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Tuesday, June 10, 2003


Finding acting work, reducing phone bills and ditching old stuff

Freighter travel

Judi Sullivan's daughter, who lives in Japan, sent her a Lifelines column with an enquiry from reader Lisa Beretta, who wanted info on cargo ships willing to take a passenger to Europe.

"I am a journalist/travel writer specializing in freighter ships," writes Judi. "I have lots of contacts and information to answer all her questions and can put her in touch with the people who can book her on a vessel."

Judi says she will be glad to help Lisa, or anyone else interested in this topic. Contact her at freightermouse@yahoo.com

Finding acting work

Daniel has a question about getting acting work in Tokyo. "I see lots of foreigners in commercials and on TV here in Japan. I can't speak Japanese very well, but was wondering how to get some information on such kind of work."

I'm as mystified as you are as to how some of these people get work. Often it is via modelling, or knowing someone who effects an introduction -- "You're looking for a foreigner who is prepared to do anything, follow orders to the letter, and not be ashamed of making a complete fool of him/herself? Right, I know the perfect wannabe tarento (talent)."

There are agencies for work like dubbing, narrations and voiceovers, but work is pretty thin on the ground right now due to the sluggish economy.

Check out the following Web site for some basic information: www.artscmodels.com/

ISP/IP phones

Yogesh Ramani is wondering if there is a site in English that compares all the ADSL provider's rates and cost.

"Recently, four companies started making IP phones available. I want to compare them and see which offers the best deal. Since most ADSL providers' sites are in Japanese, I don't know how to make comparisons."

Well Yogesh, there is a lot of information online but no clearly laid out comparative table as far as I know. One problem is that services are changing so fast. For starters, check out the DSL and Cable Resource Guide ( www.aspergantis.com/adsl ).

Double dose of help

Linda Croissant (?) has two questions: First she wants to know how and where she can get rid of stuff she doesn't want? "Are there any equivalents of the English charity shops in Japan?"

Well no, not really. Apart from the Salvation Army and church bazaars which we have talked about before. There are, however, what are called Recycle Shops. Some accept everything; other are more choosey.

Some will pay on the spot, or try to get the price you want in lieu of a percentage; others act as if they are doing you a favor by taking things off your hands for free. A more recent trend is to turn unwanted goods away. Having you thought about selling or giving away items via community noticeboards in supermarkets, libraries and city offices? Or listings magazines -- Metropolis (free ads: classified@metropolis.co.jp; commercial ads: commercial@metropolis.co.jp), Tokyo Notice Board and others in the capital; Kansai Time Out for Osaka and Kyoto? Next Linda wants to know if she needs a license to sell food she has made at a fair or event, and if so how does she go about applying for one.

If you are just making some fairy cakes for your church fair or kids' school bazaar, no problem. In such a situation, the organization will be covered for such events.

If you are making food to sell commercially, as a business, then you have to declare this income to the tax office before the end of the fiscal year on March 31st. And have the relevant license.

There are many types of licenses, depending on the size of the operation -- bakery, cafe, restaurant, meals on wheels ("yatai"), etc. Take a Japanese-speaking friend to your local City Office and ask for the relevant forms.

When you have filled these in and submitted them, you will be called before a judge. If the application is approved, then you have to go through all the relevant checks, health and hygiene, suitability of premises, etc.

Kids' stuff

Ida Brecka in the U.S. asks, "Would you please translate the word 'children' into the Japanese language? This is for my granddaughter's school project."

First, it is important to realize that Japanese has no singular or plural as understood in the English language. Therefore, the word "kodomo" is used both for child, or children. There is also the phrase "kodomo-tachi," which is never used for a single child, and most definitely means more than one.

Custom shoji

Carol and Bill Brandt have fallen in love with the traditional shoji (paper) screens covering windows in their rental apartment in Tokyo.

"We like them so much we are thinking of having a shoji screen window treatment made for our home in the States. Can you suggest any shops in the Tokyo area where we could have them made to order?"

This is not as simple as it sounds as your windows will need inbuilt runners so the screens slide smoothly to and fro. But if this is not much of a problem and if you know the exact sizes of windows to be fitted, talk to Toyota Tateguten in Asakusa (03-3872 6544).

You will need a Japanese friend to call for you, as no-one speaks English, but they've promised to do their best to help you.

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

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