| Oct 11, 2013

Cryptomeria in thrilling 3D

“Here,” he says and plops down a manuscript. He has eyes so earnest they gleam like headlights on bright. “I have written a screenplay.” And now, I think, is the time to run. To tell him I’ve got a train to catch, a job ...

| Sep 27, 2013

When worlds collide

My Japanese language skills mostly stink. And always have. Yet it’s an odor to which I’ve grown accustomed. My excuse is that I came here to work, had little time for study and when I found I could get by, that’s just what I ...

| Sep 13, 2013

My day at the races

The surface of the coffee in my Starbucks cup begins its gentle dance, the signal to lift my head. No, this is not “Jurassic Park” and the vibration is not due to an approaching T-Rex. It’s Takadanobaba and the train station quivers with the ...

| Aug 16, 2013

Some words of self-introduction

Ask what’s good about life in Japan and answers always vary. One foreign resident’s passion is often another’s poison and you can count on similar divergence with what makes Japan difficult. Language, commuter trains, high costs, big bugs — everyone has their own particular ...

| Jul 19, 2013

Knocking on knickknacks

My grandma used to be the easiest of all my relatives to buy souvenirs for. That’s because she was a collector and, like many a collector, what she collected most was . . . . . . junk. And Japan is full of junk. ...

| Jul 5, 2013

Stressing on stress

The Internet is ablaze with lists suggesting ways to fight back against the deadliest foe of modern man — stress. Yes, stress. It will boil your blood pressure, electrify your nerves, scramble your stomach, ruin your happiness and lead you straight to the grave. ...

| Jun 22, 2013

The death of civilization

I once had this Japanese student who told me he could tell a book’s publisher from the smell. He would close his eyes, crush a paperback into his face and inhale. Deeply. As if sucking down a cold beer after a hot day on ...