The agent that picked us up was an American, former Marine, married to Japanese woman and has lived here nearly twenty years. He said he originally cringed when Tim told him over the phone that we were looking in the north, because there isn't much up here. He said something about the Marines pulling out and moving to Guam in the next few years - we hadn't heard anything about that. Anyway, all he could find up here in our price range were two apartments. I got the feeling like there may have been more, but he wasn't going to waste his time, or ours, showing us junk. So two apartments. The first one was on the third floor with no elevator. These are all concrete buildings with bars on the windows for safety in typhoons. This apartment had high ceilings, that arched inward, I couldn't see the roof from the parking lot, but I imagine it was a dome on top. White plaster walls with dark wood trims, hard wood floors throughout, shutter style doors on all the rooms. There were three or four regular bedrooms in addition to a beautiful large tatami room with 5 sliding pocket shoji, traditional style with the closet for futons, and storage for whatever else under a bench, and the sacred nook area, I forget the name for it. There was roof access by ladder, not my thing, you won't find me up there. And a loft accessible by stairway, Tim went up. He said it is not full ceiling height, so not very usable, maybe for storage. Built-in cabinets in every room, including a genkan, shoe cupboard in the entrance. High ceilings in the master as well as the walk-in closet, and an extra exit staircase for safety (spiral, all the way down the ground level). The kitchen appeared to have all new appliances, including a counter top convection oven. It was also very close to the base where we are staying, and maybe one or two blocks off of a main road with shops and markets. The downside is there is NO elevator and no yard for Nigel, I actually didn't see ANY grass in sight even for his 'business' trips. It had the charm and traditional Japanese feel that we were looking for, though. Both accept pets for a fee/deposit.
The second place was really not unlike a small American ranch, but it was a fourth floor apartment. Three bedrooms, two baths, hardwood floors, only two years old. The bonus to this one was the balcony, maybe thirty feet long and 8-10 feet deep, with a view of a green valley and village, plus Pacific beyond that (distant, but sweeping, view). Location was bit farther south than we wanted, too.
Tim's bored and pacing. Hes going to meet another agent, without us this time, sounds like not too many people can fit five people plus themselves in their cars. He'll meet her at the base gate and they'll go see some places without us and take pictures (because, once again, I didn't - it makes me uncomfortable and draws too much attention). Then we'll go to dinner together. Tim picked a tepanyaki place, I think someone recommended it to him Friday. Check back later, okay?