Curing that constant chocolate craving

Food for thought

Steph in Saitama writes: “I like Japanese food a lot, but every now and then I get a craving for goodies that are nowhere to be found in my area. I could ask my mom to send a care package, but I’d feel silly asking her to send an emergency supply of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Any suggestions?”

If you can’t find what you’re looking for at the National Azabu in Hiroo, you might try Meidi-ya, which has six stores in Tokyo (including Hiroo and Roppongi), Nissin World Delicatessen (located in Azabu Juban, near Roppongi), or Kinokuniya, which has five stores in Tokyo, the largest in Aoyama, near Omotesando station.

Some of the major hub stations on the Yamanote line — Ueno and Shinagawa, for example — have small markets that sell foreign food. There is also an American Pharmacy in Ueno Station and near Tokyo Station on the Marunouchi where you can buy imported candy (though not Reese’s).

Many foreigners also go to Costco (www.costco.co.jp/eng), a bulk wholesaler that specializes in imported food and has locations in Tokyo, Chiba, Osaka and Yokohama. If you end up buying more than you can carry home, Costco offers low-price next-day deliveries. But to get in the door you need a one-year membership for 4,200 yen.

But if you prefer hassle-free shopping, try the Foreign Buyer’s Club (www.fbcusa.com/public2/), a mail-order company that has a wide selection of American, Australian and European foods. FBC also carries your favorite Reese’s (36 two-cup packs for 3,147 yen).

In the webbing

Jason writes: “I’ve got a friend who is playing baseball in Japan and I’d like to know how he’s doing. Are there any Web sites where I can find his box scores and stats?”

The Japan Times publishes game stories on its Web site (www.japantimes.co.jp) every day throughout the season. If you want box scores and stats — and can read a little Japanese, or know someone who can — the best place to go is the TBS Web site ( www.tbs.co.jp/baseball/top/main.html ).

But if you can’t get someone to translate for you, there are some very good Japanese baseball Web sites out there.

Bob Bavasi, former owner of the minor league Everett AquaSox and brother of Seattle Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi, runs www.japan ball.com and conducts tours of Japan for American baseball fans. His site has news, schedules, stats and other good information.

Another popular Web site is Michael Westbay’s www.japanesebaseball.com , where a lot of J-ball fans post messages and ask questions.

Something fishy going on

Jack Halibutt writes in with a problem: “My friend is an avid bird-watcher, and he’ll be in Japan soon for some specialized bird-watching. He says you can attract sea birds by pouring fish oil into the water behind the boat. It seems the birds are attracted to the smell of the oil. Can you tell me where I can get some of this?”

Birdwatching expert Chris Cook suggests your friend contact the Wild Bird Society of Japan (phone 03-5358-3584). Or you can try contacting the Tsukiji fish market (www.tsukiji-market.or.jp) at 03-3547-7074.

Those interested in private birdwatching tours in Japan can contact Chris at japanbirdguide@hotmail.com

Left in the lurch

David writes: “I have a coworker who just flew to Europe for a vacation and before he left he asked me to finish up a project for him. He said he would get most of it done, and that I’d only have to spend an hour or so finishing it up. So I agreed to help. But once the cowardly deadbeat was out of the country, I discovered he had left a lot of other stuff undone. Now I feel like wringing his neck. What should I do?”

Sadly, working with deadbeats is a fact of life. If it doesn’t take too much time, go ahead and do the work. If “o-miyage” and beer coupons are not forthcoming once he’s back, tell him it’s the last favor he’ll ever get from you.