| 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 ...

| Aug 25, 2012

Veterinary clinics for the rich and famous pets

I walked into the veterinarian’s office with my disgruntled cat. I’d been worried about my cat for a week already. Her health was steadily declining and I knew something was seriously wrong when the 4 a.m. Kitty Alarm stopped going off — that feline ...

Who can afford a day on the beach?

| Aug 11, 2012

Who can afford a day on the beach?

“We went to the beach on the mainland,” said a foreign friend, “and it wasn’t very nice.” Why not? I wondered. The Seto Inland Sea has some great beaches. “Well,” she said, “first of all we had to pay ¥1,000 just to park the ...

Cataclysmic circumstances lead to <em>neko</em> strike

| Aug 4, 2012

Cataclysmic circumstances lead to neko strike

Fed up with long working hours, minimal job security and paltry remuneration in Japan’s depressed economy, maneki neko cats all over Japan are going on strike. “I don’t know where the hard-working, beckoning cat image comes from,” said one battery-enhanced cat who agreed to ...