warranty and you don't care about any charges that will be incurred, then go ahead and click that button.

You should be able to follow along Apple's step-by-step process. The country you select at the beginning is important because it will be listed on the page where you enter your address. Also, the services available may vary depending on where you live. For example, when I chose "United States," I expected to receive an empty box in which I would pack my iPod to be sent. But when I went back and chose "Japan" as my country, Apple's website informed me that an actual person from a courier service will come to pick up my product, and that I can schedule the date and time period that I would like them to come. So I chose the next day between 6:00 and 9:00 in the evening.

After submitting my Repair request, my confirmation e-mail was written in Japanese, but when I clicked the link to my iPod's Repair status, the page was displayed in English. So if your confirmation e-mail comes up in another language and you're not sure of what it says, don't worry about it.

So for the next few days/weeks, I will be without my baby :( I plan on buying a new one with a camera within the next few months, but I still want my current iPod to be in good condition and under warranty in case I pass it on to someone else. I wonder if they'd mind that the back is engraved with "Proverbs 3:5-6" on it...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Forgetting Your Alien Registration Card ("Gaijin Card")

This past weekend I went to Hiroshima to enjoy a Saturday night girugamesh concert. I really love the band; I'd have to say that they're up on the same level as L'Arc~en~Ciel as far as my favorite bands go. Even though the band was performing in the much-closer city of Osaka on Wednesday night, I decided to go for Hiroshima instead because it was on a Saturday, and I'd rather not try to rush right after work and commute 1 1/2 hours to Osaka on a school night.

So I got my stuff packed for the weekend and headed out on Saturday morning. It wasn't until after the hour-long ride to Shin-Kobe station, and then the 80 minute ride on the Shinkansen to Hiroshima, and then getting to the front desk of the hostel where I'd be staying...

...that I realized I had left my Alien Registration Card at home. -_-;

In most cases while in a foreign country, of course your passport is one of the most important things to carry with you. Of course, once you actually move to that country and receive an alien registration card (外国人登録証明書, gaikokujin touroku shoumeisho), you don't need to carry your passport with you on a regular basis. During my winter trip to Tokyo, I carried both since I was staying away from home for over a week.

But this would be just a weekend; I'd leave Saturday morning, stay one night, and come back Sunday evening. So I decided not to take my passport.

However, I had forgotten that, a few days before, I had taken my "gaijin card" out of my wallet to scan a copy of it for unrelated reasons. After I was done, I had completely forgotten to take it out of the scanner and put it back in my wallet.

Fortunately, the receptionist had no problem with me not having my card, and just asked if I had any other picture ID. I still had my Maryland state ID, so I just showed her that and she said OK. Whew!

After I got up to my room, I started getting ready for the concert at Namiki Junction. After looking at my ticket, I noticed at the bottom that it said I had to pay an additional 500 yen for a drink ticket when entering. Immediately I started feeling concerned about whether I'd be carded when going into the live house. I started thinking up possible explanations and was prepared to plead for them to let me in, showing them that I was of age AND that I wasn't here in Japan illegally--I had my Japanese health insurance card with my birthday but no picture; my state ID; and the envelope that contained my ticket with my current address on it.

I was a bit relieved after going to Namiki Junction's website and reading the venue policies. For late night lives, ID is required. But for the girugamesh concert starting at 6:00pm, the only note written was that children 6 and under weren't allowed. Obviously I'm of age so they wouldn't need ID for that.

Long story short, I got into the venue and enjoyed the concert with no problems whatsoever. But there were some things during the weekened that I passed on doing just in case I needed to have my gaijin card for it.

So the moral of the story is: Never leave home without your gaijin card. I know some people out there say, "Meh, I never carry it and I've never gotten into trouble," but I wouldn't advise that you try it. I've been carded randomly before, and besides, you'll still need it if you plan on doing other things like checking into other hotels/hostels, going to a host club, going to a nightclub, or--if you look really young for your age--being in a game center after certain hours. That last one has happened to me before, mainly because the friend I was with looks like she could be in middle school when she's actually turning 24 this year.

So yeah...that card is important.