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Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007


Starting climbing, stopping scratching

Social climbing

Rod is seeking rock to scale:

"We have just moved to Hiroo (in Tokyo) from New York and while they are still on school holidays I want my children to have the experience of rock climbing in a safe environment before going into nature. I know it's a long shot in the heart of the city, but then Tokyo does appear to be an astonishing place."

Indeed it is, and here are two venues specifically designed for wannabe rock climbers:

* The Japanese outdoor goods retailer Mont Bell, across the road from Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, has a cement wall replicating a rock face just inside the main entrance, together with ropes, safety gear and guidance. Go take a look and ask the assistants for help; many speak English.

By the way, this branch of Mont Bell (there is another close by in Ebisu, for example) is the home of the International Adventure Club — www.iac-tokyo.org/ — which holds monthly meetings and organizes expeditions in a variety of outdoor sports. With 350 members of all nationalities, well worth checking out when you feel ready to face nature in the raw.

* Not so far away in Omotesando is another rock face for fun clambering or, since it was designed with the advice of professionals, more serious practice. The Illoiha Fitness Club — www.illoiha.com — has the funkiest rock-climbing wall imaginable, with picture frames and vases, a deer head and a bird cage for getting a grip. The club site is in Japanese. Call (03) 5786-1618 or fax (03) 5786-1620.

Scratch, scratch

Clare asks about the best, safest product to use on a dog with fleas.

"Also for disinfecting inside the house?"

I asked Sascha Hewitt of Natural Healing Centre, who has left Japan for her native Perth, Australia, because, she says, "I can obtain a better range of products there."

Here is her reply:

"I don't know how well it works because I don't have a dog but I just got in some Neem Oil Soap. I will get it up on the Web site in the next couple of days.

"Here is what the packet says: 'The village pharmacy. This soap is especially formulated to disenchant fleas, ticks and other pests that may irritate your pets. Neem oil has a long tradition in animal care and is often used on sacred cows of India. The (Neem) tree is extremely hardy and impervious to most pests. In India it is known as the village pharmacy.' "

She says that Valerie Ann Worwood's book "The Fragrant Pharmacy" suggests applying neat lavender oil to flea bites on humans. She knows this certainly works a treat on mosquito bites.

"Also lavender, lemongrass and citronella are supposed to repel fleas so Clare could try using this in the house. Couple of drops for wiping down bench tops, few drops on the vacuum cleaner bag, few drops in the wash (but only if you are using natural washing powder), etc., etc."

Neem oil soap sells for 4.95 Australian dollars ($4) on her site — naturalhealing.center.com/ — and is available by mail order.

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