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Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2005


Staying mobile and Book-Off

Used CDs

John Mackin says the Book-Off store near his home in Kawasaki not only buys and sells books, it also buys and sells CDs, DVDs, WalkMans, iPods, TVs, PCs, clothes, women's handbags -- you name it.

"The rest of the Book-Off chain will deal with at least books, CDs, DVDs, and videos. There are 111 shops in the Tokyo area."

If you can work in Japanese, he adds helpfully, the following site will show the Book-Off shop nearest you: www.bookoff.co.jp/search/index.html

Time out

Jim in Nara has a 23-year-old Seiko Silver Wave electronic wrist watch that badly needs repair, but the Seiko service center has told him that the necessary IC chip is no longer available.

"This watch is of great sentimental value to me," he continues, "so I am seeking an independent repair facility that might possibly have a replacement IC chip for my beloved old watch."

Any ideas?

4-wheel runaround?

Fred, who lives in Hamura, Tokyo, is restricted to his home and had read somewhere about something called a cart, a four-wheeled, battery-powered vehicle. "I'd like to know where I could buy one," he says.

Fred may have lost his freedom -- temporarily at least -- but he has not lost his sense of humor. He enclosed a cutting of a vintage car with his note, captioned "an older model." He adds for good measure that he arrived in Japan in 1946 when his monthly pay was 1,650 yen.

Fred might like to checkout the "Friendly Eco," a wonderful vehicle made by a small company in Toyama Prefecture. He can call (076) 429-2381, fax (076) 429-2910, e-mail info@takeoka-m.co.jp or write to Takeoka Jidosha Koge at Anyogi, 504-1, Toyama-shi, Toyama-ken 939-8177.

If Fred is on the Internet, he can see what FE looks like on the company's Web site at takeoka-m.co.jp

This is in Japanese only, but after near 60 years here Fred can surely manage.

Friendly Eco is a four-wheel vehicle measuring 2.03-meters-long by 1.2-meters-wide by 1.95 meters high, that is designed to carry a wheelchair and entered from the back. Driving is hand-operated.

The vehicle is powered by a battery that can be charged at home. It will travel 50 km on a single charge, which costs around 25 yen. Top speed is 55 km per hour.

Also, the usual procedure of having to report the purchase of a car to the police as to where it will be parked, does not apply. The FE takes up so little space it can be parked just about anywhere.

Finally, the company makes a wheelchair, specially designed to fit the FE, and also a winch. But these are optional; any wheelchair will fit.


Ward Geddes notes that a previous column failed to mention that "tenugui" are the original Japanese bath towel.

"When I first lived in Japan in 1963 you rarely saw western-style towels. The family I stayed with used tenugui for the bath; they were also supplied at "ryokan" and "kokuminshukusha." They were used both for soaping up before the bath and drying afterwards."

Last word

Michael Claxton in Goteberg has the final word. "Did I miss earlier correspondence about Viking? Vikings equal Scandinavians equal famous for smorgasbord, i.e. a large assortment of hors d'oeuvre on a long table.

"Now which do your readers think is the easier to say for your average Japanese -- or anyone for that matter -- Viking or smorgasbord?"

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

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