Category Archives: Japan: Life

Everyday life in Japan

Happy Families in Japan – did you think about pre-marital counseling?

Marriage Counseling in Japan
Is pre-marital counseling for you?

Apparently 1 in 20 of Japanese weddings last year included at least one foreigner. As a recent addition to this growing group, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what it means to be married to a Japanese person (国際結婚, kokusai kekkon) for me – a very stippy gaijin. Having a good time while chatting with Japanese friends is one thing, but living together 24-7 with someone who has grown up with a totally different set of morals, expectations and traditions is a pretty eye opening experience. It is easy to forget but, interestingly, all of my friends at home remind me that it is even pretty hard doing this back home where everyone speaks the same language! After a bunch of long phone calls with friends back home, my wife and I decided to try out pre-marital counseling Continue reading Happy Families in Japan – did you think about pre-marital counseling?

What Should I Do? More on AIDS in Japan

Some will remember the grim reaper aids campaigns of the ’80s
Remember the Grim Reaper AIDS campaigns of the ’80s?

Late last year Pink shared with us the eye-opening story of his friend who found out that he had been dating a girl infected with HIV, and the story of his soul search while he waited for his own test results. After reading the number of responses in the comment section to the article, I decided to do a little more work into the state of AIDS and other STDs in Japan.

While most newspaper articles generally do their best to exaggerate the statistics with statements like “AIDS cases in Japan double in the last decade”, the reality is that official AIDS (and HIV) statistics don’t appear that high although part of the reason might be due to the lack of drug use (and syringe sharing) in Japan. I guess it depends Continue reading What Should I Do? More on AIDS in Japan

Watching the Grass Grow – Tokyo Style

Grass - Hibiya Park, TokyoGrass. Simple green grass under my bare feet is something I really enjoy in the summer. In the park with the kids I have the occasional old person come up and say how healthy it is for the kids to be playing in bare feet, yet mine seem to be the only kids around who have discarded their shoes. The younger parents seem to be more wary about the ill effects of dirt and grass stains on the soul. But where, you may ask, is the grass within the Yamanote line to be found? Grass patches spacious enough to walk on? Continue reading Watching the Grass Grow – Tokyo Style

Bad Bad Medicine: Doctors in Japan

Japanese Doctors - A Class of their ownWe have explored on stippy how interesting it can be to call an ambulance in Japan, but have you ever had one of those crazy “only in Japan” experiences at the hospital?

Just the week before last I was hit with a mysterious sort of virus that had gone through our office. I battled through a few tough days at work and only on Saturday when the headache was so bad that my eyeballs hurt to move them, did I head to the doctor. My wife recommended a doctor very near our house as they have a naika (内科, the closest thing to a GP, which don’t really exist in Japan, because patients have to refer themselves to a specialist) unit that seemed appropriate. So off I went thinking the hurting eyes may have been related to my wicked Continue reading Bad Bad Medicine: Doctors in Japan

Getting HIV in Japan – A True Story

Dancing jgirlsA friend of mine living here in Japan wrote this to me yesterday. Read it right to the end. It will chill you to the bone. You won’t be disappointed, and may even rethink a few things in your own life, or maybe make a different New Year’s resolution than the one you had in mind.


Well it’s coming up on another year here in Japan; hard to believe seven or eight years have gone by already. 2006 was a great year as was 1999-2005 here in Tokyo. I’ve got a great life here. Great friends, great job, great fiancée (oh yeah I got engaged to Kyoko last month in Italy) and low-stress which is key to having a great life! Tokyo continues to be a fabulous city. Continue reading Getting HIV in Japan – A True Story

The Suburban Building Boom in Musashi Kosugi

kosugi-7b.jpgMuch has been said about the recent turn around in land prices in Japan over the last couple of years. Since the burst of the bubble land prices have been going down for 15 years but recently there has been an upswing in values in the major cities of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka although values in other regions continue to fall. In Tokyo much of the focus has been on major redevelopments of central city areas amidst a general trend towards central city living. Shiodome is one such area, and the over-hyped and under-berated Roppongi Hills complex another. However, outside of the central city areas one suburb in particular is going through some dramatic changes. Continue reading The Suburban Building Boom in Musashi Kosugi

‘Til Pension Do Us Part – Divorce in Japan set to Skyrocket

sleep.gifThe image of Japanese salarymen working until late, drinking with colleagues, and then not wanting to go home to their unhappy marriages is a common one in Japan. Yet Japan is also well-known for its low divorce rates.. well, at least up until now that is..!

Blokes be aware – times are changing and those miserable Japanese housewives who have been slaving away in the kitchen for decades for their ungrateful husbands are about to get their long-awaited revenge and the divorce rate is set to sky-rocket from April next year!

A Split Pension Payment law (厚生年金の分割制度) has somehow passed its way through the unhappily-married-male-dominated Japanese Government Continue reading ‘Til Pension Do Us Part – Divorce in Japan set to Skyrocket

Calling an Ambulance in Japan

It felt fast but a scooter overtook usJust this past long weekend, I had the misfortune of having to call an ambulance in Japan for my girlfriend, who began writhing in pain and clutching her abdomen – all the while letting rip some of the most blood-curdling screams I had ever heard. After 2 minutes of this I made the decision to phone an ambulance for the first time since coming to Japan – Anyway, I got the number wrong

After ringing 110, the policewoman answering kindly told me to hang up and dial the number for the ambulance and fire service. Slightly panicked, I hung up without Continue reading Calling an Ambulance in Japan

What’s Hot in Japanese Toilets?

“Your Mission: Extinguish a fire!”, says the sticker above the urinal. It is the latest in an arsenal of stealth weapons gaining popularity in Japan amongst toilet cleaner circles. Japanese Toilet Mission - Put out the fire! These Toilet Target Marker Stickers, play on a known male psychology by changing colour with the heat, as they are doused in urine. They are showing up in urinals around the country as their makers claim they keep toilets 76% cleaner. Continue reading What’s Hot in Japanese Toilets?

Getting a National Pension Payment Rebate When Leaving Japan as a “Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment”

The Mighty YenThe Japanese Government has a system where foreigners leaving Japan, who have been paying into the pension system, can receive back a portion of these payments. This is known as a “National Pension Payment Rebate”, or a “Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment”. After all those hard years slugging it out working in the far east, you deserve to get back as much of that money as you possible can (it’s not like you are going to retire here right?). We have provided a “Dummies Guide” to getting as many of those hard earned yen that you have paid into this country’s convoluted pension scheme put back into your pocket where they belong, this is a must read for all foreigners thinking of leaving Japan soon, or have recently left Japan.
Continue reading Getting a National Pension Payment Rebate When Leaving Japan as a “Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment”