Transit visas, flowers and massage

by Angela Jeffs

U.S. transit visa

A cautionary tale from Omar, who several weeks ago went to Narita to take a flight back to Mexico City via the U.S. Having spent most of his remaining yen, he was told he could not leave without a transit visa under the Visa Waiver Program from the U.S. Embassy.

It was not just having to fill in the form to apply for the visa that was the problem — it was having to wait for an interview.

It seems that since last August, certain nationalities must now offer themselves up at the embassy to be interviewed for even the shortest transit via any American airport. This seems to apply especially where Mexico and Canada are involved.

Check out the Web site for more information at usembassy.gov

Bloomin’ May

Jim and his wife are coming to Japan in mid-May, visiting the Kanto region and also Kyoto. They are wondering what flowers will be blooming at that time and where to see some fine displays.

In Kanto, the cherry blossoms will be long gone. Wisteria — now in full luxuriant fall — also.

Instead, look for iris (“shobu”), the plant traditionally associated with Boy’s Day on May 5. (Leaves were put into bathwater to toughen them up, bushido-wise.) In line with the sexual equality laws of the 1980s, Boy’s Day is now known as Children’s Day (“Kodomo no Hi”).

But back to irises, which can be best seen in Meiji-jingu’s gardens — a marvelous splash, if you can see through the artists’ easels set up around the pond.

Down in Kyoto, take in the Hollyhock Festival (“Aoi Matsuri”) on May 15. The procession, featuring Heian-period-clad women carrying the flowers and decorated “gissha” (carts pulled by bullocks), will start out at 10.30 a.m. from Kyoto-gosho (the Imperial Palace) and walk along Kawasa-machi-dori to finish up at Shimogamo-jinja shrine at 11:40 a.m.

En route, get off the shinkansen at Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture. From April 8 to Oct. 11, the Shizuoka International and Horticultural Exhibition offers 6,000 types of flora, and some 5 million plants, covering a 56-hectare site on the side of Hamana-ko lake.

Bilingual film titles

A reader has lost the Web site address for finding bilingual film titles online. Answer: http://cinema.media.iis.u-tokyo.ac.jp/

Massage therapist

Carol Miyazaki now has a Web site: www.naturalhealingcenter.com/creative/carolmiyazaki.htm

She specializes in Ayurvedic and aromatherapy massage, Belavi facelift massage, and pre-natal and post-natal maternity massage.

She is also a Reiki Master, interested not only in practicing her skills but also in passing them on in teaching sessions.