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Tuesday, June 7, 2005


Massage, reading kanji and ATMs

Hands on

D is a U.S. trained massage therapist with a spousal visa, currently living in Hiroshima.

"I am curious about what I need to do to work legally as a massage therapist either at people's homes or offices or in a clinic setting."

Japan doesn't regulate the massage industry as it does in the States. You maybe asked for your certificates of training, etc., but basically you can do what you want.

The exception is acupuncture, which requires a license.


Brian Mc C., currently studying Japanese at university in London, raises an interesting point.

"I previously spent some time studying Japanese by myself. I also spent 6 months last year teaching English in China.

"At that time, I was interested to note a world map with the Chinese names for all the countries and cities. Needless to say, I could easily recognize the kanji for Tokyo, Kyoto and Hokkaido.

"I was informed that the Chinese render these names as Dongjing, Jingdu and Beihaidao; in other words according to the Chinese readings of the kanji.

"I therefore became curious about the Japanese rendering of Chinese names.

"I was already aware that the Japanese refer to the Chinese capital as Pekin, virtually identical to the pronunciation used for many years in English of Peking.

"It has become standard in recent years in English to refer to the Chinese capital as Beijing, which matches the name in Chinese.

"It is my theory that the previous pronunciation was a mistake caused by the system of transliteration of Chinese. The letter 'q' has been used to transcribe a speech sound similar to 'j' or 'ch.'

"Most Westerners, ignorant of this system, would probably have read this with a hard 'k' sound.

"I was surprised to find that this same apparent mistake existed in Japanese, and even more so that the Japanese employ the kanji for Beijing and read it as Pekin, rather than Hokkyou.

"I then went on to discover that the kanji for Shanghai is read as Shanhai, rather than Joukai and the kanji for Hong Kong is read as Honkon, rather than Kyoukou.

"It appears to me that the Japanese pronunciation of these names has come from Westerners. Otherwise, the names would more closely resemble Chinese pronunciation, such as Beijin and Shangan. I am fascinated to know how and why this came about.

"Surely the Japanese had knowledge of these places before Westerners arrived.

"Also, as use of kanji for these names is standard, is it possible that there previously existed an alternative pronunciation? Any enlightenment would be most gratefully received."

Credit cards

The first of more responses on the subject comes from Frank in Kumamoto.

"With regard to using foreign bank cards in Japan, I have discovered that Post Office Cash Points accept them. I have a bank card from Canada (where I am originally from) and from England (where I lived before coming to Japan) and I have never had any problem using these cards at the post office."

Failing that, he adds, "CitiBank usually accepts foreign bank cards."

Reader MM backs this up: "By far the best way of getting money in Japan is at Post Office ATMs.

"My Australian MasterCard worked fine, it's cheaper than getting money converted at the bank, the ATMs work in English, and they are open on Saturdays.

"Also Citibank ATMs will take Australian (as well as American) cards."

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