Zest and Hot Water (A Trip to Matsuyama)

People travel to find themselves, don’t they? Well, I get the feeling I quite like being lost. I’m gearing up to travel before Japan before long, and I’m in a weird transitory phase at the moment. Having trouble focussing on anything, having trouble relaxing, having trouble kicking back and enjoying life as it is. I’m sure this too will pass.

Anyway, in my turmoil, having finished at NOVA, I thought I’d set sail across the sea to Shikoku. The smallest and by far the least travelled of Japan’s four islands, Shikoku is nonetheless a centre of Buddhist pilgrimage, and Matsuyama is its largest city. Continue reading “Zest and Hot Water (A Trip to Matsuyama)”

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One Year in Japan

A year ago today, I stepped off a plane into the feverish Osaka summer. I got lost, failed to understand conversations and had to flee the city for a day because it was all too much. Battling the elements, braving the rush hour subway, trying to learn the basics of conversation and culture. Looking at my first photos of Japan today didn’t merely stir a warm glow; it catapulted me headfirst into an intense flashback of emotion. Continue reading “One Year in Japan”

Lewis Waits for Sushi (A Tokyo Story, Part Two)

We woke up late, groggy and discombobulated, after a night out at Vent in Tokyo. The place was interesting and all, with its audiophile soundsystem, its concrete monoliths, its orderly drinks queues and its unexpected houseplants. On the other hand, I’ve never really liked minimalism, or techno music and its many bastard offspring, and the whole place took itself a tad seriously for my taste. It was an experience worth having, I reckon, but probably just the once. Continue reading “Lewis Waits for Sushi (A Tokyo Story, Part Two)”

Metropolis 一番 (A Tokyo Story, Part One)

Up to this point, it may have escaped your notice that Tokyo is quite big.

Depending on how you count, the city has anything from thirteen million to thirty-eight million people, which means that the hair-splitting of urban geographers can add or subtract the entire population of Australia. When Tokugawa Ieyasu chose the site as the headquarters of his new eastern lands, Edo (now Tokyo) was a small fishing village, but it ballooned quickly; a hundred years later it was probably the biggest city on Earth, a title it’s held on and off since then. Continue reading “Metropolis 一番 (A Tokyo Story, Part One)”

Land of 10,000 Temples (a Visit to Kyoto)

Greetings, y’all. I usually like to start off my blogs with some unrelated entrée, but today, let’s cut to the chase. I went to Kyoto to meet my friend and former colleague Tom; here are some musings about my trip. Continue reading “Land of 10,000 Temples (a Visit to Kyoto)”

The Far Coast, Part 2: Matsue

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I moved house today, saying a fond farewell to Itsukaichi by way of bean stew, noodles and fried chicken at a Burmese restaurant. From now, I’ll live in the city centre, close to the heart of Naka-ku, and even closer to my favourite bar. But I don’t want to detain you with the details right now. Let’s flash back to last week, and my trip to Shimane. Continue reading “The Far Coast, Part 2: Matsue”

The Far Coast, Part 1: Izumo

This week, I took a short trip to Shimane Prefecture. I stayed for two nights and planned to document it all in a single blog. But then I went to an original, sengoku-era Japanese castle, and there’s no way I’m summing that up in a couple of paragraphs1. Therefore, I’ve taken the unspeakably decadent step of splitting my travelogue into two parts. So here it is- my first double album. (Apologies for the filler: Keith insisted we put his track with the stupid clarinet solo on there.) Continue reading “The Far Coast, Part 1: Izumo”

Poison Island

Was that a good week or a terrible one? I think it was a good one, even if it did start with me missing my shift, dashing manically to work, buying some ill-fitting shoes and then getting fined for my sins. True story. Along the way, it took in my first Shinnenkai (Japanese party to celebrate the nascent year), where I tried horse sashimi with fiery wasabi and soy sauce. On Wednesday, I talked hip hop and Paul Simon with a colleague from Okayama and the owner of our favourite bar, and on Sunday, I went bouldering, an activity I’m determined to master one of these days. Continue reading “Poison Island”

Fireworks and Gravestones

I was writing the wrong blog, basically. For the last week, I’ve been straining to finish an article to answer the perennial question of my return: ‘what surprised you the most when you moved to Japan?’ But it’s a difficult question to answer, and I wasn’t getting much inspiration. Sometimes you don’t write well because you don’t know what to say. Continue reading “Fireworks and Gravestones”