Tag - so-what-the-heck-is-that

 
 

SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT

Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Oct 15, 2009
Underground rice paddies in Otemachi
Dear Alice,Please settle a bet. I met this guy in a bar who swore up and down that there are secret subterranean rice paddies all over Tokyo, part of a hush-hush government program to feed the national body in the event of nuclear war. In fact, he insisted a paddy was planted deep underground wherever it was we were drinking that night. Otemachi, I think. Can you check out what the heck he was talking about? I've got ¥5,000 riding on this.
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Sep 17, 2009
Statue outside Shinjuku Sumitomo Building
Dear Alice,On the premises of the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building in Tokyo there is a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. It's quite big — larger than lifesize. I've known about it for years, since the building was first constructed, but no one has ever been able to tell me what the heck a prominent saint has to do with the Sumitomo Company! Can you please find out? (As an aside, the statue next to that one seems to be of a very destitute person! She has nothing at all to put on!)
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Jul 16, 2009
Ishigaki
Dear Alice, Is it weird to love a wall? I recently visited the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and was totally blown away by a high rock embankment on the far side of the moat. That rugged face! Those elegant lines! I am completely enchanted and want to know anything at all you can tell me. But there's one thing that bothers me: Aren't walls like that built for defense? If so, why the heck didn't they make it smoother and steeper? With all those spaces between the rocks it would be a cinch to climb.
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Jun 18, 2009
Shichimi
Dear Alice, Based on my forays into Japanese restaurants in North America, I was under the impression that Japanese cuisine didn't feature any spicy flavorsat all. Then, on my first trip to Japan, I wandered into a restaurant that specializes in soba noodles. When my order came, the waitress drew my attention to a little wooden tube on the table and indicated I should sprinkle the spice inside onto my noodles. I was surprised how piquant it was! I now know it's called shichimi — "seven flavors" — so I assume it has seven ingredients. But what the heck are they?
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
May 21, 2009
Wild orchids
Dear Alice, Can you please find out what the heck I saw on Mount Takao on the outskirts of Tokyo? Last spring, about this time of year, I was on a trail with a lot of other hikers lugging cameras and tripods. All of a sudden everyone got very excited. Not knowing Japanese, I had no idea what they were talking so animatedly about, but one lady directed my attention to a group of pinkish white flowers high up in a fir tree. I think she was trying to tell me the name of the flower, which sounded something like "sankukuran." Everyone was taking pictures. Not knowing what else to do, I took one too. Leon de O., Tokyo
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Apr 16, 2009
'No-wash rice' (musenmai)
Dear Alice,I recently returned to Japan after 12 years back in my home country. I knew a lot of things would be different after such a long time away, but I never expected the rice to have changed! My former home-stay mom was always a stickler about washing the rice thoroughly before cooking, but when I went to visit the other day she didn't rinse it even once. She says she uses "no-wash rice" now. What the heck is that? And while you're at it, can you explain why it was ever necessary to wash Japanese rice in the first place?
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Mar 19, 2009
Feral parakeets
Dear Alice, Please settle an argument. I play tennis on the public courts in Arisugawa Park in central Tokyo. On several occasions I have seen bright-green noisy birds flying free around the tall outdoor lights there. I'm convinced these gregarious dandies are wild parrots. My wife says I'm out of my mind because Tokyo is way too cold for tropical birds. Can you please find out what the heck those birds are — and who the heck is right?
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Feb 19, 2009
Tome ishi
Dear Alice, Recently I toured a beautiful traditional garden in Kyoto with a Japanese friend. At a fork in the path, I was about to turn to the right when my friend stopped me and said we were not supposed to go that way. I did as she said, but couldn't understand how she knew. She'd never been there before, and there was no sign or gate. When it happened again, I asked her to explain. She pointed to a rock tied in twine, sitting atop a stepping stone, and claimed that means "no entry." How the heck can that be? And is this something all Japanese people know?
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Jan 22, 2009
Dekopon
Dear Alice,My husband attended a business dinner late last year at a very fancy traditional Japanese restaurant. At the end of the evening, as he was heading out the door, the kimono-clad proprietress presented him with a gift of a single piece of fruit. It was like a large orange but with a weird pear shape. I've rarely tasted anything so delicious. I looked but I couldn't find it in any store. Can you please find out what the heck that fruit is?
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Dec 16, 2008
Manhole covers
Dear Alice,
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Nov 18, 2008
Kokuwa (monkey pear)
Dear Alice,
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Oct 21, 2008
JR gestures
Dear Alice, Until recently I lived in Tokyo and commuted on the JR Chuo Sobu Line from Kameido Station. I made it a practice to ride in the last compartment of the train, just so I could enjoy the spectacle of the driver making those sincere hand gestures at each and every station. I've seen the same thing on other train and subway lines, so I'm sure there is a very good reason they do this. But what the heck is it?
Japan Times
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Sep 30, 2008
Jitensha odantai
Dear Alice,
Japan Times
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Jul 15, 2008
Tanuki genitals
Dear Alice,
Japan Times
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Jun 17, 2008
Idling drivers
Dear Alice,
Japan Times
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May 20, 2008
Anti-crime color balls
Dear Alice, I've spotted pairs of plastic Day-Glo orange baseballs sitting in polystyrene containers behind the counter at banks and convenience stores. My friend reckons they have them in police stations too. Can you please tell us what the heck they are?
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Apr 15, 2008
Kyodo bochi
Dear Alice,
Japan Times
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Mar 18, 2008
Pocket bells
Dear Alice,
Japan Times
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Feb 19, 2008
Chuhai
Dear Alice,
Japan Times
Reference / SO WHAT THE HECK IS THAT
Jan 15, 2008
Bento grass
Dear Alice,

Longform

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