Wednesday, April 13, 2011

buying on and paying at a conbini

I've mentioned buying toys and books on So here are some instructions for paying at a convenience store.
First of all, you should know that you can get most of the info in English if you look for the "Display this information in English" link on the right of the page. This can be a little tricky to spot, but it is there. Search for what you want and then put it in your cart and checkout. Go through the steps and input your address etc. When it comes to the payment method, choose pay at a convenience store. NOTE: If it is a non-amazon (or marketplace) seller then you can't use this option.
First, you will get an order confirmation email. The next is probably the "payment number." Scroll down until you see your email address, a long number and the amount due. Write down the long number and take it to any convenience store. In my experience Lawson's red kiosks are the easiest to use, but for us Family Mart is closest. Here are some instructions for Family Mart.
Here is the machine:

Just touch the screen to begin. This is the section for paying on Amazon on the first page:

Go to the next page by pushing on the down arrow. Look for the Amazon logo

The first page you need to input your payment number.

On the next page you need to enter 888 for some reason.
Then push the confirm button "確認” (A good Kanji to learn by the way) on the bottom left.
The machine prints out a ticket that you then take to the counter to pay.
I hope this helps. As soon as you pay they send your package- we have got ours the very next day sometimes.
Here is a useful post from Surviving in Japan about vocab for ordering online.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


To help foster an appreciation of the glorious history around us we have encouraged a fascination with ... NINJAS! Of course the Lego Ninjago series helps encourage this fascination too. We've checked out wikipedia, the library and got a book. Now we needed to visit the place where it all began- Iga and Koka. These were rival ninja towns between Kyoto and Nagoya- they are each about a day trip away. It might be tough to do both in a day unless you get out really early in the day- never our strong point. We chose to hit the closest- Koka. The selling point for us was the ninja obstacle course at Ninjutsu mura. It was a blast! Highly recommended. We went to the throwing star range (Y300 for 8 stars). Got a tour of a ninja hideout with secret passages and traps. The kids all did the obstacle course-climbing castle walls, sneaking along walls, escaping down wells, and crossing moats (Okay I did too- hey, it looked too fun). Accomplishing these feats earned them each their ninja licenses. It was a bit confusing at first, in part because the ninja village is designed so that you can never get a sense of the entire place to confuse enemies. Plus all the signs are in Japanese. I would recommend just exploring and seeing what you find. The guided tour of the obstacle course was called "Ninja Dojo" and they announced it over the loudspeaker. If you hear something over the loudspeaker go to the gift shop area to meet the group and just do what everyone else does. The ninja hideout house (Karakuri ninja yashiki) was also with a guided tour- the house is just uphill from the gift shop to the left of the giant hand statue. They do regular tours there so just look for a group.
The gift shop was a major draw too. E got a throwing star, J got a ninja Hello Kitty, and S got a squeaky sword.
The nitty-gritty:
Adults Y1000
Elementary: Y700
Below: Y500
Rental ninja outfits for the day: Adults Y1000 kids Y600. Available opposite the gift shop. We didn't do this, but it would have been fun for the kids- maybe next time.
Call from the Koka station (JR Kusatsu line) for a free shuttle. Cabs would work too.
Ninjamura: 0748-88-5000

English language books

Our son E loves to read but it is hard to keep him in books. We brought some with us, but those went fast. So we had to find new ones. We live close to the central library, which is good for rainy days too. They have English versions of the Harry Potter books and selections from the classics: Treasure Island, Arabian Nights, King Arthur and oddly, Roald Dahl's BFG. They can also order other English books from other branches. There are also several bookstores that have good English selections. Junkudo in BAL on Kawaramachi just south of Sanjo has perhaps the best selection, but the other big stores have several English books as well. We have also been to the bookstore in Aeon Mall south of the station. As always Amazon is a good option too. We got some good "One Piece" mangas via Amazon.
There are some used choices as well-the YWCA (west of the palace) has a book exchange that has some young adult books. We've also trawled Green eBooks (on Marutamachi east of the Kamogawa) for the few young adult novels they had. Their inventory changes and they might have more on other occasions.
Finally a good option is to exchange among friends. We do this with our friends and it multiplies the number of books each of us have.

Kid friendly restaurants- Cafe Frosch

This month's "Leaf" (May 2011) has a special issue on kid friendly activities and cafes etc in Kyoto and Shiga. "Leaf" is a good resource for Kyoto restaurants and so forth, and it is nice to have one focused on kids. One find in there was Cafe Frosch. This cafe near Kitano Tenmangu is in an old Machiya, so the ambiance is great- plus it has an indoor play area (best for under elementary school age). The food is cafe style but very nicely done. We had curry and sandwiches, but the pasta looks delicious too. On our way out we bought whole wheat bread and a bagel. The bread was wonderful and the bagel was the best I have had in Japan.

Open everyday but Monday. Wednesday night is English night. On Saturdays they do international brunches with a different theme each week: Mexican, Cuban, German, etc. The proprietor is extremely nice and speaks perfect English, German and a bit of Chinese. Free Wifi