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Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2003


A Jurassic nark, cheap shipping and the health bible

Up in arms

Returning from Australia Thursday last, I opened up my computer to find quite a mixed bag of comments and inquiries, and not all complimentary.

Just to show that I can take the rough with the smooth, allow me to share one response to my reply to reader Mike in Osaka, who was upset and confused by the service charge at an izakaya.

David in Gifu was "up in arms," seeming to think I was saying it was "OK for foreigners to be discriminated against." I think he missed the point. Or maybe I did not explain it clearly enough.

He writes: "Angela Jeffs is such a dinosaur." (Moi?) "She is a foreigner herself. Her attitude perpetuates the hooligan myth of the World Cup last year and the discrimination that was evident in the onsen story in the news a few months ago.

"It's not the culture of discrimination I am angry about; it is her suggesting that foreigners somehow deserve unfair treatment."

Well, David, I thought I was talking only about the culture of discrimination. Nowhere did I use the word "foreigner." Such a service charge can apply to anyone unknown to a bar owner. Remember, I was with my Japanese husband when this happened to me, and the rule applied to us both, equally.

The situation bears no comparison to onsen that bar foreigners, nor World Cup hooligan myths.

Anyway, let's get on.

Tango trail

Wendy rather takes me to task for suggesting a reader contact the Argentine Embassy, "which might be too busy addressing the rights of local Argentine citizens, international trade, and other pressing issues to give out information on tango lessons."

She might well have added the fact that the country has been in meltdown for some time, something I know all too well about as I visited in late 1999 to research a book and have relatives there. Maybe I thought such an inquiry might come as a little light relief?

Anyway, Wendy does have good information, for which a very big thank you.

She says the monthly magazine Keiko and Manabu has an extensive listing of dance lessons, and any lessons for that matter, in the Tokyo metropolitan area. She writes: "The directory in the back lists lessons by category and location. It is a great source for finding lessons or classes of any kind. They also offer local versions for non-Tokyo areas." Excellent.

The downside is that the magazine is in Japanese only. So minus information in English, or unless you can find a Japanese friend to help you go through the magazine, I still think that for wannabe-tango trotters, the embassy is a good bet.

Happy with the post

On the subject of sending goods back home, Marjorey (who shopped around a lot for a good shipper before returning to Canada last October) reckons the best place to go is the local post office.

"You can send 20 kg in one box and it is fairly cheap. We sent 17 boxes back and they arrived by sea in one month. They (the PO) pick up from your home in Japan and deliver to your forwarding address. All you do is pack the boxes and make sure they are not overweight, call the number on the packing form you get from any post office and tell them when to come."

Film titles

Ian Rowberry, who writes from Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, loves to watch movies, as do many foreigners here in Japan, both on video and at the theater.

"However, although the selection at most video rental stores is generally excellent, even in small cities, it can become problematic when there's a specific title one has in mind, as it will often be different in Japanese."

Ian's question, therefore: is there any Web site, or book, which lists foreign movies and gives their Japanese titles? He says it is especially difficult with independent movies or older movies.

If any reader knows of a resource, do let us know.

Health check

Chris Black is asking how he sources what he calls a "genuine English-speaking doctor" who accepts Japanese Hokensho/insurance, preferably in Tokyo's Toranomon or Meguro Station areas. I suggest Chris takes a look at the Japan Health HandBook, by Meredith Enman Maruyama, Louise Picon Shimizu and Nancy Smith Tsurumaki, published by Kodansha, and last updated in 1998.

One reviewer quite rightly describes it as "the health bible of the foreign community." Under the heading "Resources for finding a caregiver" on page 27, he will see that the AMDA International Information centers have extensive lists of doctors nationwide. Phone 03-5285-8088, Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., in English, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Farsi and Tagalog. Hope this helps.

Stop the war

Finally, Salim (from somewhere in Japan) writes as a Muslim and a religious teacher who finds little difference between three holy books; the Christian Bible, Jewish Torah (Pentateuch), and Islamic Qur'an (Koran). This being so, why, he wonders, do people have such different ideas concerning the contents? Indeed.

Just look where the differences are leading us: into a possible Third World War.

On this subject, readers may like to know that Stop the War Coalition's worldwide day of action against attacking Iraq is planned for Saturday next (also Feb. 22).

On Feb. 15, Action in Tokyo will gather in Miyashita Park from 6:30 p.m. (Take the east exit from Shibuya Station and walk along Meiji Street towards Harajuku. The park is left of the Tokyu Inn Hotel, along the Yamanote line).

The march will move off around Shibuya at 7:15; there will be a concert afterwards. Check www.stopthewar.jp for further details, and venues in other cities.

British residents, for example, can click onto the English-language Web site www.office.stopwar.org.uk.

Should you wish to walk in solidarity with American and British protesters here on Saturday, look for the banner: U.S.-U.K. Coalition for Peace against the U.S.-U.K. Coalition for War.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers, to: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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