Traditional Japanese Paper Making in Kurotani Village, Kyoto

Originally written for Voyapon Sponsored by North Kansai Tourism Association Ohhhh, hand-made paper. I remember going through and feeling my mother’s old collection of Japanese washi papers as a kid, loving the texture of the delicate veins of natural fibres weaved into a smooth layer. I even went through a phase of making my own paper, using everything…

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The 800-Year Old Japanese Craft Heritage of Tamba Pottery

Originally written for Voyapon Sponsored by North Kansai Tourism Association When I was a kid, my mother thought it was best to keep my brother and I occupied with a myriad of craft-making camps and workshops that filled our summer vacations. What probably started as a crafty (cough, cough pun intended) idea to keep a couple of…

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Keeping the Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive in Tamba Sasayama Castle Town

Originally written for Voyapon Sponsored by North Kansai Tourism Association It was a day of wind and rain — not exactly the ideal weather for a photoshoot in Hyogo Prefecture’s (兵庫県) Tamba-Sasayama (丹波篠山市). Home to a rich 400-year old history, this Japanese castle town includes a unique pottery culture, a contemporary castle, and perfectly preserved samurai…

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A Stay in the Traditional Japanese Home of Umetan FUJI, Hyogo

Originally written for Voyapon Sponsored by North Kansai Tourism Association “Watch out for those deer!” I whispered, as a herd suddenly skipped across the road in the dark. It was a moonless night in Hyogo prefecture’s Tamba Sasayama (丹波篠山) as we headed to our accommodations at Umetan Fuji for the night. Our guide Michiko however, seemed to have seen them a mile…

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Cherry Blossoms and Baby Blue Eyes in Nakatsu, Oita

Perhaps it’s an obvious statement, but allow me to make it anyways: Japan loves their sakura. With a sakura blossoming forecast plotted out on a map for all of Japan to see (here and here), it’s easy to anticipate their fullest bloom no matter where you are in Japan. It was the beginning of sakura…

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Christmas 2019: Kurokawa Onsen

It was 3 years ago when I first visited Kurokawa Onsen. On my first trip back to Japan as an adult in 2016, my boyfriend and I splurged on a stay at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) at the famous onsen hotspot in Kumamoto prefecture. With absolutely no previous experience staying in any ryokan, this upscale…

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The Swordsmith of Arao, Kyushu

Originally written for Voyapon Sponsored by Northern Kumamoto Administrative Headquarters “Strike while the irons hot.” I always knew what this meant, though never witnessed it in its complete, literal meaning. That is, until one a stormy day, while the furnace roars and hammers clang, as Mr. Matsunaga of Arao, Kumamoto leads us into the elusive…

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Exploring the Outdoor Playground of Aso, Kumamoto

Originally written for Voyapon @ http://voyapon.com/outdoor-adventure-aso-kumamoto/ Sponsored by Northern Kumamoto Administrative Headquarters Ahh, the great outdoors of Aso. Famous for its rich milk and yogurt drinks, Aso is an incredible fusion of contrasting terrains that seamlessly blend into one another. As a Canadian who split her time growing up in the Canadian Rockies and its…

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Miyazaki Day 3: Takachiho

Day 3: Takachiho Gorge Our last day in Miyazaki starts early. There’s a place I’ve wanted to visit since looking into our travels in Miyazaki. Takachiho Gorge is famous for its gorgeous ravines. There are turquoise blue boats you can rent for a unique perspective of the gorge. The previous night, we learn on the…

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Miyazaki Day 2: Udo-jingū and Wild Horses

It’s day two, and the sun feels prickly on the back of our necks. It suddenly feels like summer, and I am overly dressed with pants and a long sleeve shirt. Our first stop is Udo-jingū, a brightly painted shrine set within a cave on cliffs facing the Open Pacific. With brilliant red paint set…

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Miyazaki Day 1: Aoshima Island and Obi Town

From the 29th of April to early May, a string of consecutive holidays called Golden Week (GW) takes place every year in Japan. This year’s abdication of the Emperor and the subsequent succession meant that this Golden Week would be extended to the first ever ten consecutive days off around the country. It was always my…

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Into the Mountains of Nakatsu, Oita for Vegan Curry and Coffee

If anyone is looking for a Rastafarian inspired Japanese restaurant, look no further than Satta Yard in Nakatsu. About a 40 minute drive from the city and into the quiet hills of Nakatsu will bring you to some of the healthiest (and tastiest) curries around. It might feel like a bit of a trek, but…

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Parent Observations and Roasting Yams with Neighbours

It’s almost the end of my fourth month working as an English teacher. In the beginning of May, I started three weeks of “Parent Observations” (P.O.s), where parents observe lessons delivered to their children by yours truly. It’s an opportunity for parents to see how their investments have been utilized, and I can’t help but…

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April Neighbourhood Walking Tour

There seems to be what feels like a sudden change in the air here in Usa city. With the warmer temperatures come blossoms and flowers of all shapes and colours, and the rice fields that were laid bare during the winter is now lush with thick, green waves of wheat. So, I believe it’s high…

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Showa no Machi

The change of weather into hotter days has given more opportunities to explore areas of Oita prefecture haven’t yet visited. That’s exactly what I did on a beautiful 22 degree Sunday. A 20 minute drive takes me to Bungotakada, where Showa no Machi (Showa-era Village) is. The popular shopping district preserves many nostalgic shops of…

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Rice Harvesting in October

In October of 2018, rice harvesting season was upon us here in Usa. One warm, sunny day in the still balmy heat of autumn, I decided to go out for a walk. Around the corner from the apartment are several rice fields, and I noticed a harvest in progress. After asking for permission to watch…

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