| Nov 3, 2012

Time stands still on Amami Oshima

We had already been on Amami Oshima for a week waiting for Typhoon No. 21 to pass. But the typhoon was meandering around the Pacific like a drunken sailor, zigzagging a path north-west, once making a U-turn then righting itself, and another time its ...

| Oct 6, 2012

Teaching compassion for all living things

As the distinguished gaijin on the island (ie: the only foreigner here), the Shiraishi Island Elementary school asked me to come and give a speech to third- and fourth-year students. All four of them. “We want to teach the students compassion for all living ...

Pro tips on how to act like a native Japanese

| Sep 29, 2012

Pro tips on how to act like a native Japanese

This column is for Kim Bostwick, who is moving to Japan this week. I’ve made a list of pertinent things to know for her smooth transition into Japanese culture. Do these things, and people will mistake you for a native Japanese: 1. The first ...

| Sep 22, 2012

Japanese as a second body language

Continuing a lifetime study of how the Japanese can be so darn polite, today we look at body language. If you study Japanese as a second language, then I suggest you also study Japanese as a second body language too. Once you have learned ...

| Sep 15, 2012

Bone up on your tax audit ninjutsu to fight back

Our island of 602 people has a PA system that is used to make important public announcements. While these announcements usually concern typhoon warnings, ferry cancellations and funeral announcements, the PA system is not limited to these. Temple ceremonies are announced too, such as ...

| Sep 8, 2012

Do you overestimate your dental IQ?

I really feel sorry for dentists because they have to deal with difficult patients, especially those who have inflated ideas about their own dental IQ. I recently went in to have some dental work finished that had been started six months ago. I just ...