| Apr 21, 2009

Travel by train on a budget

Rail on the cheap In Japan for only a limited time, J.K. is desperate to travel and see as much as possible. But there’s a problem. “Cash is pretty limited. Are there any money-saving ways of traveling by train in Japan?” The deal most ...

| Apr 14, 2009

Seeking permanence; ignoring Easter

Easter absence Brenda and family wonder why Easter has been ignored by Japanese commercial interests. “All those chocolate eggs and cards with bunnies! I would have thought Japan would have lapped up the possibilities for making money, as it has with Christmas and Valentine’s ...

| Mar 24, 2009

Tatami care, and dust to dust

Spring cleaning Kate wonders if it is OK to wash tatami mats. “I’m spring-cleaning,” she writes. Begin by vacuuming to clear the floor of any dry material. Then, using a cloth, wipe the mats, following the run of the weave. If you go against ...

| Mar 10, 2009

Antiwar groups, Almond and Michi Aoyama

Nuts! Where’s Almond? Julie was with friends on a bus passing through Roppongi and saw from the window that the famed Almond coffee shop on the crossing was no more. “How is this possible?” she asks. “My friends say it has been there forever.” ...

| Mar 3, 2009

Working holidays and Amerasian roots

Mareen, an 18-year-old German citizen, spent three weeks in Japan, loved it, and now wants to come back. “I thought about working as an au pair. But I can’t find an agency that cooperates with Japanese families. I’d like to visit in July or ...

| Feb 17, 2009

Dealing with a death abroad

Reader S.B. seeks advice on how to deal with arrangements following the death of a foreign relative in Japan. This process can be very complicated for family and friends, especially if they are non-Japanese. You will need two documents: The first is the death ...

| Feb 10, 2009

'Neko-cide' prevention; document dealings

‘Contemplating neko-cide’ writes, “There is a cat next door that in meowing all night causes me to lose sleep, which then hurts my performance at work.” The cat is not in CN’s building, but the one next-door, with a balcony alongside his bedroom window. ...

| Nov 18, 2008

Escalator etiquette, TV tours

A couple of replies to the query about why people stand on escalators on the right in Osaka and on the left in Tokyo: Wayne says we should tell the reader who asked that it wasn’t so long ago that a person would have ...

Translating in the spirit of samurai

Nov 8, 2008

Translating in the spirit of samurai

Iehiro Tokugawa arrives at the publishing house Kobunsha, for which he works on occasion as a translator, accompanied by his Vietnamese wife. He is all in black; she is in blue jeans with a waterfall of shining hair down her back, and very lovely ...

Inside the Japanese pub

Nov 1, 2008

Inside the Japanese pub

Mark Robinson, author of “Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook” (Kodansha International, May 2008) is recently back in Tokyo from New York, where he spent three weeks “signing books at stores like Barnes & Noble, meeting people and seeking inspiration.” Though the word from the ...