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How to Receive SMS Passcodes Abroad

Although I've lived overseas in Japan for some time now, I still maintain a "presence" of sorts in my USA homeland in the form of bank accounts, credit cards, Paypal, etc.  The Internet with its access-anywhere convenience makes this reasonably easy; however, I smacked into a challenge when seeking to boost the security of my online financial accounts.  My ultimate goal was to setup multi-factor authentication wherever possible--a feature supported by most major online services, especially the money-related ones.

Some sites use handy token apps like "Google Authenticator" to provide the second authentication factor, but most I found use SMS--messaging the one-time password (OTP) to your phone upon login.  The problem I have is that sites like Paypal require a USA phone number to send the SMS to.  But I don't have a USA phone number because I live abroad.  Am I forever doomed to answer recycled personal questions when logging in?

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Training the Train Molester

Wait...is that his hand down- what?!?
Oh, shit. This is real life.
Being half asleep coming back from an exhausting job in Shibuya and on my way to a photoshoot, I wasn’t sure if this was me being half-delusional on behalf of lack of sleep or verifiable reality.

Nope. It’s definitely real life.

Being half-asleep on a train in Japan is nothing out of the ordinary. Actually, most people catch up on their much needed REM cycles in transit and then magically wake up when they arrive at their stop. It’s like an Asian superpower that I have somehow been able to adapt to in my gaijin way. It's no wonder every time I go back to the States, everyone wonders why I fall asleep in a car. My body just goes into Asian work-power mode. Sleep on the train, get up when your subconscious hears that magical intercom announce your approaching stop in its monotone yet elegant way, and then go, go, go. You can sleep on the train ride back home. My body is trained to sleep in transit. I don’t think at this point it will ever adapt otherwise.

Anyways, so there I was--half-asleep, listening to my iPod on shuffle, on my second home in Japan also known as the train system, and I awoke to something disturbing, confusing, and alarming.

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Japan's Donation Tax Program Delivers Fancy Almost-Free Gifts

Are you in the market for some tea that is green? Peaches, perhaps? Specialty rice painstakingly homegrown in a small village in Japan? You are in luck, as all you have to do is pay your residence and income tax for the year, and these gifts can be yours for practically free! It’s hard to believe there is actually a program like this, but Japan’s relatively new gift/tax or “Furusato Nouzei” program promises a unique way for residents to pay a portion of their taxes.

What is the gift/tax program?
The gift/tax program was started in 2008 as a way to boost the economy of smaller towns in Japan. As many Japanese are aware, the migration of young people from their pint-sized hometowns to metropolitan cities like Tokyo and Osaka puts a growing economic burden on small towns and villages across Japan. As the jobs and money move to larger cities, these small towns encounter trouble staying afloat.

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Beating the Winter Chill the Japanese Way

Japan's winter wonderland will soon be upon us. Are you excited? Please don't answer that. It's a good idea for us foreigners, especially those who have yet to experience the biting cold brought about by the season, to start preparing for it. This is not to say that winter in Japan is the most brutal or coldest that one can experience. In fact there are many other countries where the cold months can go down to as low as 10 degrees below zero. However, like most things Japanese, Japan's winter chill drifts in with its own distinctive aura.

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How to Deal with Unwanted Attention from Japanese Men

In a world striving for globalization, Japan is still a national state, with foreigners making up only 1.5% of the country’s population. The biggest foreign communities are concentrated in big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, and little to none are to be found in smaller towns and rural regions. With so little international contact, most Japanese people tend to regard foreigners as some kind of exotic creatures who happen to be out shopping at their local konbini. They stare a lot. They only speak English even if you ask them something in Japanese. And then they stare again. Needless to say, being a Westerner in Japan is no ordinary experience.  As a young woman in particular, you will probably get lots of attention from strangers as well as from colleagues or even working superiors. Knowing how strict Japanese society is when it comes to social ranking and interpersonal relationships, how do you deal with all that unwanted attention without offending anyone? Here are some frequently occurring situations and tips on handling them politely.

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How to Date Japanese Guys

Anime, J-music, J-fashion, the kawaii cult, and the Land of the Rising Sun--more and more women around the world have an ever-growing interest in Japan. The fascination towards Japanese men comes naturally--either from that cute bishōnen in the latest dorama, a popular singer, or even a manga character. However, when it comes to actually dating one, foreign girls often stumble upon cultural differences between them and the man of their dreams.  It is perfectly normal and nothing to be anxious about; these differences might actually strengthen your relationship. Think Yin-Yang as opposed to circle halves--when opposites are brought together, they form a harmonious and indestructible bond, while two identical parts can only be put together loosely.

Anyway, when coming to Japan for a longer period of time, you might want to find someone to be all lovey-dovey with. Don’t let any of those bad relationship stories on the web scare you--there are different kinds of guys in Japan as there are anywhere else. Without further ado, let’s get you started!

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