There is a Light and it Never Goes Out

There is a Light and it Never Goes Out

My grandfather was in it from the very start – he lied about his age so he could join up. His first missions came on the notorious North Atlantic convoys, when British ships would navigate icy North Sea to sneak past German forces and deliver supplies to the Soviets. My grandfather was 15 years old, ...

Wishy Washi

Posted by on Nov 15, 2011 in Kochi, Travel Volunteer Journey | 3 Comments
Wishy Washi

Paper making first arrived in Japan hundreds of years ago. It wasn’t theirs when it arrived, but like so many things, it was distinctly Japanese by the time it was being exported. The heavy, stiff paper, known as washi (literally meaning “Japanese paper”) was used for everything from armour to Shinto garbs to origami. Today it’s ...

Spectres, Blue and Dancing Too

Posted by on Nov 13, 2011 in Tokushima, Travel Volunteer Journey | 3 Comments
Spectres, Blue and Dancing Too

Truth be told, Tokushima prefecture offers us little we’ve not seen before. That might sound incredibly negative, but bear with me while I explain. We started today by visiting Aizumicho, a government-endorsed indigo dyeing studio and museum. The technique was imported from China around 800 years ago, and Tokushima has made itself the Japanese home ...

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Dizzy. I’m so dizzy, my head is spinning… But this whirlpool does end. A little too quickly, in fact. Forty-one metres below us in the Naruto Narrows dozens of little whirlpools are forming and collapsing, like a swarm of small hurricanes. They’re caused by a drop in water level that surges as the tide goes ...

Arty Farty

Posted by on Nov 10, 2011 in Kagawa, Travel Volunteer Journey | 6 Comments
Arty Farty

Another syndrome you should know about is that of The Wee Man. The key symptom is that the smaller-than-average person tends to compensate for their lack of feet and inches by being boisterous and uppity. Napoleon had it. So did Ghengis Khan. And so too does Kagawa, Japan’s smallest prefecture. While other, larger, prefectures are ...

Brought To You By The Letters R, L and The Colour Red

Posted by on Nov 8, 2011 in Okayama, Travel Volunteer Journey | 4 Comments
Brought To You By The Letters R, L and The Colour Red

In most countries, you find that people speaking English as a foreign language make the same mistakes. It takes a long time for Italians to drop the sing-song of their native tongue; the French will resolutely never pronounce an H; and the Spanish find swap Bs and Vs like footballers swap jerseys. Actually, they’re not ...

People Power

Posted by on Nov 5, 2011 in Osaka, Travel Volunteer Journey | 2 Comments
People Power

Today we left Osaka city centre and headed to the east of the sprawl. This area has drawn artistic souls from around Japan – and even further afield – to come and create. While their trades aren’t related to each other at all, each of them has a irrepressible creative spirit that we couldn’t help ...

Raw Temptation

Posted by on Oct 18, 2011 in Nagano, Travel Volunteer Journey | One Comment
Raw Temptation

We had half an idea about Nagano before arriving in Japan. The monkeys, the legendary snow, the world class ski-runs… None of that was a surprise. The unbelievable autumn colours were a bonus; as was the hospitality of the people we met along the way. People like talented snow-fanatic Yasu of the Tabi Tabi Lodge ...

Face Painting

Posted by on Oct 15, 2011 in Gunma, Travel Volunteer Journey | 3 Comments
Face Painting

As with most ancient religious figures, there is some conjecture about the true history of Daruma, a devout monk whose practise of extreme mediation gave rise to Zen Buddhism. One colourful tale that says once, during a nine session of staring at a wall, he once fell asleep. On waking, he was so disgusted with ...

A Dyeing Art and Miso Healthy

Posted by on Oct 14, 2011 in Saitama, Travel Volunteer Journey | 6 Comments
A Dyeing Art and Miso Healthy

From the neon modernity of Tokyo and its surrounds, we couldn’t have ended up anywhere much more different than sleepy Chichibu. There are traditional buildings on every other corner, the air is crisp and clean, and we are surrounded by mountains. We have jumped out of the fire and into a cool pine-scented bath. It’s ...