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Showing posts from August, 2012

How to Enjoy Japan

Prologue to a series:  My new project for the next six months will be branding this site and making it a resource for travelers and researchers on Japan.   Firstly, the internet is flooded with information on life over here.   Many of the sites/blogs explore the dynamics between foreigner and native from a linguistic and cultural points of view, to racism and how that makes any sense at all.      What you'll find is that my site will be very insightful, totally presenting a more natural and realistic element to the Japan experience.


The natural way of course:


Water and trees are in abundance here.   The wood culture alone makes up roughly about 70% of the land mass and with a history of thousands of years.    Japan is roughly the size of the State of California, just to give you a little perspective.


You are nature.   You are as much a part of nature as it is a part of you.  You breath, and fertilize, you exist, you feed off the land, you reproduce.     We are the benefactors of …

Social Awareness

Prologue to a series:  My new project for the next six months will be branding this site and making it a resource for travelers and researchers on Japan.   Firstly, the internet is flooded with information on life over here.   Many of the sites/blogs explore the dynamics between foreigner and native from a linguistic and cultural points of view, to racism and how that makes any sense at all.      What you'll find is that my site will be very insightful, totally presenting a more natural and realistic element to the Japan experience.

You can also download to your iPhone



Your role as the foreign national living and working in Japan should be defined as simply as possible.    When living in any country where the local language and customs are different from your own, you are overcome with stress.    Even when you do not realize it.    It is a natural consequence of living away from your particular social mold and group.  


How to think, and how to feel:


The Japanese are instinctual p…

Living Advice

Prologue to a series:  My new project for the next six months will be branding this site and making it a resource for travelers and researchers on Japan.   Firstly, the internet is flooded with information on life over here.   Many of the sites/blogs explore the dynamics between foreigner and native from a linguistic and cultural points of view, to racism and how that makes any sense at all.      What you'll find is that my site will be very insightful, totally presenting a more natural and realistic element to the Japan experience.


Living Advice:

Where to shop, what to buy, cost performance.   I run several stores here and here.here.


Mondays and Wednesdays are great days for shopping round the greater Yokohama area.   Especially with larger chain super markets which offer big markdowns on frozen food.    We're talking 50%~70% in some stores: York Mart, Ito Yokado, just to name a couple....   The thing with  frozen food in Japan is that there is so much variety to choose from.…

Dating in Japan

Prologue to a series:  My new project for the next six months will be branding this site and making it a resource for travelers and researchers on Japan.   Firstly, the internet is flooded with information on life over here.   Many of the sites/blogs explore the dynamics between foreigner and native from a linguistic and cultural points of view, to racism and how that makes any sense at all.      What you'll find is that my site will be very insightful, totally presenting a more natural and realistic element to the Japan experience.


Dating in Japan:  

Where to meet women, how to approach women, and what to say.


Meeting women has a lot to do with timing.   So far, the easiest way has always been the nightclubs and social media sites.   I have used both of these resources and have met some wonderful people, but I do not necessarily recommend them nowadays as there are so many more natural ways and settings to engage women.   I think a lot of professional women, or at least women w…

Pancake House in Yokohama

For immediate information on times, locations, and phone numbers click here.   If you want to hear my apotheosis over heart attack inducing food stuffs then read this post - you are in the right place.  



No matter how much Japanese restaurateurs import from the U.S.A. they will never have it all.    There's always something they either forgot to order, or couldn't order for logistical reasons.   Even the American wholesaler Cosctos, with their dozen or so branches in Japan, doesn't carry many of the home favourites many of us Americans have grown up with.    Stuff like grits, and fatty bacon simply do not exist here Japan.   Real Louisiana sausages, or hot links, as they are referred to where I'm from, are unheard of here.    Whenever I try to explain these things to friends who are stateside, they simply fail to grasp it.   They think all American food can be easily purchased anywhere in the world.    It's as if they take so much of what they have at home for g…

Yonezawa

Itaya Station

There are many hidden gems tucked away all over Japan.   Sometimes they  come in the form of old temples, shrines, and even manhole covers, for some people.    Ramshackle sheds, barns, old rundown train station with thick shrubs grown in and around them are what do it for me.   Miles of unused rail lines deteriorating  and rusting, yet somehow, with all of these left over remnants of a time long gone, what remains lends a sweet beauty to the landscape of this part of Ubayu.   This is what I love about Tohoku, especially Yamagata Prefecture.  
The Tsubasa snakes its way through the Fukushima / Yamagata Valley, just along the border near route 13 and 232.   It moves slowly, and I'm  sure the views are wonderful from inside as well as it was from the outside.   
I'm sure we could all appreciate taking picture of trains, and not just from them.    As the train passed I could see passengers drinking beer and snacking away on something, and pointing here and there.   …

Old Places: Ubayu Onsen

It's nice when you can return to the places that once moved you.   Places locked in timelessness, like it was yesterday, just the way you remembered it.   I had feared, like so many others, that some of the most pristine natural preserves of the rich, the hot spring, would some how be tainted,  especially by the hordes of tourist and site seekers, and the dreadful backpackers.    That somehow or a another, something as so natural, through the years, could withstand the march of time and yet still  maintain its original beauty.   Behold, Ubayu Onsen.



The first time the soles of  my feet kissed the waters of Ubayu was over six years ago, when the piping was still being lain by engineers and geothermal experts.   I came at a time when no one, save a few locals, knew about the place.  I even wrote about it in my book.    I retraced my footsteps recently; climbing the stone walkway, high up into the atmosphere it seemed.  Alone.  And soul  searching.  It truly is really high up, so h…

Torii Gate Burning!

The Torii, or traditional Japanese gate, is one of the most iconic symbols of Japan.    It's  often found at the entrance of a Shinto Shrine whereby visitors pass under.     Shinto is the indigenous spirituality of the nation of Japan, and therefore I was intrigued when I heard there was going to be a burning of the Torii Gates - the symbolic entrance point of one of the most revered objects on this island nation.    



Deep in the heart of Hakone, a pristine hot spa reserve, there's a  charming little lake tucked away from plain view that people from all over the world travel to for that iconic picture postcard image of Mount Fujii with the lake, and the red hachiman(D) gate in the back drop.     Below is a diagram of all the different styles of gates in Japan.

C「明神鳥居(Myōjin torii)」、D「八幡鳥居(Hachiman torii)」、E「春日鳥居(Kasuga torii)」

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August is the start of fireworks season in this part of Japan.    The event I attended is called the Torii Gate Burning and Lantern Flo…

The Calm Before the Boom

You know how it feels, standing there, waiting for the show to begin.     I didn't have to elbow my way through the crowds because here in Japan the people do things in a very orderly fashion.    All I had to do was follow the guy in front of me through a cordoned off pathway leading to my destination.

 I shot this at an iso of 6400 for shits and giggles.    Plus, it's an excuse for not toting my tripod around.     The screamer was nice to have, too.   Especially on busy nights  like that night where there was no parking.    Buzzing around traffic as if there were no traffic rules nor lights was nice, yet dangerously fun.


The first bang went off and the greatest fireworks show in Yokohama started.  I've been a permanent fixture around this part of Yokohama, sort of.   I mean, I have seen every fireworks show every single year for the past 8 years.   2012 turned out to be the best on record for having the most fireworks and the largest turnout in this events history.  

I…