When I returned from my Christmas trip on December 28th, I came home to an empty house with the doors wide open. While petty theft and burglary are not a huge issue in Japan, and the house is on a spot that is unreachable by car and hardly has anyone but neighbours passing by, I still think it’s not a good idea to have everything invitingly open like that.

constructionWell, my landlady was upstairs telling me the news: In the morning, something in the gas geyser supplying the showers with hot water broke, there was a gas leak and even smoke in the house. It took more than an hour until somebody from the gas company arrived to turn off the gas and to find out what’s wrong – an hour of waiting outside in the cold for everybody, just to be on the safe side and as far away as possible from the gas leak, you never know.

The person who came already determined what replacement part would be needed to fix the problem, but of course, he didn’t have it with him on a Sunday morning. So the landlady tried to plead to fix this as quickly as possible. Even our neighbour got involved and tried to pull the foreigner card: “Look, those are all gaijin, you cannot let them go without hot showers for so long, that’s not possible, I mean, you don’t want to give them the impression of Japan as a backward country…” and some such. It didn’t help though, and the plan was for somebody to come by on Monday morning (December 29th) to fix the problem.

Of course, the person who came by on Monday morning did not get the memo and did not bring the necessary replacement part. Furthermore, it seemed not to have been available for purchase anywhere in Kyoto, despite the frantic phone calls of our landlady. After all, it was the New Year’s week, where many factories are closed, lots of people are on vacation, and Japan as a whole is on standby and runs on emergency procedures. And now that the gas was shut off, the emergency was dealt with, and a number of slightly smelly foreigners were nobody’s problem, really.

It didn’t help that New Year’s was on a Thursday, and there was yet another weekend during which nobody would do anything. Even the sento around the corner had special opening hours when it was not closed outright, and of course I managed to stand before closed doors one night when I desperately wanted a shower. (No, I don’t take cold showers. End of discussion.) At least we still had gas available in the kitchen, so we could wash our hair in the kitchen sink – not overly nice, but doable.

Finally, yesterday morning, on January 6th, I got an email from our landlady informing me that the replacement part had arrived and that some time during the day the repair would be done. It took about two hours in the afternoon to get our gas geyser repaired. We now have a new control unit that talks back to you when you turn on the hot water. And I can attest – after being the first one to literally test the waters, that after 10 days of waiting everything works fine and is back to normal.

For now. Let’s hope that whatever it is that breaks next, it has the decency to do so on a Monday morning, 9 am with no holidays in sight…