Chapter 33: Tokyo Drift III
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Ameko had proven herself to be a very competent tour guide. This was especially true after eating Zhang Heng’s taiyaki, turning her even more zealous. She showed Zhang Heng around before reluctantly sending him back to school around nine at night. Then, she took the tram back to her apartment.
Because land was so expensive in Tokyo, only a few universities had dormitories. Owing to that, most students had to rent rooms outside of campus like Ameko. Although her home was within the city, she chose to rent an apartment unit with other university students because it was nearer to campus.
However, the school treated exchange students pretty well. They had an international house, which provided accommodation for students from abroad. What more, they were all single rooms.
Zhang Heng found his room number on his phone and unlocked the door with the key he was carrying in one of his pockets.
The room was mediocre in size, only about 15 square meters. It was, however, furnished with a bed, wardrobe, study table, air conditioner, and even a full-sized bathroom.
Zhang Heng took a quick shower before finding some clean clothes in the closet to change into. There was a half packet of biscuits on the table, a bank card, a notebook, and a bunch of photocopied papers. It all made him look like a real exchange student who had just moved in that day.
He picked up the notebook and found a list of his expenditures. The handwriting was a one to one copy of his. On the second page, a timetable with only one subject was scribbled down, which was Japanese.
Under normal circumstances, universities would never arrange pure lingual classes for exchange students.
Generally, when enrolling exchange students, the university would specify Japanese as a requirement the students must meet. Of course, some did not, but only because most majors were taught English.
That must have been the hidden benefit that this game version gave its players, a sort of tutorial for those who spoke nor read Japanese.
But it was not possible to fluently learn a language in 60 days. For the time being, he would still have to rely on Ameko, the trusty human translating machine, to communicate with others.
He was musing on that thought when he received a text message from her.
Zhang-san. I’ve reached home safely. Damn it! Momo1 went to drink from the toilet again while I was out. She left pawprints everywhere!
Ameko had told Zhang Heng about Momo, a Japanese paddy cat she adopted, to which, Zhang Heng replied: Cook it in a stew.
Ameko sent him a shocked face!
Zhang Heng typed back: I’m just joking! Oh, by the way, Ameka, do you know where the nearest ATM to school is?
He flipped to the third page in his notebook. There was a list of things to do—one of which was signing up for a bank card. The fee for the months to come would be deducted from the card.
Of course. I’ll bring you there tomorrow. If there’s anything else that you don’t know, you can always ask me! I’m very familiar with the area!
Ameko was still as earnest as the first time they met.
Thank you for letting me trouble you.
Zhang Heng bid the girl good night. He then went online to look up some information. Soon after, he flipped the lights off and climbed into bed. And that was how he spent his first night in a foreign country.
The night passed without incident.
The very next morning, Zhang Heng attended the language class. At an entry-level, the learning was relatively simple—to master the goujon* or fifty-sounds chart, which mainly tests the student’s memory. Then, in the afternoon, he and Ameko proceeded to apply for a bank card. The process would take about a week.
Once they stepped out of the bank, Zhang Heng asked his companion, “If I want to find work, is there a place you would recommend?”
The 30,000 yen he had was far from enough. The two-month estimate he made previously was simply too optimistic. Rental for the room alone was already 20,000 yen! Luckily, the first month’s rent had already been paid for. Realizing that he was going to spend another 14 months or so here, Zhang Heng decided that he had to find a way to earn some money.
He did not know how the other players were going to resolve this financial problem. They would probably opt for some high-risk solutions, but Zhang Heng preferred to opt for working. While the money may not come as quickly, it would allow him to familiarize and affiliate himself with this city.
“Hmm, most people work in restaurants, supermarkets or convenience stores, but being able to speak Japanese is a requirement.” Ameko paused for a moment to think. “Or do you have any skills?”
“Skills?” Zhang Heng cocked his brow. “Does archery and playing the piano count?”
“Ah? Archery and piano! That’s incredible! If that’s the case, you can work at the kyudo practice hall or western restaurants. Mm, but Japanese archery (kyūdō) is slightly different from western archery, emphasizing on the cultivation of the spirit and the mind. Also, there’s no way you could avoid talking to people in the practice hall. It looks like your best option is to play at a western restaurant.” Ameko carefully broke down the pros and cons of each option for Zhang Heng.
This girl was through-and-through an executive—she immediately dragged Zhang Heng to an Italian restaurant to apply for a job. Unfortunately, they already had a pianist. Next, the pair tried the Spanish and French restaurants next door. Eventually, a western restaurant owned by a local Tokyolite was willing to give Zhang Heng a chance after hearing him play. Even so, the owner was still bothered by the fact that Zhang Heng did not know how to speak Japanese.
Ameko pointed at the job advertisement outside the shop and said, “You’re still short on servers, right? I used to work in Roast Beef Ohno. How about this—I’ll work here too! If there are any language problems, I can help him translate.”
“Then we don’t have a problem anymore!” The restaurateur nodded. “We pay 1,200 yen an hour, three days a week, 4—5 hours a day. There will be day and night shifts. You can choose to come on the days you don’t have classes. I will try to put you two in the same shift.”
“Thank you for your trouble!” Ameko bowed.
Only when they stepped out of the door did Zhang Heng find out what the two had been talking about. When Ameko sensed a protest on the way, she quickly explained, “The trip yesterday night was really fun! Everyone is normally so busy with their own lives that very few people would be willing to listen to what other people’s opinions! Zhang-san… is a very gentle person. Also, it’s not all because of you. I just quit my last job and have been looking for one. The environment and pay here are pretty good as well! Also, isn’t it much safer with you around?” Ameko flashed her snaggleteeth.
Could this be the perks of a good first impression? Zhang Heng said nothing. When he saw that it was already evening, he treated Ameko to dinner at a restaurant nearby.
The two were chatting about school when a spray-painted Subaru BRZ and a green Volkswagen Golf R pulled up in front of the shop. Young boys and girls with colorful hair stepped out of the cars. One of them, a guy with a bandanna, shouted at the owner to bring beers the minute he stepped in.
From the looks of most of them, it was apparent they had a round of drinks before this. They were already somewhat drunk.
Ameko whispered, “Don’t keep staring at them! That guy is a recent bosozoku1. Quite a few of them are from our school. They hang out with good-for-nothing worthless punks all day long! They do nothing good from morning to night.”