Yesterday we saw 4 more houses:
Uraga Houses: 2 houses close together, similar construction/layout, neither impressed us
Obaradai House: The nicest RV style home we've seen yet, very interesting internal layout, quite far from the nearest train station however. This is the first house we've seen after the Kubiri one that we kind of liked.
Nagasawa House: Serious character here, originally 2 homes joined together, so there are 2 kitchens and baths (very unusual), and nice traditional styling. Very good price. However, it's right next to the train tracks (you can practically spit on them) and the house is quite old. It came with lots of appliances and furniture though. Definitely went to the top of the list in competition with Kubiri, but there are enough issues that it hasn't won out completely.
After these appointments, we took the train from Shioiri Station (close to base) down to Kubiri and walked up to the house we are interested in, just to do it once. We had to buy "pasmo" cards from the train station electronic kiosks (English instructions are available). Unfortunately, because we don't have phone numbers yet we had to get "blank" cards which require a Y500 deposit, and Rowan's doesn't get the child discount. We'll get proper ones later. You load these cards up with yen and then you swipe them at the entrance and exit turnstiles as you go through them. This automatically deducts the correct amount from the card...couldn't be easier!
Had to ask around a bit to find the correct platform/train towards Keikyukurihama station (nearest to Kubiri) and then waited a couple of minutes for the next one to come. The trains are really nice, clean and spacious (and fast). A couple of stops later, one of the guys we talked to earlier told us to get off and change trains (not far, just the other side of the platform). This we did (thanks guy!) and a few stops later were at Keikyukurihama Station. The walk from there to the house was easy (maybe 10 minutes). By bike probably 5 or less.
Actually, speaking of bikes on trains...it is not done here. That is, to take a full size bike on the train. Weird to us, coming from Portland. Anyway, I am reassured to find out if the bike is collapsable and has a cover, it should be able to ride fine (check and check!). Otherwise, you have to park your bike at the train station which is about $100 a month!!!!
We took our time wandering back to the train station, looking around the neighborhood. The road outside the house is a bit busy, and parking would be tricky. But the house is set back quite a ways, so road noise wouldn't be an issue. However, we saw numerous school kids going home, walking in groups or alone, so safety is obviously not an issue. There's what looks like a second-hand appliance store nearby, a liquor store (with lots of sake!), and of course one of the ubiquitous 7-11 convenience stores. Normally this wouldn't sound like a good thing, but all of these are very nice establishments without the icky connotations they might have in the States. The convenience stores particularly are handy because you can pay virtually all your utilities there.
Where the area shines, however, is around the train station(s). There's a very nice outdoor mallish area with lots of little shops (fish, vegetable, meat, and sundries), a couple of larger mall type buildings, and tons of restaurants. There's a small "river" or canal that seems to extend up from the nearby bay. At the port, there is a ferry that goes across to the opposite side of the Tokyo Bay (to Chiba?). There are nearby beaches too. There are 2 train stations for the 2 main lines that run here: 1) JR is government run and goes up to Yokosuka and then west towards Zushi, 2) Keikyu is private and runs all the way up past Yokosuka to Tokyo and further. So all in all, the area is quite interesting while not feeling like a continuation of the metropolis.
We waited until 4:30pm (about the time when I would be coming home from work) and then road the train back to Yokosuka to see how crowded things looked. I have to say, not too bad...I think I can handle it. Feeling guilty about eating out yet again (had incredibly good Indian food for lunch), we went home and made spaghetti for the 2nd time this week (easy food!).
Today (Friday), I have some administrative stuff to do in the morning, then we have a couple more houses to look at in the afternoon. These will be more north, towards Yokohama/Tokyo, the first time we've travelled in that direction since coming down from the airport. We are interested to see how it feels. We've also decided to put the Kuribi house on 24 hour hold and see it again on Saturday to solidify how we feel (or otherwise). If we still have a good feeling about it and haven't found something else that blows our minds, then on Monday we'll put the paperwork in to make the offer.