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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

LIFELINES

Bug-killers, jet lag and rent down payments


By ANGELA JEFFS and KEN JOSEPHS, JR.

Tackling jet lag

Newly arrived in Tokyo, Neil is going to have to fly often in his new job, and wonders how best to handle jet lag. He knows about cutting down on food and alcohol, drinking a lot of water and exercising, but wonders if there is any magic trick.

I have no idea how this works, but I swear by the homeopathic medication No Jet Lag, which promises to relieve the tiredness and jet lag associated with long-haul flights.

Each pack contains 32 tablets, sufficient for 50 hours of flying time. An adult chews one on takeoff, then another every two hours, and one after landing. There is also a recommended dosage for children.

Made in New Zealand, No Jet Lag is hard to find here, so my daughter sends me supplies from Canada. Easiest maybe to buy online? See www.nojetlag.com for more information. (A.J.)

Coming up roses

Celia is doing her bit for a greener Tokyo by growing a rambling rose on her balcony, but it's not doing too well.

"I don't know where they've come from, but it's covered with tiny greenish-white bugs. Any idea how I can get rid of them without polluting the air any more than it is already?"

This is an easy one. Forget commercial products, however green they claim to be. A simple mix of fresh water and soap — not detergent, pure soap — will do the trick. Find a cheap spray in the gardening section of any ¥100 shop, and you'll have bloomin' lovely bug-free roses in no time at all. (A.J.)

More on Michi

Regarding the U.S. family member of singer Michi Aoyama trying to locate her half sister, a reader writes from Yokohama.

"The name rang a bell, which I was able to confirm via the Japanese Wikipedia site," writes Stephen. "Formerly with Crown Records, the singer was drummed out of the entertainment world in the mid-70s after a couple of scandals involving arrests for use of stimulants and for shoplifting."

Stephen continues: "She was featured on the show 'Where Are They Now?' (which ran from 1996 to 2001). Sadly I don't know the date of the program, during which it was revealed that she was living on welfare with her two daughters. She apparently sang on the show, for the first time in years."

Michi's birth name is Fusako Yagi, and she was originally from Yokohama, so maybe she is living somewhere in Kanagawa Prefecture. The brief Wikipedia article (in Japanese) can be found at tinyurl.com/dcev75. (A.J.)

Dodging down payments

C.J. is having a terrible time renting an apartment because everybody wants four to six months' payment in advance.

"Are there no agents who rent apartments without expecting a down payment?" she asks.

This is a tough one! There is tradition and there is the market. Normally in Japan you put down four to six months' rent for the key money, real estate fee, etc., etc. At the same time there is a market, and when places are just not finding takers, then all kinds of things can happen.

These days, with the economy in recession, there are a number of real estate offices that in some cases will drop all down payments completely. Yes, that's how desperate they are to let.

First, decide the area where you want to live and visit its nearest real estate office. Local real estate offices usually have the best deals as they deal directly with owners in the neighborhood, especially relating to privately owned apartments, which are the easiest to deal with.

Next, take along a Japanese friend and tell them you want to move in with no or little down payment. It's quite possible that as things stand you will probably be able to negotiate something.

As with all real estate, it is "location, location, location," with a choice of traditional apartments, guesthouses and furnished apartments all running on different systems.

Furnished apartments are rented on a monthly basis and resemble something between a hotel and an apartment.

If you rent a guesthouse room, it is likely that you will have to share dining, kitchen and bathroom facilities with other tenants, although many offer private facilities as well.

Knowing how long you plan to stay will help you make this decision. If you intend to stay for more than a couple of years, you are probably better off getting a regular apartment. A good place to start is Morris International at (03) 3440-4990 or morrisinternational@gmail.com. Or for Tokyo, try www.cheaphousingtokyo.com (which, while cheap by executive expat standards, is still expensive for the majority of newcomers to Japan).

Readers, please let us know how you managed to find a good, cheap place, and we can pass on the information. (K.J./A.J.)

Angela Jeffs is a freelance writer and writing guide (www.thewriterwithin.net/). Ken Joseph Jr. directs the Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com and (03) 000-911. Send questions, queries, problems and posers to community@japantimes.co.jp


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