Kishagasa

| May 16, 2006

Kishagasa

Dear Alice, On a springtime visit to Japan, I saw something at Toshogu Shrine in Nikko that really got me wondering. There was a festival going on, and a handsome archer made his appearance on horseback. He was decked out in traditional archer clothing ...

Freewheeling across the Inland Sea

Apr 21, 2006

Freewheeling across the Inland Sea

“Getting there is half the fun.” With that maxim in mind, my family and I decided to forego all the usual means of transport for our first trip across the Seto Inland Sea to Shikoku last month. Instead of relying on plane, train, car ...

Sound trucks

| Apr 18, 2006

Sound trucks

Dear Alice, Once again, loudspeaker trucks marred what should have been a peaceful weekend at home. First it was a parade of vehicles blasting nationalist songs, then it was that pesky guy who circles round and round calling out for used appliances. Even the ...

White Day

| Mar 21, 2006

White Day

Dear Alice, Well, I made it through another Valentine’s Day and White Day in Japan without getting divorced. My Japanese husband very nearly committed suicide our first year together because I gave him a valentine card but no chocolate, which he saw as a ...

Suicide

| Jan 17, 2006

Suicide

Dear Alice: The day after Christmas I went with friends to the top of Jukkoku Pass in Shizuoka Prefecture, which offers fabulous views of Mount Fuji in one direction and the Izu Peninsula in the other. We decided to hike down rather than take ...

Baggy trousers

| Dec 20, 2005

Baggy trousers

Dear Alice, On a trip to Japan last year, I passed some time watching a building in Toyohashi [Aichi Prefecture] being remodeled. A couple of the workmen were wearing these really baggy trousers. So, what the heck is the deal with those? I assume ...

Gigantic spider

| Nov 15, 2005

Gigantic spider

Dear Alice: My husband and I were touring Tokyo on my first trip to Japan when we suddenly found ourselves under a gigantic spider sculpture in Roppongi Hills. I was bewildered! I love to read about exciting structures and the stories behind them. Please ...

Water pumps

| Oct 18, 2005

Water pumps

Dear Alice: I was startled the other day, while walking in Shinjuku, to see an old-fashioned water pump, the type with a handle pushed by hand. It was on the sidewalk along a major street, up against a guardrail and half hidden by a ...

Breathe deep, don't worry, it's only O2

| Sep 27, 2005

Breathe deep, don't worry, it's only O2

As soon as I accepted the assignment I realized I had a problem. My task was to test Tokyo’s latest fad, the oxygen capsule. The trouble is I’m claustrophobic. Elevators make me tense. When watching reruns of “Star Trek,” I have to avert my ...

| Sep 20, 2005

Maru boats

Dear Alice, This past weekend I was having a relaxing wander around Shimoda harbor, enjoying the boats and birds, when I wondered for the umpteenth time why the heck all Japanese boats seem to be called the something-or-other maru . And I remembered that ...