Japan’s Top 20 “Reform” Wishlist

When a typical Japanese house reaches 30 years of age, it’s considered dangerous and likely to fall down. I think this is more of a myth than reality, but it’s a common belief that has led to a huge industry of “reform”. This holds particular interest for me because I live in one of those houses and there are only 12 years left before it supposedly implodes! Here, I count […]

New Earthquake Emergency Shelters

Earlier this year, Mike McKinlay and I went to to the Gifu Prefecture Regional Disaster Management Center to try out the earthquake simulator. Being the only visitors all day (and introducing ourselves as big-time Canadian bloggers), the staff treated us like royalty! We were given a personal tour of the facility and they even filmed us trembling like little girls on the simulator. A ground-shaking experience The earthquake simulator, which […]

35-Year Japanese Mortgage

It’s been nearly a year since we moved into our first house. Most house hunters will have saved enough to put down a hefty deposit on a new house in Japan, but in our case, we had to find a mortgage to cover the whole cost of the house. Mortgages in Japan usually run for 35 years, which is actually longer than the lifespan of a Japanese house. Typically, after 15 years you’ll need […]

My home in the countryside

My first five years in Japan were spent living in downtown Nagoya, among the skyscrapers, train stations and other concrete structures. Most parks were simply gravel areas for kids to run around on. Now, nearly ten years after coming to Japan, I’m living in what the Japanese would call ‘the countryside’. So I thought I’d post a few pictures from around my neighborhood. Bear in mind that by ‘countryside’, I […]

My house is a Daiwa house

There’s a TV commercial in Japan by a house-building company called ‘Daiwa House’ in which an English teacher is reading sentences for his class of high school students to repeat. I can’t remember exactly but he says something like “My father is a doctor”, and all the students diligently repeat him. Then, following the same rules of grammar, he says “My mother is a teacher”, and once again they all repeat. Finally, […]