節分 Setsubun: A Japanese Coming of Spring Festival

A normally robust P.E. teacher quietly issues a ‘sumimasen’ at my shoulder. She stands behind my chair with a small paper bag in two hands outstretched, in the polite style of giving something. Rough calligraphy style kanji swoops over the front as is the norm with small, locally crafted gifts. She offers me the bag …

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節分 Setsubun Festival: 恵方巻 Eho-maki

Setsubun is here and so I'll be celebrating it in the Kansai tradition. On my way to work today I dropped into my local convini to pick up an Eho-Maki 恵方巻, translated as "lucky direction roll". Eho-Maki is an uncut roll of sushi, otherwise called makizushi. Once a year the stores will line their shelves with …

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A Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Daisetsuzan National Park’s The Grand Traverse – Part 1

Daisetsuzan, the largest national park in Japan, is located in the centre of its northernmost island, Hokkaido.  Measuring a gargantuan 2,267km² the expansive area hosts every biome imaginable; sprawling forests, marshland, snow drifts, shifting volcanic rock, bamboo forests, the list goes on... The landscape, wild and stunning in its sheer size, gives a hiker plenty …

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