May / June 2020 Journal: Fireflies, Umeshu, and Rice Fields

For Deanna It’s been a varied last few months here in Kyushu. Schools have started back on their usual schedule, seasons are quickly changing to summer, and new life abounds in the fields all across the prefecture. I’ve been actively trying to get as much out of my free time as I can while I…

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Exploring Wakasa: Kyoto’s Influence on Fukui’s Obama City and the Wild Monkeys at Hibiki Terraced Rice Fields

Article originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. “GAH! MONKEYS!!!” I stopped dead in my tracks as I stumbled into a group of wild monkeys at Hibiki Terraced Rice Fields. I think I surprised them as much as they did me,…

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Exploring Tango Part 2: A Bridge to Heaven at Amanohashidate

Article originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. Japan is a country of lists. Top five cities. Top ten shrines. Top 100 ramen joints… you get the picture. So it didn’t surprise me when I started researching the famous sight…

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Exploring Tango Part 1: Feeling Small at Maizuru Red Brick Park, Kyoto

Article originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. In the beautiful stretch of coastal scenery in northern Kyoto prefecture (京都府), lies a port town of lovely red brick buildings at Maizuru (舞鶴) Brick Park. Facing the Sea of Japan (日本海), Maizuru was originally a fishing…

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Exploring Tajima Part 2: A Private Spa and Local Flavours at Kinosaki Onsen

Article originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. I might not have been the image of grace stomping along in my inch-high geta sandals. But it completed my yukata and onsen hopping outfit, as I clip-clopped along the willow-lined canal of Kinosaki Onsen (城崎温泉). With the…

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Exploring Tajima Part 1: My Soba Eating Tour in Izushi Castle Town

Article originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. “Itadakimasu!“ With my stomach already dangerously at capacity, I dove into my last order of soba (buckwheat) noodles in the Japanese castle town of Izushi (出石). As my favourite go-to cold noodle dish during the summer months in…

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Sakura Blossoms, Self-Isolation and Love Handles in Japan

This post a little out of character for me, as I’ve focused more on writing articles about my travels within Kyushu. At the same time, I figured that this was good time as any to post a general update-on-life-in-Japan article. This past month of March and early April has seen some shifts in Japan –…

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Exploring Tamba Part 3: A Stay in the Traditional Japanese Home of Umetan FUJI, Hyogo

Originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. “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…

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Exploring Tamba Part 2: Keeping the Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive in Tamba Sasayama Castle Town

Originally written for Voyapon / Part of a 4-day trip to mainland Japan exploring Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukui prefectures in January, 2020. 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…

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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 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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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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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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