The Living Island – Part Two

Posted by on Nov 30, 2011 in Kagoshima, Travel Volunteer Journey | 3 Comments
The Living Island – Part Two

“Sleeping is giving in, so lift those heavy eyelids,” so sing Arcade Fire, but this morning if it had been up to us – or more specifically: me – we would definitely have raised the white flag. In my humble opinion, 5am starts are not conducive to a good morning, especially when the blog is ...

The Living Island – Part One

Posted by on Nov 29, 2011 in Kagoshima, Travel Volunteer Journey | 2 Comments
The Living Island – Part One

“Write about what you know,” they say. No one’s above doing that – Hemingway did it; so did Tolstoy and Joyce. Hell, at one time or another, most of the good old boys cannibalised their own lives for their art, and it turns out that Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki has done it too. Given ...

Buried Alive

Buried Alive

A certain amount of it has to come down to trust. Advertising today has got to a point where people regurgitate the work of copywriters as their own opinion without really knowing what they’re talking about: “Yeah but [this generic health product or treatment] is full of nutrients and natural goodness.” What does that actually ...

The Children of the Volcano

Posted by on Nov 27, 2011 in Kumamoto, Travel Volunteer Journey | No Comments
The Children of the Volcano

Approximately 92,800 years ago: homo sapiens and Neanderthals coexist; Mammoths walk the Earth; people still use CDs; and the island of Kyushu is being ripped asunder by the eruption of Mount Aso. It had already been exploding on and off for two hundred thousand years, but this was the big one: the mountain unleashed such ...

Isolation and The Last Samurai

Posted by on Nov 26, 2011 in Kumamoto, Travel Volunteer Journey | One Comment
Isolation and The Last Samurai

At the start of the 17th century, with the commencement of the Edo Period, Japan decided it didn’t want foreign friends any more. Citing moral decline, the arrival of alien religions and the wicked vices of the wider world, it closed its doors and entered a period of self-isolation known as Sakoku. In the bustling ...

Battleship Island

Posted by on Nov 25, 2011 in Nagasaki, Travel Volunteer Journey | 4 Comments
Battleship Island

Hashima – or Battleship Island – lying just outside the bay of Nagasaki was, for almost 90 years, a bustling coal mining community. The entire place was owned by the Mitsubishi company, who used every scrap of land to house employees, offices and mining facilities in a concrete fortress in the middle of the sea. ...

Time to Gamble… YOUR LIFE

Posted by on Nov 24, 2011 in Nagasaki, Travel Volunteer Journey | No Comments
Time to Gamble… YOUR LIFE

Today we felt like a break from all the museums and the history and the real world, so we decided to duck into the cinema. As there will be on screens around the world, American movies dominated the bill here in Nagasaki, but we didn’t fancy any of that, so we opted for a Japanese ...

China Town

Posted by on Nov 23, 2011 in Saga, Travel Volunteer Journey | One Comment
China Town

If you’re going to go for something, don’t hold back. Take a leaf out Arita’s book. Four hundred years ago, it became a porcelain hub and now, well the entire place is beautifully breakable. There are porcelain fittings for light switches, porcelain dolls to mark out the ladies and gents bathrooms, odd chunks of broken ...

Something Old, Something New

Posted by on Nov 22, 2011 in Saga, Travel Volunteer Journey | One Comment
Something Old, Something New

It’s gives a person perspective, does the Travel Volunteer Project. Perspective with which to look across the country and decide what you do and don’t like; what you do and don’t find impressive. For example, having been in Matsumoto, Kochi and Matsuyama castles – one quarter of Japan’s remaining original castles – I can say ...

Al Fresco Fukuoka

Posted by on Nov 21, 2011 in Fukuoka, Travel Volunteer Journey | 4 Comments
Al Fresco Fukuoka

For over a thousand years, Fukuoka has had dealing with its Asian cousins. Though it used to be a perilous trip across the Japan Sea – just ask the would-be invaders from Mongolia – today it’s a mere three hours by hydrofoil to the Korean peninsula. China? For Fukuoka, Shanghai and Tokyo are equidistant. With ...