| 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 ...

| Aug 13, 2011

Returning the seaweed to the sea

Imagine yourself out on the Seto Inland Sea in a boat. You’re by yourself, floating along happily. You open a beer and kick back for a while letting the boat drift in tranquility. You can see the shore, but it’s a bit far to ...

| Aug 6, 2011

Uncovering your hidden ninja

If you’re wondering where all the ninja are these days, I can tell you. They’re hiding within the bodies of people you’d never suspect, such as your next door neighbor. Our island has a very high concentration of modern ninja, whom I will define ...

| Jul 30, 2011

The creeping crud on my hands

Recently, I have had this creeping crud on my hands. I get it every year. It looks like poison ivy — except that it isn’t. How cruel to have only the effects of something and not the actual something. At least if I had ...