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Friday

Now that winter is upon us, it seems fitting to post something about this author's favorite winter pastime: lounging around naked in hot baths with a bunch of dudes. If you have not tried your local hot spring or "onsen" (温泉), you are missing out on a truely relaxing experience. 

Since both myself and LP have talked about finding local onsen as well as finding semi-private baths, it seems only fitting that we cover some ground rules for onsen bathing.



Wednesday


This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. I just finished calling the electric company to make sure I have light in the new place (and am not still paying for light in the old place). Now I need to call about the water and gas.

Week 4, Monday:
Now that I've got one call done, I approach the next two with more confidence.


The call to the water company runs a course very similar to the electricity call; What's my name and account number? What's my old address? What day do I want the water turned off at the old place? (two weeks from now) What's my new address? And what day do I want the water running there? (today) They also confirm my bank account details.

Now all that's left is the gas.



Monday

Japan is big in the world of social networking. I don't mean Facebook or LINE or whatever else is popular for showing your friends how many friends you have. I mean, in order to get things done in Japan (just like elsewhere), it helps a lot to "know a guy" or to have some connection.

Examples? In all the job interviews I've passed here, the interviewers at some point dropped the phrase, 何か縁があるようですね。 "Oh, you went to that university? We're invested in a research center there." "Oh, you play concert piano? We're affiliated with a conservatory." "Oh, you taught at that school? My daughter's a graduate." Who your family is, where you went to school, and who you work for are all a big deal, and being able to say, "I was referred to you by such-and-such," can open doors that may have otherwise stuck fast. (Interestingly, this is the same country in which references are often unasked for in job applications.)



But perhaps the biggest examples of this reference culture in Japan is the guarantor.



Friday

Continuing on from our introduction to marriage in Japan, today we will look at fun-filled process of selecting wedding venues.

If you are not a girl, chances are that embarking on a search for the perfect wedding hall is about as exciting as filing your income tax returns. But if you are an awesome husband-to-be-like myself, you will devote your every waking hour to helping your dear fiancee find the wedding venue of her dreams.



Wednesday

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. I just finished cancelling my old contracts, and now I'm ready to move in--almost. Before I get the key, I need to make some important phone calls.

Week 4, Monday:
After a relaxing weekend, which may or may not have involved packing things into cardboard boxes, it's time to get back to work.

A gaping hole in my moving plans that I've been blissfully ignoring until now concerns my utilities. I've gotta tell the electricity, gas, and water companies that I need those services stopped at the old place and started at the new place.



Monday

Among the dregs of Japanese television, I have a guilty pleasure. Aside from NHK morning news and those relaxing nature shows (of which I'll write shortly), Japanese TV seems pervaded by questionably acted soap operas and, I think, essentially one cookie-cutter variety show whose shiny chrome finish wears off after you've seen its formula repeated over and over for a few months.

Enter the guilty pleasure. I know that this show I'm about to introduce is just the same thing over and over again. I know it fits the variety show pattern almost to a "T" (--it's only missing the wipe.) And yet I cannot get enough of it. Aside from dry wit I import from home (in quantity to match the local schedule's dearth), it may be the only thing playing on my screen to which I audibly laugh. And laugh I do, with consistency, occasionally to the point of tears.

The show isn't new to old Japan hands. In fact, it's about to enter its 43rd year, the same guy hosting the show since its debut in 1971.



Friday

No doubt you have heard about Japan's legendary $100 melons and various other exorbitantly priced foods. "Gift melons" not withstanding, going to the grocery store in Japan may seem a bit expensive considering the size of the portions you get. However, there is a cheap alternative, at least when it comes to select fruits and vegetables: the chokubai-ten and farmer's market.



Wednesday

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. My new apartment contract is about to start, and I'm running out of time to cancel my old contracts. (That's a plural because my parking space and apartment were contracted separately and spaced a few hundred meters apart from each other.) Last post I cancelled my parking space, and this time I'll get on that old apartment contract.

Week 3, Friday:
When I found and contracted my old apartment, I was using a rental agency. Since these agencies don't usually own the properties that they are showing, they act as intermediaries and are listed as such on the rental contract. In Japanese they're referred to as the 仲介会社 (chuukai gaisha). They introduced you to the apartment, and they may have handled all the documents and details when you signed for it, but the contract is ultimately between you and the owner.

Sometimes the property owner requests that the 仲介会社 handles all the details in termination of a contract, too. But other owners may prefer to handle terminations themselves. That was the case for me.



Monday

Well, now that you're probably wondering whether Amano Foods sent us a big check to write last week's article (ahaha, that's a good one: making money from blogging), we've got another food tip for you.

Because of the really poor fiber content of Japan's omnipresent white rice and very, very white bread, frequent and delicious green, leafy salads can be a great addition to your diet here. (And they give you a good reason to try out all the Japanese-market-specific salad dressings here.)

The problem I run into, though, is that I'm not familiar with a lot of the greens commonly sold here. Sure, I can recognize cabbage (キャベツ), lettuce (レタス), spinach (ほうれん草)--which when you eat raw will bring bug-eyed stares from Japanese people--and even "Chinese cabbage" (白菜), but there are a lot of other greens on the local supermarket shelf that weren't common for me back home.

Today I'll introduce one that's easy to use, cheap, and grown domestically year-round: Mizuna (水菜).



Friday

In Japan, houses and apartments are typically outfitted with either LP gas or "toshi" gas to serve in, primarily, cooking and water heating needs.

Let's take a look at where gas is used in the Japanese house and what the difference between these two types are.



Wednesday

Every once in a while I like to introduce some Japanese product that I've fallen in love with. Miso soup is something I enjoy adding to a meal... but not enough to pull out a pot and make it from scratch every day. And although there are many, many brands that put out single-serving packets of miso soup, it took me a really long time to find one that I thought tasted really good.



Monday


This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. Last post I signed on the new apartment. The contract will now be sent to my guarantor, and in the meantime I have a lot of other things to take care of:

Week 3, Thursday:
I'm ready to move into the new place, and deadlines are coming up for me to contact my current landlords to cancel the contracts on my old apartment and parking space. I'll take care of the parking space today.



Friday

When I bought my car I was told that it came with a "remote engine starter" (rimooto enjin sutaataa リモートエンジンスターター). I am not much of a car person so this wasn't such a big deal to me at the time of purchase. However, I am an extremely lazy person. And now that the the colder months of the year are upon us, I have started to use my starter for the first time to warm up my car.

As it turns out, many drivers in Japan opt for a remote engine starter, even in places that aren't very cold. Let's take a look how to pimp out your J-ride.