Deodorize and More with Activated Charcoal

You may recall a post from a few months ago about takesumi, otherwise known as bamboo charcoal. This nifty material has quite a few handy household uses, including deodorizing, balancing humidity levels and keeping produce in the fridge fresh longer. Check out 6 Reasons You Should Use Bamboo Charcoal (Takesumi) for more.

More recently at the store, I came across deodorizing activated charcoal in small, vented, plastic containers you can use in your fridge, freezer, produce crisper/drawer, or in places such as kitchen cabinets, shoe cupboards or closets. The brand I saw was 脱臭炭, but has another brand of the same type of product.

4 Tips to Maintain Black Hair While Living in Japan

Today's guest post comes from Amanda of Whoa...I'm in Japan?, a blog covering the ins and outs of daily life in Tokyo, from the crazy to the mundane, with her personal spin on it. Though the following topic will not apply to everyone, I'm hoping the information Amanda generously provided here will be helpful in some way to those looking for it. And, as always, if you know of other related resources, please feel free to share them in the comments! 
- Ashley


I must admit this was a big concern for me in the early days when I was flipping back and forth about whether I should move to Japan or not. After all, Asian hair is pretty much the polar opposite of black hair. Asian hair is often straight; black hair is curly/frizzy. Asian hair can become too greasy; black hair gets too dry. I thought I would have quite a difficult time getting my mane under control in a country that not only doesn’t cater to my hair care needs, but boasts some of the worst summer humidity I’ve ever felt…and you know what humidity can do to a girl’s hair.

So, I did some googling and youtube-ing, had a good, long heart-to-heart with my hairdressers before I left Canada, and after six months living in Tokyo I still haven’t gone bald. Would you like to know my secrets?

Tip #1: Let it grow

About Cycling and Biking in Japan

Biking (or cycling) is probably one of the better ways to get around in Japan, that is, unless you live in the middle of nowhere (but even then a meandering ride past rice and tea fields is quite nice). If you've spent any time riding a bike in Japan, you may have noticed that there doesn't always seem to be "set rules" in place, or you regularly fear for your life when navigating amongst and alongside cars and large crowds of people. Erica of Expatria Baby is here to explain what the rules are, and of course, what you might actually experience in reality...

I recently acquired a shiny, new, cherry-red bicycle equipped with a rad child seat and a nifty little red pepper bell. This makes me all sorts of happy because cycling is the way to get around urban Japan -- so much more convenient and WAY less annoying than public transit; faster (and more fun) than walking; and come on, people, a red pepper bike bell! What’s not to love?

Well, one thing, actually. Traffic laws. I am completely bewildered by what is and isn’t allowed on two wheels. Not to mention I’m somewhat intimidated by the packs of wild bikes that populate Japan’s sidewalks: bikes ostensibly piloted by rabid honey badgers with opposable texting thumbs. Are they breaking the law? Or am I, mild-mannered street rider, in the wrong? Is it customary to ride three-cycle-deep with an umbrella while listening to an MP3 player and texting on my phone?

(I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to do that. Though, observation tells me I could be wrong.)

The only solution to this maddening conundrum was, obviously, to research and write a post for Surviving in Japan on Japanese bicycle laws. So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve learned:

5 Ways to Not Stand Out in Japan

Many of us expats (or "foreigners" or "gaijin" as we often refer to ourselves) in Japan know well the feeling of not quite blending in. I'm sure many of you have experienced constant stares, as I often have (I have a feeling our little foreign baby will bring about even more of this...). And yet there are others who seem to attract more "unwanted," sometimes negative, attention. Attention is often something to be expected in Japan as a non-native, but that doesn't mean negative attention is OK, and for that which is of a more innocent nature, it's not always easy to accept or get used to. 

If you're feeling this way, Caroline of C. Life in Japan is here to share some ideas about how to "blend in" a bit more in Japan (if you want to, that is). *Please keep in mind these are just general suggestions and not "rules" of any kind, and they certainly don't guarantee that you won't receive any attention whatsoever - especially those ubiquitous stares... 

Oh, and between you and me, getting pregnant and having a baby definitely is not the thing to do if you don't want attention. - Ashley


I have been witness to, and heard many stories, about Japanese people approaching foreigners in Japan and asking strange questions or giving unwanted attention. Most of this is innocent, but still, it can take a toll, especially if you aren't accustomed to it.

Foreigners who have made lives for themselves in Japan take pride in that, myself included, and there’s nothing worse than being treated like a tourist in a place you consider your home.

How can this be avoided? I’m here to give a few tips (from my own experiences) on how to not stand out as much (unless you prefer being the center of attention).

How to Have a Baby (and not a Nervous Breakdown) in Japan

If you've been following the Pregnant in Japan series here on SiJ, then today's guest post from Erica of Expatria Baby may provide you some reassurance if you've just discovered you're pregnant and planning to give birth in Japan. Definitely check out Erica's blog as well for more of her adventures raising a baby in Japan. 

- Ashley


While Ashley is off enjoying her new little love, I thought I’d bring you a few tips on having a baby in Japan while holding onto your sanity.

Babies are stressful. So is making them. But having a baby in a country where you don’t understand the health care system and can barely speak the language and cannot find BPA-free baby bottles even though I’m going to breastfeed OMGPANICGAH!

So, all you Japan-living pregnant ladies, I know you can’t take a chill pill, or even have a glass of wine, but you can read this post and put your feet up. So do that.

Accept The Fact That You Are In Japan And That Isn’t A Bad Thing