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The Bridge to Heaven

Posted by on Dec 14, 2011 in Kyoto, Travel Volunteer Journey | 4 Comments
The Bridge to Heaven

One thing we’ve noticed about the Japanese: they can be frightfully competitive with one another. All over the country even the most humble of prefectures must claim to be the biggest/fastest/strongest/best in something, whether that’s soba making or sake brewing or rice growing etc and so on. But one thing we’ve noticed is that nowhere ...

Follow the White Rabbit

Posted by on Dec 13, 2011 in Tottori, Travel Volunteer Journey | 7 Comments
Follow the White Rabbit

These days, unless you’ve got a degree in history, and a PHD in archaeology and an agreement with the Department of Antiquities and half a dozen other bits of paper, then it’s unlikely you’re going to be a bonafide treasure hunter. Of course, 100 years ago it was very different: people – moneyed Europeans and ...

Squid Marks

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Tottori, Travel Volunteer Journey | 3 Comments
Squid Marks

Squid. It’s all over Japan – it’s all over Asia for that matter. On our very first day in Kanazawa we went to a market and saw a neat little row of the bug-eyed, jelly-bodied little guys, frozen in shock. Since then, I don’t think we’ve been to a prefecture where it’s been unavailable. In ...

The Light Fantastic

Posted by on Dec 11, 2011 in Shimane, Travel Volunteer Journey | 7 Comments
The Light Fantastic

Light is a funny old thing. For around 25 years, I stumbled around with only a cursory concept of it: sometimes it was there, sometimes it was not; sometimes there was too much of it, sometimes not enough. I think this is how a lot of people are with light: they are aware of it, ...

The Fairytale Teller

Posted by on Dec 10, 2011 in Shimane, Travel Volunteer Journey | One Comment
The Fairytale Teller

We got off the train in Matsue and winter was waiting for us. Not the fun winter of snow, steamy breath on the still air and mass conviviality. No, this is not a Hollywood winter – this is the brutal winter of the real world, and it has not come to play. Instead, it brings ...

A History of Violence

A History of Violence

It’s not all cartoon pufferfish in Shimonoseki. It’s position on the western tip of Honshu has meant that it’s seen more than its fair share of extraordinary events over the years.   Battle of Dan-no-Ura, 1185 There’s an old piece of Scottish wisdom that says it is impossible to push your grandmother from large public ...

The Deadliest Catch

The Deadliest Catch

Twenty years ago, just as it was entering its golden era, The Simpsons introduced the world at large to fugu (or blowfish, or pufferfish, or balloonfish). At Lisa’s insistence, the jaundiced family headed out to a Japanese restaurant for some sushi. All was going well until Homer insisted on ordering the potentially deadly fugu, which ...

Snap Happy

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in Oita, Travel Volunteer Journey | 6 Comments
Snap Happy

The name does not, as I have believed for so very long, have anything to do with loud artillery. This makes every explosive noise I’ve ever made while taking a photograph kind of redundant. Of course, Katy always knew better, although she didn’t know that the brand Canon actually comes from the Buddhist god of ...

Our Final Dip

Posted by on Dec 7, 2011 in Oita, Travel Volunteer Journey | 2 Comments
Our Final Dip

Almost 80 days have passed since we first experienced onsens and as we are about to leave Kyushu, one of the homes of the traditional hot spring, we thought we’d cover them one last time. I’m genuinely not sure how many hotels and resorts we’ve been in since that day in Niigata that have onsens, but ...

Back to the Wild

Posted by on Dec 6, 2011 in Oita, Travel Volunteer Journey | 2 Comments
Back to the Wild

Travelling as native English speakers we’ve found our mother tongues getting progressively worse. A sentence like: “Mum and dad’s garden became bigger over the years,” can devolve to something clunky like: “The garden of my mother and father has become more big.” It’s part of making yourself more understood, but when you suddenly bump into ...