Handicap Man!

Jul 20th, 2006 Family & Friends Douglas 1 min read

When Yumi received the phone call, I could tell she was gravely concerned. After all, her father’s health had deteriorated to the point of requiring dialysis three times a week. What I hadn’t expected when we arrived in Japan was how boastful he had become about his new found status. He was now officially “first class handicap,” and had a passport-like booklet to prove it….

Magic Water: Watch Your Money Disappear!

May 13th, 2005 Family & Friends Douglas 1 min read

Once I realized the problem, I no choice but to form a one-man intervention. The ring of the bell next door followed by the ceremonial “Konittiwa!” could only mean one thing – The unrelenting salesman had returned and would do so daily. Living in the house next to us was Okaasan’s longtime friend, who I referred to as “Next-door Obaachan,” and while her husband was…

Correction: A Land of Welders

May 18th, 2004 General, Travel Douglas 1 min read

OK… if surgical masks are a must have in Japan then so are elbow-length white gloves and hats with plastic protective shields in front. Apparently, as much as the common cold is their enemy, so is the sun. I noticed this phenomenon the other day when I witnessed one obaachan riding a bicycle down a narrow sidewalk wearing long white burlesque gloves, a surgical mask,…

A Land of Doctors

May 16th, 2004 General, Travel Douglas 1 min read

Many people in Japan wear white surgical masks when our in public on trains, buses, even when driving alone in a car. From the look of things, one would think that Japan is a country full of doctors. But I’m told in these crowded conditions, colds are easily passed along which is why people wear the white masks. Ironically when I visited the hospital, no…

Song Stuck in My Head

Apr 3rd, 2004 General, Travel Douglas 1 min read

Ever had a song stuck in your head? How about for more than a year? I’ve been walking around Japan with the same tune rattling around my skull for some time… “Motto motto, Takemoto! Piano utte choudai!” For godsakes, I don’t even own a piano so leave me alone!

Lost in Japan

Mar 12th, 2004 Travel Douglas 1 min read

I’ve now lived long enough in Japan to realize three things: Unlike Americans, the Japanese are always kind to family and occasionally rude to strangers The Japanese are America’s best friend (though no one bothered to tell America) A white guy walking in a Japanese suburb ALWAYS looks lost.

Unrelenting Salesman

Jan 27th, 2004 Family & Friends, Travel Douglas 1 min read

The art of door to door sales has not been lost in Japan as each day brings another unrelating salesman. Yesterday, Okaasan was unfortunate enough to answer. The man handed her his business card as he began his pitch. He attempted to convince her that she really needed her house painted and from his tone it seemed somewhat urgent that she have it done IMMEDIATELY!…

Napping Businessmen

Jan 23rd, 2004 General, Travel, Work Douglas 1 min read

Note to self…. Ask someone why businessmen can often be seen taking afternoon naps in their automobiles, parked in plain view on city streets.

Space Heaters: The Last Frontier

Jan 9th, 2004 Family & Friends, Travel Douglas 1 min read

Reality pitches its tent where science and imagination converge… Yesterday a team of astrophysicists in Australia detected galaxies about 10.8 billion light years away in a remote region of the universe. With light traveling at 9.5 trillion kilometers in one year, this means the galaxies are being observed as they appeared 10.8 billion years ago. Meanwhile, this morning while standing outside Okaasan’s house in the…

Watch Out for Fire!

Dec 29th, 2003 Family & Friends, Travel Douglas 1 min read

Sometimes traditions refuse to die even when no one can quite explain them. Tonight I walked with the “Hino Youjin” (he-no-yo-jean) choir. At the end of every year, citizens get together to patrol their neighborhoods warning everyone to watch out for fire (as the paper-homed Japan had a long history of burning down). It’s an eerie sound to those of us who do not understand…