| 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 ...

| Nov 5, 2011

What are they thinking?

People in the Japanese countryside do some strange things. It’s enough to make you wonder, “What are they thinking?” Take the person who left their Guppy at the side of the port. Not in the port, mind you, next to the port. It is ...

| Oct 29, 2011

A hippo goes under the drill

The meeting room was packed with dentists in white smocks — men and women, interns and doctors nearing retirement — about 30 of them sitting in front of a screen and another 20 standing along the sides of the room. The lights go out ...

| Oct 22, 2011

Telling time with animals

There are many ways to tell time: the sundial, the 12-hour clock and the 24-hour clock. But there is a much more interesting way to tell time too, one the Japanese used in ancient times: by animal. The animal clock is based on the ...

| Oct 15, 2011

When favors throw you into a vicious circle

The Japanese countryside is a place where the people are so nice, it’s well, ridiculous. Actions that wouldn’t even register in my mind as “thankable” are commonly thanked for here. “Thank you for having my husband over for drinks the other day,” said my ...

| Oct 8, 2011

He waits and measures

My husband went to the local hardware store the other day. What’s so exciting about that? You’ve obviously never been to a hardware store in Japan. Though we have the same experience every time we go, I’ll use the most recent one as an ...