Q&A: Looking for contact lenses...

It seems that it's quite easy to find disposable contact lenses (in local stores and online), but as I don't wear glasses or contacts I was hoping those of you who do could offer your expert advice for this Q&A.

Q: I was wondering if you could give me any information on buying daily/disposable contact lenses online or from a store (in Japan). Where's the cheapest place to buy them, etc. Thanks.


A: I'm no expert when it comes to contact lenses in general, so I want to defer this to the readers, but I was able to find a list of "one day" or daily contact lenses via Amazon.jp.

So readers, I'll add to the "A" part with your answers - what do you recommend? Any brands or types you prefer? Best place to get them? Cheapest options? Please let us know below!

What to do if your alien registration card is lost or stolen

Most of you probably know that foreigners living in Japan must carry their Alien Registration Card with them at ALL times. But that doesn't mean you won't ever lose it, or (hopefully not!) have it stolen. Have you ever wondered what exactly to do in that case (aside the obvious - apply for a new card) or if it is even legal to go out during such times you don't have your card for the aforementioned reasons?

If so, check out "All is not lost when 'carded'" via The Japan Times. (Yes, it is a my debut as the new Lifelines columnist - let me know what you think!) And as usual, feel free to share your own experiences regarding this issue... I'd love to hear from anyone who has gone through this before.

HOW TO: Find a good hanami spot (cherry blossom viewing)

The past two weeks seem like a horrific blur, and passed quickly as if only a few days had gone by. Though I know I need to go back to regular posts on this blog, I haven’t felt it appropriate at all - and I’m sure many of you may feel the same about your daily routines. It’s sometimes difficult to go straight back to “real life” when around us real life has essentially been altered. For most of us, not our own personal lives, but still the lives of those we are connected to in some way. I suppose everyone feels differently about this, but I know I also felt like this when I lived in the US for Katrina and 9/11 (and just as awful for other events around the world).

My hope is that all of you reading this are safe, including your loved ones. I know this may very well not be the case, and for all those who have experienced trauma and loss, my heart goes out to you and my thoughts are with you.

I still feel as though I want to do more to help the current situation, and I know many of you feel the same, so I will continue to gather information and resources regarding giving and volunteering, as the relief efforts will likely last for quite some time. Right now, there's a list at Earthquake in Japan: resources, links & how you can help. There are also numerous other websites and blogs with ideas and resources regarding this that I've been sharing on Twitter every day the past two weeks.

[Update] Earthquake in Japan: links, resources & how you can help

On Friday, March 11, 2011 around 2:45 pm, a 9.0 earthquake struck just off the coast of northeastern Japan, followed by many, many subsequent aftershocks that still haven't stopped. They are expected to continue for weeks. The quake was felt over much of Japan (even here in Shizuoka) but particularly bad in the Tohoku region. A tsunami warning was put into effect immediately after the quake for the entire east coast of Japan, and not long after the coastal regions of Sendai, Miyagi and others were struck. The tsunami warnings extended around other parts of Japan and across the Pacific basin. Currently, no tsunami warnings are in place.

I have been tweeting and retweeting resources and updates on Twitter at @survivingnjapan about the earthquake since this afternoon and will continue to do so as appropriate in the coming weeks. You'll find more frequent updates there.

Screenshot from JMA's site indicating the earthquake and aftershocks around Japan today

6 places to find organic/natural personal care products online

Here's a big shoutout to all those using or interested in using organic or natural personal care products here in Japan. I know from experience they can be tough to find at first, particularly if you can't read Japanese. How do you read the labels? How do you know if something is truly organic? And where do you find these products? Granted, if you live in a large metropolis you'll have a much easier time than if you are out in the sticks, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily easy for anyone - at least not until you know where to look.

One definite place to start is by reading my original post on this, how to find organic/natural personal care products, and if you haven't, definitely start there for some great ideas. 

However, in this post, I just want to highlight a few organic cosmetic websites (many are stores you can order from as well), that feature various products and brands (so no one-brand sites here), and many of the products are actually Japanese. I've found some great items via some of these sites, and even though the language is all Japanese, you can definitely use a tool like Google translate or similar to help you out. 

*And no, I'm not being paid by any of these places to list them here (I wish!) - I just thought they were interesting and wanted to share.

Organic Cosme

This site is probably my favorite of the list I'm including here, mostly because of its clean and simple layout. Granted, the selection isn't huge, but there are some great finds here. In fact, I just ordered a nice aloe moisturizer from them (free of additives and bad chemicals), and they even sent me a free washcloth/hand towel as a thank you gift. (That's the kind of service that'll keep me coming back!)

HOW TO: Beat hay fever in Japan

[Updated Feb 14. 2012]

Considering it is now hay fever season in Japan (and boy has my nose let me know about it!), I'm sure many of you are already attempting to (if you haven't already) thwart the runny nose, watering eyes, and incessant sneezing, to name just a few symptoms. Fortunately, for those of you who haven't already gotten it under control, I wrote a post last year about dealing with allergies. And believe me when I say, I have some incredibly obnoxious allergies. So much so that they even partially contributed to my 6 month illness of labrynthitis one year ago.

So to start you off, be sure to check out allergies in Japan - how to deal for the very essentials (plus a few extras), and continue on below for more ideas. You might also want to learn 15 ways to survive hay fever season in Japan (options mentioned below are also included).

HOW TO: Find out how fast your laundry will dry

You probably already know that most people in Japan hang out their laundry to dry. Drive or ride past apartment buildings on a sunny day and you'll see clothes, towels, blankets and futons hanging from bars and draped over the rail. And what could be better than to have the sun dry and naturally remove odors and stains from your items? It's a wonderful thing. Well, at least when you don't have the strong winter wind like here in Shizuoka attempting to throw your stuff over the ledge (I've gotten quite clever at coming up with ways to keep things from blowing off the balcony).

And you probably also know that you wouldn't hang clothes outside if it's raining or looks like it's going to rain.

But what if you could know how fast your clothes might dry on any given day?

There's a neat tool on various weather websites that determines a "laundry index" or 洗濯指数 (せんたくしすう, sentaku shisuu) - essentially it tells you if it's a good day for hanging out laundry or not and how quickly certain items will dry.