I don't know what to call it, so I call it a box. Some Japanese residences have them. At various times throughout the day they make some noise, usually announcements about events in town. I'd heard about them from other JETs who had them in their apartments, and offered words of sympathy to the stricken.
My heart sank when my supervisor informed me last week that I, too, would soon be subjected to this monstrosity: the towns are merging and every home must have one. I groaned audibly. "Nihongo, Nihongo, Nihongo," I said, mimicking the announcer's voice. "Wakarimasen (I don't understand). Can it be turned off?" No, but I could choose where it would be placed. In the apartment entrance, I said, far from my bedroom. She went off to find some more information, and returned with the news that, in fact, I would not be able to choose its location, as all the boxes would be installed in the same place in each apartment, but there would be an Off switch. "Ah, good," I sighed in relief.
She told me the installation would take place on Saturday, when I planned to be in Aichi. But when I returned, everything in my apartment was exactly the way I'd left it (for better or for worse). Ah! No box!
Until 6:30 this morning, when I heard an ominously familiar tune.
"Ichi! Ni! San! Shi! Go! Roku! Shichi! Hachi!"
Dear God let that be the neighbors' radio on way too loud.
But the chirpy piano continued to sound as though it were coming from the dining room. "Ichi! Ni! San! Shi! Go! Roku! Shichi! Hachi!"
That stupid warm-up exercize music. I caught it on TV one morning at Tokyo orientation, and you can see each stretch, but on the radio it's just some guy counting to eight over and over in time to the music, periodically calling out instructions that I don't understand. During the summer they broadcasted it from a speaker in a lot near my apartment, and some of the neighborhood kids would run to the lot and do the stretches.
But I am not seven, and this is not summer vacation, so being awakened by a perky radio broadcast at the crack of dawn, let alone one I can't understand, makes me really grumpy; the thought of being subjected to this for the rest of the time I'm in Japan frosts me.
Edit April 7: Duh, I forgot the punchline. I cannot turn the box off after all. Wednesday morning I stumbled out to the dining room and had a look at it. It has a volume control, but that was already set to its lowest level when it woke me.
However, further examination has revealed a pair of wires attached by philips head screws. Perhaps it can be dismantled for the time being and repaired before I move out.