Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Moving: Once You Have the New Address...

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. Yesterday I picked up the keys to my new place and moved in one first load of boxes only to realize the neighbors were staring at me. Now, with keys in hand, I'm about to complete an epic one-day journey around town that has been months in planning.

Week 4, Wednesday:
My schedule is packed today. My to-do list is as follows:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Police Home Visits

Just this weekend I got another visit from my friendly neighborhood police man. This was the second visit this year, although my wife had the pleasure of handling the first one.

Now you may ask. What heinous crime did I commit that warranted a visit from Nagano's finest? Was it lazy garbage sorting?  Or perhaps downloading pirated music? Nope! Actually it was just the police paying a courtesy call the let me know about recent robberies in the area.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

5 Places to Scuba Dive in Japan

Being a scuba instructor, I take an interest in stuff like this. If you dive, or want to learn, Japan has some pretty cool options for you, more often than not with English-language assistance. And it's not just limited to the white-sand paradise of Okinawa. You can don your drysuit and head to Hokkaido, or just a 5-7mm and hit the Eastern coast of Honshu. In fact there are around 2,000 individual dives sites around Japan.

So, here are the five choicest choices:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Moving: Light Fixtures for a Japanese Apartment

This post continues my chronicle of moving to a new apartment in Japan. Today I have a big list of things to get done. One of them is finding a new light fixture for my new bedroom.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Types of Onsen

After recovering a long weekend of all your can eat food and all you can drink micro-brews at a local hot spring (onsen 温泉) hotel, it occurred to me that we here at AccessJ have yet to cover the basic types of onsen facilities found throughout Japan. Although the basic concept of an open-air, hot water spring holds true just about everywhere you go in Japan, there are some important distinctions you should be aware of when choosing your hot spring getaway.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Friday, February 08, 2013

Getting Married in Japan: Registering your marriage

Since I have been a a bit or a roll with wedding topics lately, I figured that I would skip on ahead and cover the oh-so-important topic of marriage registration. This is of particular importance to foreigners due to some extra steps involved.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Why are the Japanese Such Bad Drivers?

When I still lived in Japan, every single time I went anywhere in my car I fumed with rage at the morons cutting me off, braking inexplicably hard in front of me, or truck drivers trying to crush me to death on the expressway. This anger came to a head when an old man caused 800,000yen damage to my car and almost ended my life.

It's no secret that the Asian driver stereotype is a negative one. Anger aside, let's find out if there's a real reason for this.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Cheap Health Foods, Toiletries and Dietary Supplements in Japan

It's fun to run into new products by browsing at my local imported goods/liquor store, thanks to which I've learned, for example, that Swiss cereals are just unapologetic boxes of candy for pouring milk over. But when I have a specific product from home in mind, like a favorite canned soup, I find that shopping online is a much less hit-and-miss experience than the average Japanese import shop.

And for other preferences, like American toothpaste and deodorant, online retailers are often my only option--it's either that or stock up a couple years' supply during visits home... which I also admittedly do.

In past articles, AccessJ has shared some of our favorite online sources for buying supplements (including whey protein) and comfort foods from home. Between the lot of us I think we've used all the sites listed in those articles, and I personally have been a satisfied customer at many.

But the downfall of most overseas retailers is the exorbitant shipping costs. For four ten dollar bottles of vitamin supplements, I once paid almost as much over again getting them across the Pacific. And generic search terms on Google bring up so many retailers to choose from that it's tiring to sort the trustworthy and competitively priced sites from the chaff.

So when I come across a good one, I want to share it.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Getting Married in Japan: Negotiating a price

In our last wedding related article we covered the fine art of going to "wedding fairs" in order to get a first hand look at your dream wedding hall. However, all the tours and food are just the beginning. Once you have you tour and complementary food you are expected to get down to brass tacks and talk about cold, hard cash.