Jizo

| Aug 18, 2005

Jizo

Dear Alice, Being an academic, I get to meet people researching all sorts of interesting topics, often completely unrelated to my own field. For example, I recently met a fellow Swede who is studying the practice of creating temporary memorials at the site of ...

Yutai-ken

| Jul 21, 2005

Yutai-ken

Dear Alice, I was at one of those “family” restaurants the other day, waiting to pay for my pancakes, when the woman in front of me used some kind of certificate to settle her check. When she left, I asked the cashier if that ...

Owaraji

| Jun 16, 2005

Owaraji

Dear Alice, Last month, I was one of the two million spectators in Asakusa for the Sanja Matsuri. It was thrilling to see the festival up close, but the crowd was so thick that sometimes I couldn’t move. At one point I found myself ...

PET bottles

| May 19, 2005

PET bottles

Dear Alice, I saw an odd thing in Osaka on a recent visit: a tiny plot of grass surrounded by PET bottles filled with water. What the heck is that all about? Diane O., Redmond, Wash., USA Dear Alice, I have seen plastic bottles ...

A pack of dog statues

| Apr 21, 2005

A pack of dog statues

Dear Alice, Please do me a personal favor and go to Tokyo Tower and find out the story behind that pack of dog statues at the entrance. I know what you’re thinking: “A pack of dog statues? She must mean a statue of a ...

Tails of alley cats

| Mar 17, 2005

Tails of alley cats

Dear Alice, I’m crazy about cats but my landlady won’t allow pets. I’ve tried to make nice with the neighborhood nora-neko (alley cats) but, to be honest, their stumpy twisted tails gross me out. What the heck is that, anyway? Some kind of infection? ...

Brr -- diving in Atami in winter

Feb 11, 2005

Brr -- diving in Atami in winter

As any scuba diver knows, when the diving itch hits, you just gotta scratch. But what if the itch strikes in midwinter when you have neither the time nor funds to fly to a tropical resort? Not to worry. Not only is it possible ...

| Jan 21, 2005

Sugidama

Dear Alice, I recently noticed a large ball hanging from the eaves outside my favorite sake shop. It seems to be made of carefully clipped evergreen branches. I quizzed the shop owner about it, but we didn’t understand each other. I asked a Japanese ...

| Dec 16, 2004

Reflections on rich learnings we all shared

When I began writing this column, I thought it would be a one-year gig. My editors thought so too. But things went well, and for nearly four years now I’ve reported in this space about my children’s experiences in Japanese school. I’ve penned more ...