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Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2005

LIFELINES

Bus hire, good food guides and more ISPs


The mailbox is choc-o-bloc with post New Year queries at the moment, so please be patient. We're answering them as fast as we can.

Charter bus service

Jeremy is a graduate of a University program in the U.S. that was once linked with a Japanese university. In the past that university made hotel and charter bus reservations for the program. Now the situation has changed.

"We have hotel reservations at this point, but with a large group of students,would like to have a charter service for picking us up at Narita upon arrival, visiting a factory on an afternoon and return to Narita for departure."

Jeremy asks for names of companies to contact to make charter bus reservations in Tokyo.

The capital's Tourist Information Centre on (03) 3201-3331 made the following three recommendations.

However, neither Tokyo Jumbo Hire on (03) 3896-0818 and Hinomaru Limousines on (03) 3212-0505 proved to be English-speaking. If Jeremy's students are Japanese language students, good practice opportunities presents themselves here.

My best bet would be Showa Jidosha on (03) 3886-4134 and based in Adachi Ward. Egami-san, who answered the phone, was exceptionally friendly, and in English too.

If Jeremy's party is large, hiring a number of vans could get very pricey. In which case, he would be happy to personally introduce a reputable coach hire company.

He can be contacted by fax on (03) 3886-4182.

Wanna eat?

RZ wants to know the best three food guides for Tokyo.

Who better to ask than Robbie Swinnerton, who writes on restaurants and food for this paper. He says there are no restaurant guide books in English that he rates: "All there is that's current is the Zagat guide, but personally I don't find it useful."

Why such a dearth of books, when you might assume there to be hundreds out there? The rapid turnover of eating places in this fickle city.

Robbie says the Tokyo Q guide (last updated in 2001) has plenty of proper thumbnail reviews from a personal perspective -- although it has plenty more about the city than just restaurants. It's still on sale in some places and from Amazon.

Online the situation is much better. Three places to trawl for info are:

* The Tokyo Food File (Robbie's own). The last three columns published bi-weekly are at: www.japantimes.co.jp/life.htm#gourmet

For a full search of previous articles, scan through the archive.

* Food Page -- an excellent resource with much more than just restaurant listings: bento.com/tf-rest.html or bento.com/tokyofood.html

* Finally, e-gullet, a bulletin board devoted to discussions on food in Japan/Tokyo. Look it up at forums.egullet.org/index.php?showforum="19"

Asahi Net

Everyone has their favorite ISP, it seems. Phil says one of the best in Japan, in terms of both reliability of service and English-language support is Asahi Net ( www.asahi-net.or.jp/en ).

"From what I hear from users of YahooBB and GOL, Asahi Net's service is more reliable than either of those two, and its English-language support is excellent: English Web pages and support by native-English personnel by phone, fax, or e-mail."

Money saving

Do you know the worst thing about computers, writes Erick. "It is the fact that anytime you buy something for your PC you waste big amounts of money! Try this damn good stuff," he advises, and compare with other sites' prices: imrjxlw.ljmflnjl.info/?FobKbq9GJJMUWZFfkjRZefd

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


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