My neighbour returns home at about nine in the morning most days. I hear the sharp metallic snap of his door unlocking, followed momentarily by the heavy clunk of the penitentiary pink door thudding closed and echoing through the utilitarian concrete stairwell.
On my days off I hear my neighbour laughing on what I assume is Skype. He has a happy slightly cynical booming laugh with a mocking edge to it. We have never met but our shoeboxes are very tightly stacked together. I know his laugh intimately.
I roll over, it is a weekday, I worked late last night, it's no where near time to get up.
Two hours later my alarm cheerily heralds the beginning of my day. The melody is irritatingly genki. I ignore it completely. It will play it's tinny little tune six times before it wears itself out. I will continue to ignore it for four of these times. On the fifth chime, my brain clicks into gear and I bolt out of bed, wash, dress and leave in the hurried space of 20 minutes.
I acquire breakfast somewhere along my hike to the train station, maybe hot corn soup in a can from the vending machine directly outside my apartment, a roll from one of the many bakeries, onigiri or an apple from one of the kombinis. I have maintained the very un-Japanese habit of eating and walking in public, chowing down as I continue to the station.
I jump on the subway and sit down, usually only for long enough to be a seat minder for some cute little oba-chan who has hobbled onto the train just as the doors close.