What is Japan’s Endgame for Masks?

As we approach the fourth year of this *!&$# pandemic, it’s a good time to start asking how we are going to get out of it. The vaccines and medicines, while a step in the right direction, haven’t cured us yet...

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Volunteering and Fundraising in Japan

Life in a first-world country is often filled with consumption and other trappings of materialism. It is especially difficult to get away from it in the Tokyo-metro area, what with all major train stations built around...

What Should Japan Do About North Korea?

Earlier this week, North Korea launched a series of ballistic missiles, including one that sailed high over Aomori Prefecture, at the north end of Japan’s main island of Honshu. I visited Aomori just last week. It’s a...

The Normal Japanese Life

The first time I flew into Japan, my initial thought as I looked out the jumbo jet window was, “Wow, the roofs are all so blue.” This was back in 1991, and the flight path to Narita passed over homes that were topped...

The Coffee Shop Experience in Japan

I lived for a time in Seattle, where you can’t throw a rock without hitting a software company or coffee shop. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time typing on my laptop with Frappuccino blenders echoing in my ears. Here...

(Not) Getting Medical Care at Night

A few nights ago, my wife suddenly grabbed her stomach in pain. “Ouch,” she said. It was a very loud and long-lasting “ouch,” and as this had happened earlier in the week as well, we thought it best to have a doctor...

Banking Woes for Foreigners in Japan

A core requirement of many grown-up activities in Japan is having a savings account. But there are some adults—law-abiding, financially stable Japanophiles—who not only don’t have a Japanese bank account, they are...