The Ikea haters

Unlike my book, which was translated by professionals, this blog was partly translated by an automated translation program. Therefore, the translation may not be perfect.

“Ikea furniture is not made for moving. It will break.” The Japanese gentleman from the moving company looked troubled. He spoke in Japanese to Google Translate, and then his phone spat out the translation in Dutch. Just before, he had asked if all my stuff was from Ikea, to which I cheerfully replied, “yes.” I love Ikea. The Japanese do not.

Even François, actually a Frenchman but so integrated after ten years in Japan that he can no longer live without his kotatsu (heated table) and his butt-washing toilet seat, shares this opinion. Nitori, that’s what you should buy. It’s Japanese. It’s better. Don’t think they sell artisan furniture with nail-free wood joints at Nitori or anything like that – they sell furniture similar to what you’d find at Target: MDF and particleboard furniture and more of that kind of misery. A sort of Ikea, but uglier. In my opinion, anyway.

No, the moving man was not a fan. I had hired his company to move my bed, and while we were at it, some more furniture. The desk was manageable, he said. But my bed, or rather the pull-out sofa bed in the office, was a problem. “I think it will be fine!”, I said. “What if we disassemble it?” He still believed that the thing would break or we wouldn’t be able to reassemble it, but this stubborn foreigner was not deterred. Ikea furniture not movable? Sir, do you know Marktplaats.nl? Hmm, probably not.

"But Toeps, why are you moving things around? Didn’t you just get that bed?"

Eh, yes. That’s right. I bought the bed two years ago at Ikea. For guests, and for me to chill out on in the office. Charlotte slept on it for a month, and when François stays over, we use it too. But now I have a room in François’ house, and I was missing a bed there. I could buy a new bed, but this sofa bed would be ideal.

Besides, I’m finding that ‘three houses’ is a bit too much. (Before my old classmate starts complaining again, I still only have one apartment, one office, and just one room at François’, which I now share with two cats and the accompanying litter box, scratching post, and other accessories.) Lately, I’ve been spending more and more time at François’, the house is becoming tidier, and as a result, I feel much better. But my rooms in Hachioji are becoming more chaotic, the household chores are always behind, and honestly: that bed in the office is actually a bit too big for the space.

So, we started thinking. I created a giant spreadsheet with all the scenarios and their financial, visa-related, and furniture-related consequences. We chose the most complicated plan because it would ultimately yield the best end situation: I would move some furniture to François’ now, then move my tatami mats from my tenth floor apartment to the office for a new relaxing or sleeping spot, and eventually, but not before November at the earliest when my visa is extended, register at his place, after which I could cancel the upstairs apartment. (François lives, although nearby, just over the border in another prefecture, and I don’t know how much administrative hassle it would cause if I suddenly have to apply for my extension somewhere else.) This seemed like a great situation to us: Cozy, but with enough breathing room when I need time for myself. And with the furniture I already had, moving in would be a piece of cake.

Moving business inflation

“Maybe you should just get a quote from a moving company,” François said. So I filled out an online form and almost immediately received an email: “Hello, can we come by to take a look?” The email exchange was in English, but when they called yesterday to confirm the appointment, everything was in Japanese. The guy himself only spoke Japanese too. My Japanese is pretty decent now – I understood most of what he said to Google Translate without needing to read the translation – but it’s always extra stressful.

“It will probably cost about 30,000 yen, 40,000 yen,” François had said. The quote ended up being 71,500 – the moving business is subject to inflation. (That, or I just want to take too much stuff, and well, it’s another prefecture…) Still only 422 euros, but more than I had expected.

I waved goodbye to the moving guy and took the train to François’. Everything felt wrong. Should I just buy a new bed…? But then I’ll have a surplus of furniture in November… Should I keep my office as it is…? It’s a nice, pleasant place as it is… (See also this office tour video I made with Olga.) Should I lay down the tatami mats at François’? And put futons on them so we can chill and host guests? I grabbed the tape measure and measured again. I thought they wouldn’t fit, but it turns out they just do.

“I prefer the bed,” said François. This man, who previously dismissed my Ikea Soderhamn suggestion for the living room in favor of an extendable Nitori piece, which I said in the store was the only not-totally-hideous sofa. This man prefers the Ikea bed over the tatami mats. It’s going to be my room, so I get to choose, but this consideration makes it extra difficult. If I do this… Then that… And then that… The furniture is dancing through my head like the dinner scene in Beauty and the Beast and I don’t know how to stop it. I want to lie down on the bed and mindlessly watch TV. But, well, that’s not possible here yet.