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Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006

LIFELINES

Yasukuni, rail passes and records


That shrine again

Jane says Tokyo's famed (or should that be infamous) Yasukuni Shrine has a flea market on the second and third Sunday every month.

"Use exit 1 out of Kudanshita subway station on the Tozai Line."

Jane also recommends the Daimaru secondhand and pawn shop.

It's in the Dogenzaka section of Tokyo, at 19-17 Maruyama-cho, Shibuya Ward, phone 03-3462-0781.

"Open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., this maze of tiny rooms is apparently cram-packed with furniture, antiques, electronics, all manner of stuff. Check it out!"

Rail Pass worth it?

Pam and Jacob are coming to Japan for a week, and want to know whether it's worth them each buying a 7-day Japan Rail Pass.

"An adult pass for reserved seats including shinkansen costs the equivalent of 28,300 yen. Is this good value?"

Really it depends what Pam and Jacob intend to do.

If they exchange the vouchers purchased in London at Narita International Airport, they can use it to travel to their base in Shonan (and back at the end of their stay).

Traveling by the Narita Express, these two trips alone would use up over 8,000 yen. But if in addition they plan only to make one trip into Tokyo, plus another into Yokohama, with a day trip to Hakone, this would make the ticket uneconomic.

If they go to Kyoto, then it would be worthwhile. And if they decide to spend the whole week running around Japan, then most definitely.

Note that the pass is only valid for the two slower shinkansen bullet train services, not the "Nozomi."

Also note that the Japan Rail Pass is available only for foreign nationals visiting Japan for sightseeing.

Those thinking of a visit to Japan might like to check this site: www.seejapan.co.uk/transport/rail/jrpass.html

Going native

Liz writes: "I have been in Japan over a decade, married to a Japanese national and with a child.

"Last week I went to immigration in Yokohama to extend my three-year visa, and I was invited to apply for permanent residency. Remembering how rude and unhelpful officials used to be in the bad old days, I was amazed."

It seems the official -- a very nice older woman -- told her that Japan was encouraging people like her to change their status, to save everyone time and money.

Liz was even further astonished when a man sat down and explained the procedures and documentation required.

What Liz wants to know is -- she's always had a mental block about permanent residency, fearing somehow it would affect her psychologically to make a commitment to Japan rather than her home country of Australia -- whether there are any downsides to being a PR.

"I know the positive aspects, but wonder if readers have experienced any problems related to their change in status."

Over to you.

Records to sell

Tim recently moved to Shimokitazawa on Tokyo's Inokashira Line, and has records to dispose of.

"Any idea where I might be able to sell them?"

For really good stuff, try auctioning albums on eBay -- the Japanese eBay if you can hack it, as there is no one more fanatical than the average Japanese collector.

Or take a short walk from Shimokitazawa Station to the secondhand music store Yellow Pop (03-2460 1013, open from midday to 10 p.m.) Yellow Pop buys (and sells) rock, jazz, J-pop, house, hip-hop -- the full range of popular music. (They deal in CDs and DVDs too.)

Yellow Pop also has stores in Shibuya (03-3476 3276, open midday to 10 p.m.) and Kawaguchi in Saitama Prefecture (048-222 0221, open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Web site (in Japanese): www.yellowpop.jp

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


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