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Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Temples, air cons and food

To begin, some responses to earlier columns:

Getting around

On the best way for getting around Tokyo, Doug in Wellington, New Zealand, has news of another good web site for information on traveling to-and-from Narita, and Tokyo public transport in general. "Run by Keith Wilkinson," he says, it's at narita.ispjapan.org

Temple stays

On temples in or around Tokyo that welcome people to stay, Yukari is good friends with the owners of Komadori on the western side of Tokyo. "I stayed overnight, and have since returned twice more."

Yukari, who found the temple in a book called "Otera de tomaro," says to change trains in Tachikawa and head to Ome. From here you take another train, then a bus and finally a cable car to the top of the mountain.

"I went to clear my mind and relax, and got exactly what I was looking for," she says.

The Web site in English is at www.hkr.ne.jp/~komadori/komadori.html and in Japanese at www.hkr.ne.jp/~komadori/index.html

Permanent residency

On the pros and cons of taking permanent residency, Gene writes: "I've been a permanent resident for about six years. While the benefits are not many or great -- you still have to buy a re-entry permit, for example -- I can't think of a single disadvantage or downside."

Silver jinsai

On the subject of silver jinsai centers for getting help with household chores like gardening, Karen asks if there is one in Saitama Prefecture.

"When I asked at my ward office, they told me they only had a silver service, which provides care for the elderly, totally different from what I wanted."

The utilization and organization of such skills very much depends on the prefecture. In Kanagawa, for example, it's easy to hook up. Sounds like Saitama may not have caught onto the idea yet.

Dirty air con

A reader has been working for a large English school chain for six years. "Two years ago we relocated to a new office, and in that time never once have the air conditioning units been cleaned. Colleagues have been complaining of headaches, dry eyes, even respiratory problems."

A. asked his/her Japanese manager to consider getting them cleaned by a professional, but was told "We can't do that. Please vacuum them in your free time."

A. is insulted. "This kind of thing is not in an instructor's contract, believe me." So he/she is left wondering if there are any specific regulations regarding the cleanliness of air conditioners in office buildings in Japan or general health regulations.

I'm sure there are regulations, but administering them is another matter. If I were you, I would come down off your high horse and get out the vacuum cleaner. It may not be in your contract but if you're seriously worried about the health of your colleagues, why wait.

Veggie cooking classes

Jack Bayles of the Alishan Organic Center in Saitama Prefecture wonders if readers looking for Japanese-English vegetarian cooking classes.

"At the riverside Alishan Organic Center, Chef Drew will lead you through making (and eating) a range of dishes like nut pate, grilled flatbread, barley risotto, gazpacho, lemon cake with fruit compote, sorbet and more."

Hands-on classes take place on Tuesday, May 9, and Sunday, May 14. There's a demonstration and tasting on Wednesdays May 10 and 17.

For more information, call (042) 982-4811; fax (042) 982-4813, e-mail info@alishan.jp or see the Web site at www.alishan-organic-center.com

"Also," he says, "we have a big food festival/carnival coming up over the last weekend of May. Check it out."

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

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