I have one word to express my craft supply shopping experience: BUTTONS!
Anyway, I carted my purchases home and set about starting on my first project. Little did I realize I would shortly run into another cultural difference. Apparently, perhaps to save space, Japanese patterns do not include a seam allowance. Instead, they draw little pictures to show you how much of an allowance to add yourself. This is no doubt meant for people who are much more skilled at this than I. Namely, people who own a compass. Nevertheless! I struggled through with a ruler (unfortunately, not metric, but it was the only one in the apartment) and a pencil. It took me all the rest of the afternoon (except for a break to watch FMA), but I finally have all the pieces cut out.
My sewing machine, by the way, is the first one I have ever seen without a foot pedal. I guess it would be hard to use a foot pedal in a tatami room, since you're always sitting on the floor. What it does have is a speed adjustment lever and a start/stop button. It'll probably take a bit of getting used to, but other than that it's pretty snazzy. I managed to spin a bobbin of thread and get the thread through the needle, so I'll soon be ready to start.