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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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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Grand Sumo Tournament

In November, the last major sumo tournament of the year takes place at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center. The wrestlers battle it out over 15 full days to decide the eventual champion. We were lucky enough to get tickets (thanks to a teacher in Usa City with an inside contact) and went to Fukuoka early Saturday…

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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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Ontayaki Pottery Village

We are lucky to be in Kyushu, as it homes some of the most famous pottery styles and techniques in all of Japan. One of these is Onta-yaki, a small town rich in decades of pottery history. On a cool, cloudy weekend day, we took a 2 hour drive to Onta. As we drive, we…

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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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Fukamido Cafe

On a Saturday morning, we head to a cafe called Fukamido, after being invited to their opening the previous night at an English conversation meet-up. Our ears perk up when they mention coffee, and we don’t want to miss the opportunity to try out good cafes. It’s pouring out, a perfect day for a coffee indoors.…

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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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Grape Picking in Ajimu

Oita is lush with various fruits, and one in particular are grapes. A 30 minute drive from Usa takes us to Ajimu, an area famous for grape growing and award-winning wineries. Within this district is 歩くように (Able to Walk), a grape growing house, that we (myself and other English teachers) decide to visit one rainy…

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Futago-ji Buddhist Temple (and an Epic Hike)

There are many small pleasures in life, and one particular luxury for me is owning my own car. No rental cars or expensive car shares – just spontaneous road trips at the drop of a hat. One quiet Sunday morning, that’s exactly what we did. After a brief conversation with a barista about local activities…

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Haruru Cafe

It’s another balmy, summer day in Oita, and another Saturday to go exploring for a cafe. Just off of Highway 10 is Haruru(はるる), a cafe that we’ve been eyeballing on Google maps. From photos, it has a “classic” Japanese-style cafe interior, with an emphasis of wood paneling and coffee bar. Entering Haruru feels like entering…

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