| 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 ...

| Sep 24, 2011

Amore mio, Aomori

With reconstruction underway and tourism returning to northern Japan, Aomori Prefecture is once again a viable tourist destination. You can ride the Hayabusa (not the space probe, but the bullet train) and probe northern Japan. As the new bullet train pierces the northernmost reaches ...

Why you shouldn't worry about receiving a pension

| Sep 17, 2011

Why you shouldn't worry about receiving a pension

Worried about all those years you have, or haven’t, contributed to the Japanese pension system? Worry no more! The good news is that you won’t need a pension from the Japanese government anyway. In honor of Respect for the Aged Day, I’ll explain why. ...

| Sep 10, 2011

The power of spiders in rural Japan

Although I have lived in Japan’s countryside for well over a decade, I have only recently come to understand the power of spiders. I’ve seen one spider put the fear of God into an entire family of foreign tourists. Even the shyest spider only ...

| Sep 3, 2011

When people ask, 'Do you remember me?'

Believe it or not, many Japanese people go to the beach just once a year, go skiing for one day a year and have a BBQ . . . once a year! It’s no wonder Western holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas have ...

| Aug 27, 2011

Do you know the origins of sea salt?

The Japanese summer is officially over. But the heat lingers. Japan is a hot and humid country, which comes as a surprise to newcomers who can’t really imagine humidity at 70 or 80 percent with no rain. Many foreigners come to terms with their ...

World's best shoppers at my beach shop

| Aug 20, 2011

World's best shoppers at my beach shop

Having run a beach shop for eight years now, I’ve been able to observe the shopping practices of the Japanese firsthand. My summer shop on the island, mainly stocked with accessories and beach clothing, is targeted toward women on vacation. As I was telling ...