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Ready? Go! and Rock Wishes

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in Miyazaki, Travel Volunteer Journey | 4 Comments
Ready? Go! and Rock Wishes

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve written: “[thing] wasn’t actually invented in Japan, but arrived from China” or words to that effect. This morning we discovered another one, an ancient Asian board game that was first known as weiqi (in China), then baduk (in Korea) or and finally go (Japan). The rules seem ...

The Place Where Gods Are Born

The Place Where Gods Are Born

Earlier this year we spent seven weeks in America. This was a typical conversation: “Where y’all from?” “Scotland.” “Oh I’m Scottish.” “Really? Where were you born?” “Arizona, but my great, great grandmother on my father’s side was from Elgin.” “Right.” There’s something nice about it, though, the North American obsession over tracing routes. It doesn’t ...

Under the Sea (Well, Almost)

Posted by on Dec 3, 2011 in Okinawa, Travel Volunteer Journey | 3 Comments
Under the Sea (Well, Almost)

“I tell you I was born on the seashore! I bathed in the waters of the sea! It gave me food and it gave me peace, and its fascinating distances fed my dreams… I have to smile for the salt of the sea is in my blood, and there may be ten thousand roads over ...

Tale of Two Castles

Posted by on Dec 2, 2011 in Okinawa, Travel Volunteer Journey | 2 Comments
Tale of Two Castles

According to our copy of the Lonely Planet, there’s a school of thought that believes that America deliberately left Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, open to attack in order to draw the country into the Second World War. Obviously as uneducated travel volunteers we’ve no idea if that’s true, but it’s an interesting perspective – and one ...

Naha, Okinawa, Asia

Posted by on Dec 1, 2011 in Okinawa, Travel Volunteer Journey | 3 Comments
Naha, Okinawa, Asia

We’ve only been here a few hours, but we reckon if Vietnam and Hawaii had a baby, it’d look a lot like Okinawa. The latter because of the American hangover that came with a quarter century of occupation after the war – there are garish Hawaiian shirts everywhere, middling Tex Mex restaurants and Mickey Mouse’s ...

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 ...