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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

LIFELINES

Cleaning, bikes and a miracle


Cheap bike

Caroline needs a bike but doesn't want to spend a lot. "I heard I can buy, very cheaply, bikes that have been left at inconvenient places, such as train stations, towed away and not retrieved by their owners after a year. Can you give me more details about where such depots might be?"

She remembers years ago when living in Segenjaya that she had to go somewhere on the Den-entoshi Line to get a bike back, but can't remember exactly where.

Your best bet, Caroline, is to go through your local city office. It is usually their staff that are responsible for collecting bikes left in places where parking is prohibited. Your local "koban" (police box) will also know where the nearest depot is.

If your Japanese is none too hot, ask a friend to help. Or you could buy a cheap shopping bike made in China from a local supermarket. They usually cost less than 10,000. Muji also has well-designed, basic bikes at good prices.

Cleaning services

Maria has information for Louise in Saitama about finding cleaners for her house.

"A friend of mine started a domestic services company a while ago. I don't know if he offers his service in Saitama, but he is definitely worth checking out. Since it's a very small company, he can guarantee personal touch and quality. And the service is bilingual."

For details, check out www.maestroservice.co.jp (contact Shunjiro Nagase for details -- he speaks fluent English). Maestro Service Corporation is at 9-1-8 Seijo, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo (Phone: 03-3483-2714).

The current English site says full information will be available from July 25.

Silver Jinzai

Many thanks to John for the lowdown on "Silver Centers."

"They are called 'Silver Jinzai Centers,' 'jinzai' meaning human resources. They enroll older people as members, and match them up with job openings sent in by individuals or organizations."

To locate the nearest center, go to www.zsjc.or.jp/center/5_2.html and pick out your prefecture on the map. That will bring up a list of centers by location and, at least in the case of Saitama, the prefectural-wide organization as well.

Everything is in Japanese, John continues. "One can submit jobs through the Internet but it might be better to call the center on the telephone (no doubt in Japanese)."

Seeking a miracle

R. asks whether we might be able to help fulfill her father's dream to find an old friend.

"I was in 6th grade in 1952 when Charley-san first visited our home in Yokosuka's Ootaki-cho. He was called 'Charley' by everyone. In his late 20s, I believe he was from Boston or somewhere around there." Charley had come to Japan as an American sailor during the Korean War. "When he had time off he would come over with his friends to see us. He always brought chocolate and candies for me, and shaving cream and other necessities for my parents. My maiden name was Ueda."

After the war ended in 1953, he was sent home. However, he reappeared in the fall of 1954 in the family's new home in Oppama-cho.

"He said he'd come to say goodbye because he knew that once he was retired from the military he would never be able to come to Japan again."

Charley taught R. how to collect stamps and she still has the book he bought her. She also has a couple of photos, one of which Charley gave her father.

"He is standing by a car, with a rifle, and wearing a Stetson. He was a quiet shy man, I remember, with a mustache."

R. has no surname and no address for Charley. She knows this is a long shot, but, as she asks, "miracles can happen, can't they?"

Can anyone out there help?

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


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