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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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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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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Work as an English Teacher

Hello! And apologies for the silence these last few months. As most of you may know (and some may not), I’m on an brand new adventure: I got a job as an English teacher!!! <Cue dramatic music here> “DAN DAN DANNNNNNN.” If you told me I would be working as a teacher a year ago,…

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First-time Futon Buyer’s Cautionary Tale

Ever since arriving in Japan, I had a romantic idea of sleeping on the floor on top of a futon bed. To clarify, I don’t mean the low, wooden sofa beds of the Western-style futons. I mean the real, lay-on-the-floor, heavy duvet sandwich with you in the middle. Whenever I visited a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn),…

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Potato Hoeing

A few weekends ago, new friends (Michi and Mac) from the gym invite us to go sweet potato hoeing. I’m curious to know what a Japanese farm looks like. On a Saturday morning, we meet Michi at the gym parking lot who drives us to Mac’s farm. Expecting to be driving a ways, I am…

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Cooking Rice in a Nabe and Local Seafood

Seafood is a surprisingly affordable product in grocery stores, and there’s a great variety available to us here. Not all attempts of cooking has been what I’d call a success, but it’s a fun experience nonetheless. One way we’ve learned to cook with seafood is with a hot pot, or nabe (なべ) as it is…

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Apartment Tour (Part Two)

Our apartment is in quiet neighbourhood with a view of the mountains and rice fields. The loudest thing we hear during the day are the kindergarteners adjacent to the apartment, and the ring of the school bell. However, we are also a convenient 5 minute walk away from one of the main streets of Oita, populated…

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Apartment Tour (Part One)

One of the pros of living in the countryside in Japan is the abundance of reasonably priced apartments. We found our apartment online on a Japanese website while in Vancouver, and were able to find several decent options. Eventually settling on one with a view of the rice fields, we put in our request with…

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Apartment Shopping Day

It’s apartment shopping day! I’ve been dreaming about this day even before arriving to Usa, and am excited to fill in some of the gaps that’s been felt while being here. There’s a few places in town, but we decide to head out to the neighbouring city of Nakatsu 30 minutes away, where our pick…

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In the Land of Green Ricefields

Hello, and welcome to my first blog post! After spending 2 weeks hopping from hostel to hostel, I’ve finally arrived in the small town of Usa-shi, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, where I will be staying for the next two and a half months. I’ll be living with my partner who will be starting work as an…

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