Where do we go from here?

So a few months ago a pretty big decision was made, and as I sit here looking out over a pink Fuji, sunrise spilling over the mountains and reflecting off the snow, I can’t help but think on it. That decision was to re-contract in Japan, putting off our permanent departure from this coming summer …

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Isolation and Teaching in Japan

There’s nothing like the arrival of someone new into your life to make you question where you stand. Especially when that someone is starting from the exact same point you did years ago. I have a new co-ALT (Assistant Language Teacher), and she’s warm, kind and funny. We get along really well and I feel …

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七夕 Tanabata Festival: The Festival of Lovers in the Stars

Orihime and Hikoboshi, lovers separated across the Milky Way, are allowed to meet once a year. Represented by the stars Vega and Altair their meeting is a time of wish granting for lovers and hard workers. On the 7th day, of the 7th month of the lunisolar calendar, they are permitted to meet, and the …

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Finding my Kanji Name and Japanese Naming Conventions

Kanji learning is a scary activity for those learning Japanese. Not only are there 20,000+ characters (2,136 being the literacy requirement) but each one has multiple meanings and pronunciations. I know, right! The size of it all, and the sheer cultural dissimilarity, is massively intimidating. But it is endlessly fascinating for those interested in language, …

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ジプリ 美術館: The Ghibli Museum

Pastel palette colours wave smoothly over the unexpected turns and asymmetric designs. Windows, varying in shape and placement, are frothing with leafy green vines. The huggable mass spills over the building like the froth from a pint of beer. It shimmers in the sun as a breeze passes. So far, the architect has succeeded in …

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お好み焼き Okonomiyaki: Japan’s Savoury Pancake

Of all the food I’ve discovered in Japan I’m always most surprised that Okonomiyaki is the least recognised internationally. It’s incredibly delicious, celebrates the enduring Japanese love of cabbage, and there’s the crowd pleasing performance of cooking it yourself at your table. Okonomiyaki, translated to ‘grilled as you like it’, is a flexible dish that …

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おみくじ Omikuji: A Japanese Fortune Telling Slip

A Japanese language teacher gifted me an おみくじ, Omikuji, from the Dazaifu Tenman-gū, a famous shinto shrine in Fukuoka, Kyushu. She sat down to explain it to me, letting me know that Omikuji is best translated as a 'Fortune Slip'. As the Dazaifu Tenman-gū is a large and famous shrine, they had English Omikuji available. She happens …

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廃虚 Haikyo: Abandoned Bowling Alley

My accidental encounter with an underground Japanese hobby happened when we came to Sagami to spend a day drifting over the lake. We were taking in the burnt shades trees give off at that time of year, when we saw it. The entrance to a building over run with foliage, a squat Doraemon with waves …

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語呂合わせ Goroawase – the Art of Japanese Mnemonics

Smiling, and with the slight self-awareness that comes with starting a conversation in an otherwise empty staff room, one of the older teachers at work swung round in his chair today to speak to me about Shakespeare. As a literature graduate who has seen that meme illustrating the heart wrenching uselessness of my degree far …

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Taiikusai: Inside a Japanese Sports Day

May is a little early for Japanese Sports Days but in compartmentalised Tokyo these rentable sports grounds are booked solid through the summer months. The entire student body, and teachers, are assembled on the pitch. The students lined up according to colour coded houses, and the teachers are sitting under the just erected canopy, the …

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