Mac has a Japanese girlfriend and sometimes feels completely lost as to what is going on.

“I know I am dealing with cultural issues, but where can I get advice and help? Actually, I have had several Japanese girlfriends and none of the relationships work out. What am I doing wrong?”

Mac, begin by asking yourself about relationships before you came to Japan. Were they any better? Have you considered that maybe it is what you are bringing to a relationship that possibly creates problems, hindering it from developing and flowering? A visit to a counselor might be a good idea if any of the above resonates.

Otherwise, take a look at David Radtke’s e-book “Understanding Japanese Women” — which is a lot more serious than it sounds — at www.japandatingtips.com/e-book.html. American Radtke — a translator, international consultant, and relationship counselor who has been living in Japan for 14 years — makes it clear that his advice has absolutely nothing to do with trying to get Japanese women into bed. Instead, the e-book takes a serious look at the differences between the relationship cultures of Japan and the West. It is meant to help Western men (and indeed men of other cultures also) solve the problems they encounter when dating — or even marrying — Japanese women.

“I myself have been married to a Japanese woman for almost 10 years now,” he writes. He says he has lived through the confusion that almost all men face in interracial relationships with Japanese women. “My goal for the e-book was to take everything I have learned so far and teach it to others so that they can avoid the mistakes I’ve made in the past.”

Topics covered include: how Japanese women view relationships; their role in a relationship; what she expects a man to do; what she expects a man not to do; how to interact with Japanese women in general; cultural dos and don’ts; and whether learning Japanese is necessary.

Radtke adds that “Understanding Japanese Women” has received lots of appreciative testimonials, some of which can be found on the site. “Two men even mentioned to me (privately) that the e-book saved their marriages from divorce. To me this is the highest praise it could receive!”

An American couple from the East Coast are over here now for a limited time only, and have had enough of urban sprawl.

“Mostly we have been with our family in central Tokyo. But now we have a week or so left and want to see a different side of Japan. We don’t want to go too far, but would like to get some use out of our Japan rail passes, which at this point in time seem a bit of a waste of money.”

I suggest you take the shinkansen down to Nagoya, then head across country toward the Japan Alps — a lovely ride in itself — by small private lines to Takayama. This is a lovely town, steeped in history and culture, and surrounded by green in the shelter of the Japan Alps.

Not far away — a 40-minute bus ride — is Shikakawa-go, the village of “gassho-zukuri” farmhouses designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995. Gassho-zukuri literally means “resembling hands ‘steepled’ in prayer.”

From there, go back to Nagoya and aim for either Kyoto and Nara or Osaka, where you can head for Himeji Castle (another world heritage site) or change again onto a private line and then a funicular railway to ascend to the monumental trees, temples and monasteries of Koya-san.

This whirlwind tour of central Japan will surely help use up your passes and give you some very different impressions to take back to New Jersey.

In a previous issue, John le Maire was trying to get in touch with an old colleague, Tony Fordyce. Tony got in touch with us but unfortunately John’s contact number had been deleted in error. If John would like to get in touch again, Tony is keen to make contact. Many apologies to all concerned.

Staying on the “desperately seeking” theme, Dr. Martin Lema is looking for longtime friends Parvin (who is Iranian) and Mami Hibino, both of whom apparently live in Nagoya. Can anyone help put him in touch?

Send your questions, queries, problems and posers to community@japantimes.co.jp.

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