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Thursday, Aug. 1, 2002


Support groups for foreign spouses and kimono essentials

Since it's too hot to hang around chatting, let's plunge straight in.

To the reader in Chofu, Tokyo (Lifelines -- June 20), wanting to know how and where to learn about wearing kimono, there are several choices, depending on the level of experience.

If you want to try on kimono as part of a wider experience, a Japan Culture Visit may well be the answer. This involves visiting Atsuko Ikuyama's home in Setagaya, where guests can experience origami, ikebana, tea ceremony, calligraphy and the different styles of kimono for men, women and children, and special occasions like weddings.

Atsuko has been offering this service for over 16 years. Each visit lasts two hours and cost depends on content. She will visit your own home, and even set up special demonstrations for up to 100 people in a tea house or hotel.

The family photo in kimono for Christmas or New Year may be of special interest. JVC will arrange this for you at a cost of 1 yen,000-4,000 yen per person, depending on the kimono. Phone or fax 03-3484 7898 for details; fluent English is spoken.

If you want to buy kimono -- or at this time of the year, yukata (the light casual cotton robe that has been passed down from hot spring bathing practices of old) -- a good store of tradition and reputation like Takashimaya will show you how to wear it, as part of its sales service.

Likewise your local kimono shop might be worth a try.

To study kimono on a deeper level, Zen Nihon Kimono Shinkokai (Japan Association for the Promotion of Kimono) holds regular seminars.

Each course of eight two-hour lessons costs 35,000 yen. They run continuously through Mondays to Fridays, from 11 a.m.-8 p.m., with no more than three people taught at one time.

Classes are held in Tokyo in Kudan (near Yasukuni-jinja) and Karasuyama, between Shinjuku and Chofu. Check with the school for other locations in Japan.

You will need to speak a little Japanese, however. These courses are not in English, though they are essentially hands-on. Phone 03-3308-1246; fax; 03-3308-1247 for more information.

A reader wondering about groups for non-Japanese married to Japanese.

"Being married to a salaryman, with small children, I'm on a fixed income. I just cannot afford subscription fees," she says.

How about Married in Japan? MIJ is an online community for foreign women in a relationship with a Japanese man and there are no membership fees. As organizer Tracey Okuma says, "members feel friendship and support should have no price."

Activities are organized by the members themselves, with luncheons, picnics, play dates for the children, swap meets and other seasonal gatherings.

"The ups and downs (of living in Japan) are best shared with friends, who can give you advice, support and friendship. MIJ is a place to network with other women who share similar lifestyles," says Tracey.

The MIJ web site is www.foreignwives.homestead.com/MIJ

Alternatively, you can contact: tracy@mx9.ttcn.ne.jp

Also, United for a Multicultural Japan (UMJ) provides support for foreign spouses with Japanese partners. Check out www.ufj.gol.com/umj_info/about

The Association for Multicultural Families (AMF) is mainly for Japanese women in relationships with non-Japanese, but it is also a resource for the whole family, with picnics and outings for multicultural families. The Web site, in Japanese only, is at: www.nnc.or.jp/~aikawa

Realizing from their own experiences the problems that face Japanese women/men in marriages with men/women from other countries, seven women decided to form an association to assist other couples facing the same problems.

Kokusai Kekkon wo Kanaerukai now has over 400 women members, with spouses from more than 50 countries. The association has chapters in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto and Fukuoka, and has established a reputation as a leading advocate for the civil rights of Japanese married to foreign nationals.

You can contact the group at: Tokyo: junki@gol.com; Nagoya: staples@mwe.biglobe.ne.jp; Kyoto: lalloz@mbox.kyoto-inet.or.jp; Osaka: atvnovs7@gol.com; Fukuoka: Toshiko@intercomltd.com; Abroad: kebichiyo@pop01.odn.ne.jp

Many thanks to Tracey of MIJ for all this hands-on information.

Now , just a small correction. Last week, we gave an incorrect Web site address for information on the earthquake emergency center in Tokyo. The correct address is www.disasterjapan.com. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Finally, how about some advice on how to stay cool and energized in this heat? We'll print as many ideas as come in over the next couple of weeks. Also next time: computer clubs.

E-mail: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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