| Jan 21, 2012

Hold the plastic grass — I want the real stuff

Holding the kama (scythe) at the hilt, I tore into the grass. This is the way we cut grass on the island. Not many people actually have grass, and I cherish my small 2 sq. meter patch. My neighbor Kazu-chan, who was watching me ...

| Jan 14, 2012

Reflections on being an expat

The hairstylist exclaims, “Wow, you live in Japa’an!” — pronouncing the word as if it was a diphthong. I am home for a friend’s wedding, and getting my hair cut. “How exciting!” the hairstylist says, which really means she thinks I must be a ...

Confessions of a beer lover on the New Year

| Jan 7, 2012

Confessions of a beer lover on the New Year

So, how’s your New Year’s resolution coming along? “The what?” you say? Given up already, have you? Well, I haven’t given up mine. And so enthusiastic am I that I’ve already completed three weeks of my resolution even though we’re only one week into ...

| Dec 24, 2011

Politeness beyond words

We all know the Japanese are “very polite.” But being polite goes beyond just saying excuse me or thank you or holding the door open for someone. Let’s start with the word “teinei,” or “polite,” in Japanese. Teinei goes beyond the English word “polite” ...

| Dec 17, 2011

Herbivorous men, where's the beef?

My single Japanese girlfriends complain that there are no interesting guys out there. Could they be right? It seems that these days the average Japanese guy is, well, you know, kinda boring. Kinda quiet. Nothing wrong with being quiet of course, especially if you ...

| Dec 10, 2011

How does 'Come all ye Bodhisattvas' grab you?

Many people know that most Japanese believe in Shinto and Buddhism. Fewer are aware that many also participate in “commercialized Christianity” in order to take advantage of those fun Christian holidays. Christianity, with its sparkly celebrations including over-glitzed trees (Christmas), anthropomorphized rabbits (Easter) and ...

| Dec 3, 2011

Sorry, please excuse me, thank you

“I hear the Japanese are very polite. Is it true?” I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me this, especially on trips home to the United States. Many Americans imagine a country full of people saying, “Excuse me,” “Thank you” and ...

| Nov 26, 2011

Keeping abreast of the bra trends in Japan

Oh fun, time for an annual breast examination. Not that there is any pain involved with the examination. It’s finding time to go to the hospital that’s tough. The problem is that the breasts are attached to the body, which means the whole body ...

| Nov 19, 2011

When are we going to eat udon?

“When are we going to eat udon?” asks our neighbor Rikimatsu-san. “Well, maybe in the spring,” says my husband. That was two years ago, when my husband started renovating the bathroom and toilet in our Japanese-style house. When he has free time, he works ...