The X-Pat Files - March 2006
(Brought to you by H&R Consultants)
This newsletter is a community service from The Japan Real Estate and Relocation company, H&R Consultants (www.japanhomesearch.com), and is edited by counselor and life coach Sue Conolly (www.sueconolly.net).
Contents for This Edition
1. Kafunsho (Hay Fever) Season - Julie Yamamoto
2. Bargain Domestic Airfares
3. Matsumoto City
4. Cherry Blossom Viewing Guide
5. Living, Working and Doing Business in Japan
6. Drivers Licenses - The Inside Scoop
7. NHK Fees
8. Forging Reality - Sue Conolly
1. Kafunsho (Hay Fever) Season - Julie Yamamoto
Have you been suffering from itchy eyes, a runny nose and constant sneezing recently? You may have hay fever, which translates into Japanese as kafunshou. The average hay fever season lasts on average from the end of February through April and sees some 16 percent of the Japanese population - or 20 million people - come down with hay fever every spring.
Hay fever, is an allergic reactions to airborne substances including pollen. There are more than 40 kinds of plants in Japanshf that emit hay fever-inducing pollen. The main culprit is Japanese cedar (sugi), followed by the cypress tree (hinoki) , both of which cover around 15 percent of Japan`s land area.
In Europe and the United States, hay fever is often caused by pollen from weeds and grass. The pollen from weeds and grass will fly only relatively short distances. Japan`s problem is unique because of an early postwar reforestation program that saw cedar saplings planted in wide areas of the country. In recent years they have started to reach their maturity in terms of pollen release. Unlike the pollen from weeds and grass, cedar and cypress pollen can carry 100km.
For those of you who are feeling the effects of hay fever, we suggest that you minimize exposure to pollen by wearing a mask and protecting your eyes with goggles or wrap-around sunglasses. Doctors recommend the use of eye drops to reduce the itchiness of eyes and nasal sprays to suppress sneezing. AG eyes (eye drops) and AG nose (nasal spray) are regarded as being some of the best kafunshou-fighting products on the market at present. They are available at all drug stores. If your symptoms persist, we recommend you visit your doctor. There are a number of medications on the market which will help to reduce your symptoms. Be sure to ask for a non-drowsy medication, in Japanese "nemuku naranai kusuri"
3. Matsumoto City
Matsumoto, in Nagano prefecture is a quaint little city surrounded by beautiful mountains. It is also a very cultural city, home to the Suzuki Method of violin among other things. There is a gorgeous old castle which is one of the few black castles in its original condition (it certainly beats Nagoya Castle with its elevator!). More information on Matsumoto can be found here:
(from the FAQ of http://japandriverslicense.com/)
A. You can drive legally for a maximum of 12 months after your entry into Japan. If you leave Japan for 3 consecutive months, the clock starts again.
Q. Who actually needs to get a Japanese Driver`s License?
A. Anybody who currently has a valid driver`s license issued in their home country, who wants to legally drive in Japan, who currently does not have a Japanese Driver`s Licence; who is planning to live in Japan for a period of greater than 12 months; who does not have the opportunity to spend more than 93 consecutive days in their home country each 12 month period; who does not fully understand the detailed process and materials required; who does not have an advanced level of written and spoken Japan language skills, and who does not want to spend a lot of time to pass their driving test, is recommended to receive our services.
Q. So, I don`t need to apply for a license until I have been in Japan for 12 months?
A. If you receive a traffic infringement while you are driving on your International Driving Permit, it is the general understanding that you pay the fine and can then forget about it. The truth is, the police record this infringement against your name and once you pass your driving test when converting to a Japanese license, you may be told that your new license is automatically suspended for up to 2 years. A minor traffic offense may lead to a big problem in the future if you do not obtain a Japanese license early. This includes simple parking tickets.
Q. Which Nationalities are required to take a written and road test?
A. Requirements for a road test is not based on your Nationality but rather which country your licensed was issued in. The easiest way for us to answer this question is to let you know in which countries ofissue licenses are not required to take a written or road test. People with licenses issued from the following countries are not required to take a written or road test to convert their home country issued driver`s license into Japanese driver`s licenses: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Korea. Keeping this answer focused on the majority of the nationalities that make up our client base, people from the U.S., South Africa, China and Brazil are required to take both a written and road test. As well as those from Africa, Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and Russia.
The NHK fees have been in the news most recently after a number of Japanese people stopped paying following a public scandal. Any search of "NHK subscription" or "NHK fees" will bring up more information about this controversial topic.
(This article is copied and pasted from my blog at www.sueconolly.net) If you`re interested in how you might be forging your own reality, I recommend the movie "What the Bleep Do We Know", available in US format DVD from Amazon.
The other day I went to Tokyo. I have to say that in the past I have not really liked Tokyo, and have only been there when absolutely necessary. I am sure that I have been there less than twenty times, so it is not unusual that on Saturday I was relying heavily on the verbal instructions given to me by the person I was to meet at Shibuya station. I came out of the station, with some trepidation that I had the right exit, and waited for my friend to arrive.
While I was waiting, in my mind I was writing my blog. The people around me looked harried, they looked depressed. In trying to count the people who looked happy, or were at least smiling, I noticed that this occurred only with those who were in some way connected with other people (walking with friends, holding hands with partners, standing in a family group). Those who were alone, without exception, looked really unhappy and alone. My blog would applaud the connections that people make, as a path to true happiness.
My friend arrived and we walked to our meeting. Through some fantastic coincidence the meeting room used by the Society of Children`s Books Authors and Illustrators, was exactly the same room in exactly the building I had been in five years earlier for another meeting of an entirely different group. The presentation I attended was fantastic, the presenter enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I was very glad I had taken the day off work, and jumped on the shinkansen to be there.
The lunch after the meeting was also really great. I enjoyed meeting new people, and was filled with a positive energy spending time with these lovely and creative people, authors and illustrators of children`s books. I left the lunch and practically bounced back to Shibuya station.
A funny thing happened back at the station. Again I had to wait for my friend, so again I was waiting at exactly the same intersection. This time, inexplicably, all of the people around me looked happier. Even those who were walking alone seemed to be walking with purpose, forging ahead in a world teeming with endless possibilities. Here they were in big city Tokyo, making a big splash with their individual presence.
There are two ways to explain this phenomenon.
1. At 9:30 in front of Shibuya station, people there are lonely and depressed, perhaps because it is so early in the morning and they were all out drinking the night before. They feel disconnected and in need of physical human contact. At 3:30, having eaten lunch, people have cheered up and found their purpose in life, are more independent and much more confident in themselves.
2. I created my own reality.
What do you think?
That`s it for this edition of the newsletter. We hope you found it informative - please let us know what you would like to see in future editions, and we will attempt to address your issues.
A disclaimer - While we do try to check submissions when they come to me, we do not take responsibility for the accuracy of any donated information. Nor do we take responsibility if your experience of places and services you find through this newsletter are not as rewarding as they were for the person who originally sent in the information. Obviously everyone`s experience is different.
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