Pilgrimage to the Sea and Mountains – Part 2

Tonight is my second night staying at the big Japanese house in Kii-Tanabe. Last night I was the only guest, but tonight there’s 2 other families staying here with me–all Japanese–for a total of 6 other guests (4 adults, 2 kids). One of the kids is actually screaming in the next room at the moment. The walls are surprisingly thick, though, so even though I … Continue reading Pilgrimage to the Sea and Mountains – Part 2

Pilgrimage to the Sea and Mountains – Day 1

I think this might have been my longest hiatus from this site now. I really fell off of my once a week posting plan. For the past few months I’ve been slowly transitioning from my job teaching English at a public high school in Tokyo to being a full-time freelancer. So for maybe a month and a half that basically meant working almost 2 jobs … Continue reading Pilgrimage to the Sea and Mountains – Day 1

Kanazawa Train Travels – Part 2

We’re now on the second to last day of our trip—we’ll be riding the long local trains back to Tokyo tomorrow morning. The scene outside our current train is the thick blue haze of dusk, with dampness sinking into the fields and onto the black thatched roofs of the little Japanese houses scattered around, or else hovering around the great mountain backdrop and choking it … Continue reading Kanazawa Train Travels – Part 2

Kanazawa Train Travels – Part 1

I’m starting this post not in the best place for blog posting– sitting on the awkward half-seats in the middle of the train corridor next to the door. The area we’re passing through right now is so inaka (countryside) that the doors don’t automatically open when the train stops, and in fact few passengers of this four-car train are alighting at any of the in-between stops, and only … Continue reading Kanazawa Train Travels – Part 1

Northern Treks (Day 3)

Well I begin this post back in Tokyo, with a full day of lazy recuperating behind me. It was actually unbelievably warm in Tokyo yesterday– a high of 75 degrees, and stunningly sunny the whole day long. Unfortunately for me I hadn’t slept much at all the previous night, so rather than walking around Kichijoji and drinking in the gorgeous sunshine, I threw open all the … Continue reading Northern Treks (Day 3)

Northern Treks: Iwate (Day 1)

Well I start this post in much different surroundings from my last one. I’m sitting on the tatami floor of a beautiful Japanese-style room (right next to the flame-burning space heater, as there is no central heating). The room is divided into 2 identical 6-tatami mat rooms (~10 sq ft each) by a beautiful fabric sliding door, painted with a simple Japanese landscape (currently open so that … Continue reading Northern Treks: Iwate (Day 1)

The White Wonderland of Wakkanai

As we enter into the final days of July, we’re finally hitting those excruciatingly hot Tokyo summer days that I remember from three years ago when I studied Japanese for a summer at ICU. The thick, choking humidity immediately engulfs you when you step outside like the steam of a sauna. I think yesterday it just barely pushed over 100º F (37.8º C) for a … Continue reading The White Wonderland of Wakkanai