The Wonderful World of Japanese Stationery

One of the first things that comes to mind for many people when you mention Japan is the vast array of crazy inventions that come out seemingly daily.

And yet among all the fads and failures that come out are a lot of pretty awesome and useful things, especially when it comes to stationery. Continue reading The Wonderful World of Japanese Stationery

Let it Snow!

For me December has always been a time of warm sunny days that are spent relaxing at home with family or hanging out with friends at the beach. Japanese winters though are a beast of a different nature.

Especially now that I’ve moved to central Japan where snow is all too common during the winter months I’ve found it pretty tough to drag myself out of my warm futon to try and brave the blizzards and icy walkways on my way to school in the mornings. Continue reading Let it Snow!

The Narrow Roads of Japan

To paraphrase Forest Gump, driving in Japan is like a box of chocolates. There’s a lot of awesomeness awaiting you as you first head out onto the road in our new little car and realize that there’s a whole world of beautiful and captivating sights and places to visit. But there is also the sudden realization that to balance all this awesomeness there is a lot of downsides to driving in Japan.

First off, once you’ve actually managed to jump through enough hoops to satisfy the Japanese DMV that you won’t immediately crash upon being let loose on the streets of Japan you’ll find that the vast majority of the roads winding their way through the cities and countrysides of Japan are so narrow that even in a small kei car you’ll find yourself wincing as each passing car seems to pass within mere millimeters of your side view mirror. It’s probably because of this that one of the main sticking points with the driver’s license test is to learn to hug the left side of the road as though your life depended on it, as it may very well save you from a nasty accident later on! Continue reading The Narrow Roads of Japan

Seeing Japan Anew

It’s been a whirlwind two weeks for me recently with my parents and two friends coming through to Japan. I’ve had to try and organize hotels, itineraries and transport for them as well as helping them navigate the many subtle things that make Japan so Japan.

It was tremendously fun to spend some time with them in
Tokyo and Yokohama as I haven’t had much chance to go outside of my little countryside town for the past few months. Continue reading Seeing Japan Anew

Full Throttle

After a long and hard 3 years of trying I can finally join the ranks of the driving elite here in Japan after having successfully having passed my drivers license test to transfer my South African license to a Japanese one.

The Japanese driving test is one of the most infamous tests of patience in Japan. Every step of the process takes ages to do and most people take anywhere from 2 to 10 or even more attempts to pass the practical test. Continue reading Full Throttle

Giant Robots & Japan

One of the first things that students learn when I introduce myself to them is that I’m a fan of the Japanese animation series, Neon Genesis Evangelion.

I’m not going to geek out though in this post and write paragraph after paragraph of prose about it’s deep themes or excellent take on the giant robot genre of animation that is so quintessentially Japanese. What I do want to talk about though is just how endearingly popular this show is in Japan today even though it originally aired in 1995. Continue reading Giant Robots & Japan

In the Heat of Summer

I’m just about all set up in my new ALT position after a few busy weeks of paperwork, moving and what feels like a thousand other things that are all part and parcel of moving work & home in Japan.

The school I’m working at now is pretty high level and offers not just English but several other language courses for kids such as Spanish and Korean. Continue reading In the Heat of Summer

Golden Week Adventures

The end of April and the start of May in Japan is always the best no matter what your job or where you are. It’s a glorious period know as Golden Week, which is the Japanese equivalent of Easter holidays in the there’s a slew of national holidays that see all and sundry take to the roads and the sky on their way to a week-long vacation.

Of course the downside is that when you are one of those people yourself you soon find that every train, plane and bus is filled to bursting which makes traveling just a bit more stressful than it needs to be. Continue reading Golden Week Adventures

Spring in Japan

Spring in Japan is one of the most beautiful seasons anywhere in the world. Every street and park is filled with cherry blossom trees in full bloom and families and groups of office workers eating and drinking under the trees.

It’s also a bit of a respite from the freezing cold of winter before the humid heat and rain of summer arrives. Continue reading Spring in Japan