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Blast Tokyo Bureau

My baby sister Jill came to Japan for a two-week visit last May. My wife Noriko and I took her to historic Nikko and various other points of interest in and around Tokyo. My sister, however, was mainly concerned -- as crazy as it may sound -- with shoppin g for clothes. It seems that her petite frame is difficult, if not downright impossible, to find clothing that fits just right in the United States.

Jill's other primary concern was finding anything related to Lotus, the famed British automobile. It seems her doctor-boyfriend drives one and also collects miniatures of the cars.

We must have visited every hobby shop in Tokyo. It seems the cars are hard to find in the States, as they are made in England and cost big bucks -- the models, that is. The real cars are also expensive. Jill must have spent half of her time here looking f or those toy cars.

Like most newcomers to Japan, Jill was unpleasantly surprised at the prices of everything under the rising sun.

Some examples:

  • Movie admission is $20 per person.
  • A six-pack of beer costs around $13.
  • Compact discs average $30 each.
  • Dinner for two at a nice Italian restaurant will run you at least $150. (Sushi is also expensive.)
  • Rent for a three-room -- and the rooms are small--apartment in the Tokyo suburbs is about $1,500 per month.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.


The rainy season in Japan runs from late June to the end of July. This period is, of course, rainy, but nothing like the scorching heat that follows. August and September are exceedingly hot, humid months. Luckily, Noriko and I will get two weeks of relie f while we're in Seattle.

Cockroaches love the rainy season. It is their breeding time. My company, the Yomiuri Shimbun, seems to be one of their favorite places to start a family. The cockroaches that climb up on the desks frequently sneak into your briefcase; apparently looking to relocate to your house.

Fortunately we do not have -- knock on wood -- a cockroach problem at our pad -- just mosquitoes, like everyone else here.

Mosquitoes also love the rainy season. And fortunately, when given a choice, they prefer to feed on Noriko over me.


Ah yes. Another autumn and another year older (I turned 31 on Nov. 10). As the years continue to pass, I ask myself: "Why is it that the older I get, the faster time seems to go by?" One more mystery: "Why is the hair falling off my head, only to reappear on my back?"

I will not pretend to have the answers to these and other pressing questions, such as Japan's obsession with corn--which is smuggled into virtually every kind of food: pizza, potato salad, green salad, sandwiches, ice cream, soup, chicken and meatloaf.