Blogs from Mie, Japan, Asia


Asia » Japan » Mie July 5th 2014

I don’t just use that title for dramatic effect. It is hot….It is Saharan hot and to make matters worse t’s not just hot it’s also humid. Life at the moment is like being in an oven but being baked slowly in a bain marie. So not only is one baked but one is lightly steamed as well. It’s just…well it’s just super…well as far as living inside a volcano goes anyway. Well it has been slightly longer than normal since my last update….which is possibly a good thing. One needs time for interesting anecdotes to pile up. It’s slow going now that work and life in general has settled into a routine. Anyway. I no longer live in a hollow cavern of an apartment. My weeks of waiting for my Nitori delivery are finally over. ... read more
Much better than a camp bed.
24" is like a cinema screen after a laptop
Best. Meal. Ever.

Asia » Japan » Mie » Suzuka April 28th 2014

Hey, hey thrill seekers. I'm back for another months worth of non sensical stories and anecdotes. Actually a lot has happened since last time; new house, new town, technically new job (but only because I've finished training), new academic year, new bike. New everything....except me...still same old me. Training finished about March 25th, which was swell....except the next day I had to be packed and ready to leave my house at 10am to get on a train to a different prefecture the rain....alone....with two 25kg bags....did I mention in the rain? Thankfully Jake from my group helped me out, so I owe him a big thanks. But the trip was fine and I arrived in Tsu basically unscathed. After some confusion with the cab driver I finally got to my new house. My big, empty, ... read more
My new home
Too bad this isn't my view

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

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