Yokobue

| Mar 17, 2011

Yokobue

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, Last November, I went to Kyushu to see the Karatsu Kunchi festival. It was a wonderful spectacle, with huge, flamboyant floats pulled through crowded streets to the rhythmic accompaniment of drums, music and shouts of “Enya! Enya!” I loved it all, but ...

Bloomers

| Feb 17, 2011

Bloomers

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, I’ve never been to Japan but I do watch the Japanese channel that comes in my cable television package. The programming is in English, so I understand what everyone is saying, but I have to ask one thing: What the heck do ...

Wagashi

| Jan 20, 2011

Wagashi

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, I love desserts of all kinds, but eating my way through the cake shops of Japan is wreaking havoc on my waistline. When I mentioned this to a Japanese friend, she said I need to wean myself off crepes and cream puffs ...

Kiribi

| Dec 16, 2010

Kiribi

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice There is a shop in Ryogoku in Tokyo that sells a rock and a piece of metal as a souvenir set. I am wondering if this has something to do with an old Japanese custom I’ve heard about in which iron is ...

Shrine tags

| Nov 18, 2010

Shrine tags

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, There’s a shrine near where I live that has stickers splattered all over it. The effect is pretty wild and free-spirited, as if a bunch of ravers were let loose on it, and it seems totally out of character for what is ...

Laundry logic

| Sep 16, 2010

Laundry logic

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, I’ve been married for three years to a Japanese woman who insists on doing laundry every day. When I asked her why, she said, “That’s how we do it in Japan.” I find this strange because Japanese people are generally very ecologically ...

Ladies' plans

| Jul 15, 2010

Ladies' plans

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, What the heck are “lady’s” discounts? I’ve only been in Japan for six months, but I’ve already been served a “lady’s lunch” (free coffee and dessert); been to “ladies day” at the movies (almost half price); and went to Kyoto on a ...

Vader ladies

| Jun 17, 2010

Vader ladies

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, What the heck is with all the Darth Vader impersonators in Japan? You know who I mean: the middle-aged ladies who bike around with menacing-looking windshields attached to their heads. I steer clear because the shields completely obscure their faces and I ...

Ear rakes

| Apr 15, 2010

Ear rakes

by Alice Gordenker

Dear Alice, Imagine my horror when I came home one evening to find my Japanese wife bent over our little son, about to thrust a sharpened stick into his ear! I shouted at her to stop, giving her the fright of her life. She ...