My first experience of sumo

It was most definitely serendipity times two; firstly to discover that one of the six annual sumo tournaments in Japan is held in Nagoya, and secondly to find that it would take place during my stay.  I felt that there must be a ticket with my name on it – but just to make sure,…

Published
Categorised as Japan

University life in Japan

Before I arrived, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about teaching in a women’s university.  How archaic, I thought, to have such institutions in the 21st Century in a first world country.  But now that I’ve experienced just how much of a man’s world it is in Japan, and how women are supposed to…

Published
Categorised as Japan

The Ginger Ninja

I’ve had quite a cultural weekend, one way and another. I went to Kyoto because I had a ticket to see a kabuki play at the Minamiza theatre, which is the home of kabuki.  It’s a wonderful old building, which has been hosting kabuki performances for 400 years – – and I was pleased to…

Published
Categorised as Japan

Bears and eel chips

Shogun Ieyasu was a canny chap.  When he became Shogun in 1603 he forced all the great lords to spend every second year with him in Edo, or Tokyo as it is now.  This meant that they spent huge amounts of time and money travelling with their vast retinues along the road between Kyoto and…

Published
Categorised as Japan

Investigating the Nagoya food scene

Every country has its own love-it-or-hate-it foodstuff.  In England it’s Marmite, in Malaysia it’s Durian, and in Japan the polarizing comestible is called natto.  It’s made from fermented soya beans and, according to Wikipedia, ‘is an acquired taste  because of its powerful smell, strong flavor and slimy, sticky texture.’ After coping with the smell of…

Published
Categorised as Japan

Tokyo food tours

I’ve come to appreciate, during my travels, that signing up for a food tour in a new place pays back dividends.  The guide takes you to all sorts of wonderful hidden-away spots, explains the whole food scene and generally equips you with enough know-how to go solo afterwards.  So when I got to Tokyo I…

Published
Categorised as Japan

The dawn of a new era

The new Emperor of Japan ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne today which signalled the first day of a new era.  Whilst they do use the year 2019, they also use their own system based on the number of years the Emperor has been on the throne.  When I got my ID card, I was surprised to…

Published
Categorised as Japan

The obedience of rain

  In Japan, if the weather forecast says it’s going to rain, then it rains, and if the forecast says it won’t rain, then it doesn’t. Having spent time in both Norfolk and Malaysia, where it rains if it feels like it, and nobody has any idea what the weather will be like in five…

Published
Categorised as Japan

My new favourite city – Kyoto

I’ve had three weekends in Japan so far, and have chosen to spend two of them in Kyoto;  I absolutely adore it there.  Everything is exquisite – the temples, the gardens, the little streets with wooden houses, the little waterways lined with cherry trees, the tiny craft studios and cafes – it has to be…

Published
Categorised as Japan

Getting into hot water

One of the strangest things about North Island is suddenly coming across a patch of ground that’s smoking – or hearing a glooping and plopping noise coming from a muddy puddle, which is bubbling away happily all by itself. The volcanic hot springs are wonderful.  You can either pay to go to the pools –…

Hobbits

Hobbiton was at the top of my list for NZ North Island. Having seen lots of countryside locations where Lord of the Rings had been filmed, I was now keen to see something that had been built especially for the film. Hobbiton is big business, with 3,000 people a day visiting in peak season.  Although,…

Mad museums on South Island

I have to say that some of the strangest museums I’ve been to are here in New Zealand. They have the world’s only steampunk museum on South Island, with some very unusual displays … sort of Dr Who meets Narnia in Steptoe’s yard – But the descriptions were the highlight for me. This – if…