Last-minute mailing over Christmas



Oh Lord, it’s nearly Christmas again, and those of us (and I include myself here) who still have packets and cards to be mailed abroad need to get our skates on.

Some dates for posting from a list in Japanese supplied by the Post Office are as follows (if no mention is made of parcels, it’s officially too late): parcels to the U.S. today, and cards by Dec. 14; cards to Canada by Dec. 12; parcels to Brazil by Dec. 13 and cards by Dec. 15; parcels and cards to Argentina (which needs all the good cheer it can get) by Dec. 14. Parcels and cards to Finland by Dec. 13; parcels and cards to the U.K. by Dec. 19; cards to the Philippines today; parcels to South Korea by Dec. 13 and cards by Dec. 16.

As for sending “nengajo” — traditional Japanese greetings cards welcoming in the new year and sent to arrive on New Year’s Day, the Post Office says they should be in the postbox by Dec. 25 to definitely arrive by Jan. 1. “However,” said a spokesman, “if you post them by Dec. 28, we will do our best, but we can’t promise.” Fair enough.

Many people spend a fortune getting nengajo printed professionally, or spend ages printing them out by computer.

For over a decade now I have used a local Fuji photographic outlet to print cards bearing a recent family photo and greetings in Japanese and English.

Recently a friend visiting from Australia told me that she takes them out every Christmas — all 14 of them — and lines them up so that she can see me aging before her very eyes. Well . . . er, thanks Louise.

Those with time on their hands and of a creative bent make their own cards. The cheapest way, however, is to go sit in the post office and use one of the freely available decorative stamps.

2003 is the Year of the Sheep in the Chinese calendar, so designs are suitably baa-like, and bear appropriate messages of greeting in kanji. “Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu” is the most common, and the term for greeting neighbors and colleagues at the beginning of the new year.

Gunma goat cheese

We got a mail from Lisa Ueki in Gunma Prefecture on the subject of goat cheese.

While I recommended the Seijoshi chain (the branch to which I was referring specifically was in Shinagawa Station), she would like to suggest Junichi Kuami as another possible source.

“Mr Kumai and his wife Setsuko raise goats in Fujimi-mura in Gunma,” she writes. “They produce several types of cheese that are available for sale from mid-April through late December.” (Cheese is not available during the months that the goats are pregnant.) The fresh goat cheese, a soft spreading type, sells for 300 yen for 100 grams.

To place an order or for more information, contact them directly at 027-288-5590.

Database search

Nick, an elementary English school teacher in Aichi-ken, writes: “I have children in my schools of mixed nationality marriages or of foreign exchange workers.”

He wants to know of any database to help parents (and/or school teachers) deal with the integration of non-native, low-level Japanese speakers into Japanese schools. Perhaps something to help parents organize their children’s learning, or a contact for some parent groups or assisting organizations?

Rental guarantees

It has been pointed out that Japan Group of Consultant (sic), based in Shinjuku, also offers a service to foreigners wanting to rent accommodation and requiring a Japanese guarantor. Phone 03-3358-8521, fax 03-3358 8525. E-mail: luminescence@tokyo.e-mail.ne.jp or check out: www. jgc-luminescence. co. jp/ help for information.

Online stats

Jae Takeuchi was pretty happy with the info supplied for finding online statistics on working women in Japan.

A long time American ex-pat, she found the data is a little old compared with similar data in the U.S., but, as reader Freedom suggested in the Dec. 3 column, the Japan Information Network jin. jcic. or. jp/ is a wonderful source for all kinds of information.

She says: “The Japan Reference page ( www. japanreference. com/ ) is good too.”

For those interested, as of 1994, 50.2 percent of Japanese women over 15 worked, making up 40.5 percent of the total workforce, and 32.5 percent of all female salaried workers worked part-time.

For more recent data, the government bookshop in Otemachi really is the best bet.