Blogs from Mie, Japan, Asia


Asia » Japan » Mie » Iga-Ueno September 29th 2013

Saturday was a late start because the sword shop didn’t open until 10. I headed down there at about 10:30 and realised that I had walked right past it last Monday! To be fair though, it was right across the road from Nijo castle which had my attention at the time. The shop was very small, but when I arrived there was nobody else looking at the swords. The lady had very little English but we managed to communicate well enough. On display they had a range of swords, from genuine samurai swords (for $10,000+) to replicas. Needless to say, I was looking at the replicas. Not just because of the price, but also because it turns out that genuine swords require a lot of paperwork to export – mostly to ensure they are not national ... read more
My new sword
The outer moat
Walls over the moat

Asia » Japan » Mie » Iga-Ueno January 30th 2011

On my final day in Japan, I hung out in Iga and finally got to watch the Ninja show. It was amazing watching ninja's fight each other, demonstrate how to use weapons, and even have kids come up to hold katanas. We saw several demonstrations for using shurikan, which come in several shapes and sizes. Shurikan are usually dipped in poison, so that the small wound quickly becomes lethal. One of the ninja's working that day, I felt sorry for them having to wear such thin clothing in freezing weather. The younger ninja demonstrated how to throw one, two, and three shurikan at once. I'm not sure how the technique works, but the method of throwing results in all shurikan striking equidistant from each other in a straight line. We also saw a live demonstration (planned ... read more

Asia » Japan » Mie » Iga-Ueno January 28th 2011

Anyone who has ever seen or read about the ninja adventures of Naruto Uzumaki has certainly seen an episode featuring Choji eating copious amounts of meat at the yaki niku restaurant. For the rest of us, 焼肉 (Yaki Niku) literally translates into “grilled meat” and it acts like an open fire version of fondue in the States. It’s rather expensive, and time consuming, so the restaurants are usually large with several compartments that can be open or shut off with sliding wood doors. The smells of seasoned charcoals and grilling meats greets you as you enter the door, The restaurant we visited was set with large, traditionally styled rooms. You removed your shoes at the door, and then walked around barefoot on the cold wooden floors. Once we were called to eat, we were shown to ... read more
Meal Offering

Asia » Japan » Mie » Iga-Ueno January 27th 2011

Home of the Ninja Iga is considered the home of the ninja, and their history is intertwined with the history and developments of ninjas. It was a cold day, and my meanderings through ancient forests guarded by castles and training temples was crisp indeed. There was practically no one around and I soon saw why – nearly everything was closed until the weekend. After hearing this bit of disappointing news (I was planning on spending the entire day in Iga to save some money on train fair), I decided to walk through the ninja museum. This wasn’t like a typical American museum, but was instead an old ninja house. It had trap doors, secrete observation rooms, places to hide weapons and tools, revolving walls, the whole nine yards. There were many women donning traditional ninja ... read more
Iga-Ueno Castle
Iga-Ryu Museum (Ninja House)
Buddhist shrine

Asia » Japan » Mie » Ise December 9th 2010

(Blogged on the 11th of December but entry posted under the 9th of December - dates have been adjusted accordingly.) We were recommended to go to the Ise Shrine by my Japanese tutor. It is apparently the oldest shrine built by the first emperor (I am recalling this from memory) and is always visited by every subsequent emperor. That literally took up the whole day before we headed to another temple - the Osu Kannon temple in Nagoya before calling it a day. First we had breakfast in one of the restaurants in Nagoya station. I was pretty shocked to discover that smoking was allowed in the restaurant which was air-conditioned. Ash trays were provided on every table (they were very clean - must have been scrubbed with hot water) and i found it peculiar to ... read more
breaskfast menu


Asia » Japan » Mie October 3rd 2010

It's been a while since I've posted! Life has been pretty busy here (like insanely busy!) but I promise there will be posts coming soon! Tonight was the Souhei Matsuri at Yunoyama Onsen and Halley was kind enough to invite me and a few others (Payal and Angel) to join in! We got to be official shrine carriers! How cool is that? After getting to the mountain we were ushered into this room where we changed into our super cool festival attire - a black and purple jacket, yellow sash, tabi and a purple and yellow headband. We all looked very cool :) We were carrying the girls' shrine up the mountain and the boys shrine would arrive separate. The ceremony started with a quick blessing by a Buddhist priest. Then, we had a few quick ... read more

Asia » Japan » Mie September 3rd 2010

I've wished so many times this travel could come true, and here I am. I've been 21 days in Japan. I took my plane from Paris and landed on the morning at Kansai airport, near Osaka at 8h30 am more or less. The flight's 11 hours killed me but I was enough strong to go to Matsusaka, in Mie prefecture were my japanese friend lived and where I was supposed to stay on my first week. Matsusaka is a calm place. I had the opportunity to live in a Japanese style house with a japanese family. The dad collected a sort of strange bugs with long legs. I hate bugs but I have to admit that they made a very beautiful sound at night. Looked like little bells. The mum gave me breakfast every morning. She ... read more
Ise Shrine

Asia » Japan » Mie » Yokkaichi June 19th 2010

Well, the lull has ended. Those two weeks between winter and summer that are gorgeous, sunny and perfectly temperate are behind me and in their place have been left the sticky, muggy, unbearable heat that goes along with Japan's rainy season. It's impossible to explain exactly how bad the weather gets. You really have to be here to experience it. Let's just say that I've never had my pants stick to my body while sitting in a chair the way they did today. You sweat, constantly, and nothing helps. For whatever reason our BOE has established the arbitrary date of July 1st as the day we can turn on the A/C - despite the fact that the past couple of days have been over 30C. Ugh. Trying to teach half comatose students is not the easiest ... read more

Asia » Japan » Mie » Yokkaichi May 2nd 2010

I woke up still sick, and was in no rush to get up. Two of my friends had already left to get breakfast at a beef bowl shop, so while they were out I took my sweet time getting ready (and enjoyed a bit of Sunday morning cartoons). By around 10am we checked out of our amazing hostel and headed to Mie on what was a beautiful warm, sunny day. From Nara, we took the train to Iga-Ueno station and from there we jumped on a private train line to go to Iga City. The train going to the city was decorated like a ninja, which made it obvious we were heading in the right direction! (We were a bit concern with the lack of civilization around.) It didn't take long to get to our station, ... read more
Ninja Train
Ninja Train and Ninjas
Welcome to Iga!

Asia » Japan » Mie April 12th 2010

The beginning of April is Hanami season in Japan and I don't think it's any sort of exaggeration to say that the Japanese (and foreigners) look forward to this time of year more than any other. The hanami (sakura and plum trees in full bloom) are stunning. I was lucky enough to see them in my own area, as well as near Tomida Stn., and then in Kuwana, Kyoto, and Koyasan (Wakayama Prefecture). It's very popular for people to go in groups to parks for a picnic under the trees. This generally includes lots of food (sometimes even a BBQ!) and alcohol. I went to three or four of these picnics and they were all a great time! Some places even have a special festival to celebrate the hanami. Near Tomida Stn. on the Kintetsu Line ... read more
Hanami at Night

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