Blogs from Saitama, Japan, Asia

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Asia » Japan » Saitama » Chichibu March 23rd 2014

It was inevitably one of the coldest nights of my life. At around 11pm I found myself a little spot on a baseball pitch. I camped up and it seemed mild enough before snuggling into my sleeping bag. The fact of the matter is I usually work up such a profound sweat setting up camp that the climes around me can be quite deceptive. But I was also content enough by the fact that I was wearing 8 layers of clothing. The cold couldn’t possibly antagonise me. Fast forward 2 hours from my initial naivety and my water bottle had ice flakes in it. My body had spent the best part of 20 minutes trying to convince myself to get up, pack everything away and get moving. But my mind was telling me otherwise, trying to ... read more
Urban Green Tea plantation

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Chichibu March 22nd 2014

As I sit in a supermarket canteen at 9pm writing up the days footnotes I feel absolutely trashed. A hot coffee from the vending machine might have perked me up, I pressed the wrong button however ordering myself an iced coffee. I’d had very little sleep the night before in Kawagoe due to the cold and tonight would be no exception under the shadow of a boisterous looking Mt. Buko. As soon as the sun submerges beyond the horizon a spell is cast across the land turning it into what feels like an ice planet. My marbles cling together tighter than ever before, like long lost North Korean relatives. The day started pleasantly enough however, daylight allowing me to have a cycle tour around Kawagoe. It almost seems quaint for a city, but still somehow boasts ... read more
Kurazukuri Street - Kawagoe
Chichibu
Kawagoe Kitain Temple

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Kawagoe March 21st 2014

Saitama prefecture sits northwest of Tokyo, so in an effort to reach Chichibu in the mountain range again to the far northwest of the prefectural border I went at it in what will soon become my natural anti-clockwise fashion. It made sense to approach Saitama first like this as when my journey / if my journey should draw to a close it will do so with the likes of Shizouka (Mt. Fuji) and Kanagawa (Yokohama), so after such gratuitous eye candy it would seem a drag to venture all the way over to Saitama, commonly known by folk as ‘dasaitama’ (uncooltama) due to its lack of attractions. So the draw was minimal. So it was now, later or never in which to venture around the prefecture. Never not actually being an option I chose ... read more
Kawaguchi
My 30% chance of precipitation on its way
Car Park

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Chichibu January 5th 2014

The shukubo One of the most rewarding things we did this trip to Japan was a temple stay (shukubo) at Taiyoji temple. We had done a temple stay at Koyasan before but this was a much more satisfying experience. Not that we didn’t enjoy our stay at the temple on Mt Koya, on the contrary, but there is a reason why the Taiyoji shukubo is considered the best of all shukubo experiences in Japan. Imagine an isolated temple on the top of a mountain in a glorious area of Japan and only 2 hours away from Tokyo. This is not the endless urban area of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka or Hiroshima anymore, this is not the well-trodden route most tourists in Japan stick to for even repeat visits, but this is the Japan I would like all ... read more
Taiyoji entrance
Guardian spirit

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Chichibu January 5th 2014

Chichibu Within a mere 90 minutes of Ikebukuro station in Tokyo, it is surprising that photographers' and hikers' paradise Chichibu isn't discovered by more tourists yet. The rural town of Chichibu is located on a plateau surrounded by mountains and the train ride quickly gets very interesting once you have left the urban jungle that is Tokyo. Chichibu used to be well known for silk production but never really recovered from the crash in raw silk prices during the early Meiji period which led to the Chichibu rebellion. The surrounding mountains and the resulting isolation has resulted in the preservation of lots of traditional customs. Chichibu is best known for its important 34 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage and its many festivals. The town itself feels like it is still stuck in the Showa period with loads of ... read more
Temple #12
Temple #22
Temple #30

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Asia » Japan » Saitama » Kawagoe October 1st 2013

I had today off because it was "Tokyo Citizens Day", so Rani and I went to check out Kawagoe, or "Little Edo", which was supposedly a half hour away from central Tokyo. Well, given our location and that by "central Tokyo" they meant Ikebukuro (which is not central Tokyo lol), it actually took us closer to an hour and a half to get there. Still, we left early enough that it was alright, and we were excited to see what the area had in store. Getting off at Kawagoe Station put us nowhere near the area we wanted to be, so we did some walking, which certainly wasn't bad. The weather was gray and it kept intermittently raining, but it wasn't enough to be really annoying and it WAS enough to keep the big crowds away. ... read more
kawagoe 012
kawagoe 013
kawagoe 015

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Kawagoe October 15th 2010

...and I didn't sound like an idiot!! In fact, the man (who is a staff member at TIU), told me 「あなたのはつおんはすごくきれい!」or "Anata no hatsuon wa sugoku kirei!" OOOOORRRRRRR "You're Japanese pronunciation is very pretty/clean/good!" (There are different meanings for the word "kirei") I was blown away. I had actually briefly met this man once before with a Japanese friend, Marina, but I didn't get past "hello" with him the first time. Obviously, when he approached me and said hello, I was already shocked that he remembered me... but then he started asking me about whether I'd studied Japanese before, and when: I understood everything he said, and I was able to reply in what I guess sounded to him like well-pronounced child's talk. Now, the Japanese are famous for their politeness, and also for their assumptions ... read more
Fuji: Morning After
Kenji
Riei

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Kawagoe September 5th 2010

Hey everyone! I can already tell that writing these blog entries is harder for me. The free time that I would have been spending on it is now being spent on hanging out with either friends or my host family, which is great! So far, the blog has been a great coping tool for dumping a bunch of feelings and potential frustrations when I am going through culture shock moments and feeling a bit empty. However, right now, I'm finding enough to keep me occupied that I'm not as likely to want to just hide away and write for an hour... except for right now. Expect these to come about once every week, where I will recap what has happened, my loves, my frustrations, and my deepest desires (probably not those actually...) So! Disclaimer over! I ... read more
Jun!!!
Me and Kaori
Going to TIU

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Shiki September 5th 2010

Round 2 go! Ok, as promised I'm getting another message out to you, and this time it didn't take four months to prepare. Let's get right into what I introduced at the end of the last blog. So as the summer started and the festivals began across Japan I was in full adventure mode. It was really heating up in April here in June and we had already planned a thousand things to do over the new few months. It was tough to remember that I wasn't just on vacation and that I had to work five or six days of each week, since my focus was often on all the sporting events, trips and parties that were jammed into any free time I had. But that's not to say that my school wasn't a huge ... read more
Top of Mt. Fuji!
Awesome Crew
Japan vs. Korea soccer match!

Asia » Japan » Saitama » Shiki September 1st 2010

Wow, I can't believe the last time I wrote one of these was way back at the beginning of May. So, first of all I'd like to say that I'm sorry and I owe you all an explanation for the lack of bloggage. So here it is: Ummm...It's too hot? Hahaha ok so that was a horrible reason. It's true (in fact the hottest summer in memory for almost everyone I have spoken with in Japan), but no reason to leave you all hanging. To tell the truth it was a chain of events that overwhelmed me. That, and the fact that my perfectionist/procrastinator side dominated for a while and kept me from just sending a dang message out. Well enough of that guy, the real Sloan has taken over again and he can't wait to ... read more
New Manager Party!
50 Yen Highballs...ya we don't remember much!




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