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Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Food tips, bad bikers and buffets

Food for thought

On the subject of foreign food in Japan, Mike writes in to recommend the Flying Pig ( www.theflyingpig.com ).

This service will buy for customers at Costco and ship anywhere in Japan using takyubin. The prices are pretty reasonable too.

Faith says there's a good store in Saitama area -- a shop called Yamaya -- where you can buy both Japanese and overseas snacks and alcohol.

It's particularly good for Aussie delicacies. Also, Sony Plaza in Ueno Station can sometimes put in overseas food orders for people.

Gordon admits he's not a big fan of "supersize me" outlets like Costco.

"The darn huge containers block up the fridge until the last drop's gone and the sauces take 4-6 months to finish -- I mean how long would it take even the most ardent ketchup fan to go through half a gallon of ketchup?" he asks.

He does, however, have some advice -- albeit secondhand -- on the 4,200 yen annual fee.

If you have a business card, he's heard, there's a "business member" plan that's about 1,000 yen cheaper. Also, if you take a colleague, you may be able to bring the annual fee down to around 2,400 yen.

Before you go to the store, though, you must have some ID. Once there, the staff at Costco take your picture and make up your card on the spot.

Family "memberships" also are apparently free and there is a rumor doing the rounds that Costco membership issued in Japan is valid in other countries.

Noise pollution

In reply to Don's article on noise pollution last month in the Japan Times, P., a concerned resident of Momochihama, in Fukuoka, writes in to say that he is having an awful time with the bosozoku.

"They visit every night to disturb the sleep of thousands of hard working people who unfortunately reside in this area. I rarely see any police here in the day or night and am not sure that they even exist around these parts.

"This disturbance has apparently gone on for generations without being stopped. In England, Australia and New Zealand, and, I am sure, all other industrialized countries, they have laws pertaining to 'disturbing the peace.' Any person that disturbs the peace between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. will be arrested and fined.

"If they persist then the fines double and their vehicles are confiscated and the costs of bringing the vehicles to a legal noise emission standard is on the owners. It soon becomes too expensive to continue unacceptable behavior and the problem stops.

"Any person breaking a law who is injured or causes injury while doing so is totally liable for those injuries or damage to others' property. This protects officers trying to stop dangerous tactics used by those escaping the law which can seriously endanger innocent citizens' lives.

"It's a simple law and a quick and easy solution to a problem police cannot seem to control here. The self-defense force could assist police in implementing these changes and enforcing the law. It would be good crowd-control practice for them, and also a good community relations exercise.

"I do hope that the police can do their job and stop such unacceptable behavior from a few that interferes with hundreds of thousands of hard-working citizens. If they cannot do their job to serve and protect the citizens, then how can they stand in line to receive their pay every month?"

More Vikings

Japan veteran Bob believes he has the answer to the question on the origin of the word "Viking" to denote an all-you can-eat buffet.

When he first came to Japan in 1959, the "Imperial Hotel Annex" (a new structure behind the old Imperial Hotel) had a restaurant called "Viking." The restaurant had a large table for presenting a wide assortment of food in a buffet style, which proved to be extremely popular with visitors and spread from there to the rest of Japan.

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