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...

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Figuring Out Stoplights in Japan

I’ve always found traffic lights in America to be pretty easy to understand. The solid red light means stop, the solid green means go, and the solid yellow means go real fast, there’s still time. (You should check that...

How to Get a Refund in Japan

If I had to sum up the process of getting a refund for something you bought in Japan, it would be this: You can’t. Well, that’s not entirely true. You can absolutely get a refund for some purchases. But compared to how...

Enjoying Your Japanese Meiwaku Towel

Do you ever have one of those days where you perform major remodeling on the exterior of your home, inflicting several weeks of construction noise and dust on your neighbors? I hate it when that happens. But when it...

Visiting Tokyo During a Pandemic

When I moved to Japan a few years ago, I expected to engage in local tourism: visit thousand-year-old temples and castles, take in a bit of sumo or Noh, ride the bullet train to the far reaches of the country, have my...

Enjoying Japanese Onsen Tamago at Home

Sometimes on a lazy weekend morning, I venture out to my local Denny’s for breakfast. Mind you, this isn’t the American version of Denny’s. You won’t find oversized Grand Slam plates or umpteen ways of serving up fried...

The Little Joys of Everyday Life (in Japan)

There are so many big cultural touchstones that draw people to Japan from across the globe. Manga and anime, sushi and tempura, bullet trains and sports cars, rakugo and Noh, sumo and karate; the list seems endless. And...

Apartment Shopping in Japan

Finding a new place to live can be stressful. Beyond the pressure of getting “the perfect place,” you have to think about square footage, price, location, good schools for the kids, noisy neighbors, and commute times...