引っ越し hikkoshi—moving house

We finished packing our possessions into boxes last night, and this morning the removal company came to pick them up and take them to Ireland.

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Note that the removal company worker is working in his socks inside the house. Even while carrying heavy boxes out of the house, he has to put on his shoes every time he goes out and take them off again every time he comes in.

The boxes will travel by ship, a journey that will take 5 to 7 weeks. They will arrive at Dublin port and then we will have to make our own arrangements to bring them to our new home (wherever that may be!)

Packing was complicated by the fact that we had to decide what could go in the boxes (i.e. that we would not need immediately on arrival in Ireland) and what we would need to bring home with us in our suitcases.

There were also some hard decisions to be made – we had a price for 15 boxes and a (much higher) price for 20 boxes. In order to stay within the 15 box limit, some things would have to be left behind.

Snoopy made the cut.

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In the process of packing, the house was pretty chaotic. Closets and drawers were emptied out, and the washitsu was full of partly-filled boxes and packaging materials. The contents of boxes were repeatedly adjusted to try to make most efficient use of the space and find ways to fit in some small items. While we had no official weight limit, we unofficially tried not to exceed 30 kg per box. Meanwhile the contents of each box had to be carefully recorded.

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As a further complication, I was carrying an injury (following a single-vehicle bicycle accident a week ago) and for 2 crucial days over the weekend I was unable to lift or carry anything. But I recovered sufficiently to finish the packing yesterday night.

As well as the boxes, we shipped our sofa. This created an interesting problem – the sofa would not fit down our stairs, which are narrow and steep. I suggested that we use rope to lower it to the ground from the balcony.

The moving company agreed to this plan and after careful preparation (we had no actual rope, only a ball of nylon twine from the 100 yen shop) the sofa appeared over the edge of the balcony.

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Down she comes.

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Safely landed.

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Eventually everything was in the van and ready to begin its long journey to Dublin.

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This week’s preparations have been another reminder of just how much a cash society Japan is. In Ireland, if a service costs €2000, you normally pay by credit card, and it would be unusual (or maybe even impossible) to pay in cash. In Japan, however, you normally go to the bank (or the convenience store ATM), withdraw 250,000 yen in cash and hand it to the service provider on the day.

Separately, our car was also collected and began its journey to Ireland this morning. In preparation for export, it has to be deregistered in Japan, so we had to remove its number plates and send them off to the city office by registered mail. The person who came to collect the car installed temporary plates, with a red outline. The temporary plates are from Nara.

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The car being driven away, at the start of its journey to the other side of the world.

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Incidentally, there is a rule that the car has to be completely empty when it is shipped. Only the spare tyre and the original tools may be carried. A pity, because otherwise we would have been able to make use of the space in the car to send some possessions.

So now, we have no sofa and no car. But life goes on, and this will still be our home for another few days. Over the next few days, the remaining items – washing machine, kitchen table and chairs, and so on, will be progressively moved out, until by the time we leave the house, it will be as completely empty as the day we arrived.

A note on the word of the day

引っ越し hikkoshi—to move house is written with two kanji characters. The first 引 means to pull (on doors you see 引く hiku—pull written on one side and 押す osu—push on the other) and the second 越 means to cross over.

When you type the word on the computer, the Windows IME offers three options: 引っ越し 引越し and simply 引越. When this happens, I find myself somewhat at a loss. Which should I choose? All three are acceptable ways of writing the word, but which would be considered most “normal”; which (if any) a little odd or mannered or archaic?  Another example is 祭り matsuri meaning festival; should I write it as 祭り or just 祭? Does it matter?

In these situations, knowing no better, I tend to go for the first suggested option.

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7 thoughts on “引っ越し hikkoshi—moving house

  1. For such a high-tech country, I found that Japan was surprisingly cash-oriented! Though I never imagined that such high amounts of money (I’m not reading that wrong, right? 250,000 yen?) would still be paid in cash.

    1. Yes, we had to go to the konbini ATM to get 230,000 yen in cash to give to the shipping agent this morning. I think part of the reason cash is so prevalent is that crime is so rare. People think nothing of walking around with the equivalent of hundreds or thousands of dollars in cash.

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