Monday, 30 April 2012

The Izu Life: The Best of Cherry Blossom Season

I think it's safe to say that cherry blossom season is officially over here in Shizuoka. Even the late-blooming blossoms have finished their cycle. Here are some snaps--a "best of" collection, if you will--of some of this spring's sakura highlights. 

Friday, 27 April 2012

T.G.I.F.: We're here, we're queer!

I wasn't actually researching activities for my TGIF post when I found out about this event this weekend. It was a friend who told me about this weekend's LGBT event in Tokyo, the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade. When I tried to Google some more information, I made some startling discoveries. So a little explanation, I think, is in order...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Izu Life: Surviving in an Asian Country?

The other day, a friend on Facebook sent me this message: 

And I decided to share my response to this question with all of you in the hope that you find something useful and constructive. So here we go...

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Tops Tuesdays!


A few years ago, on a holiday to Japan, my friends and I dubbed the things that hang from mobile phones "danglies." Since the invention of the iphone, iphone owners have sought a way to participate in the pointless practice of dangly acquisition and decoration. Japan has answered the call. In addition to these non-dangling plugs, there are also shiny ones that actually dangle too. Danglies can be bought at Loft and Tokyu Hands. Check out the awesomeness of danglies next time you are riding the subway on your fellow commuters' phones.

Not Tops.

Whatever this is. Seriously. It freaked me out. 

That is all.

Friday, 20 April 2012

T.G.I.F.: Shuzenji Free Foot Onsen Day


Just briefly: this event is happening tommorow (April 21st) just a few townships away from me in beautiful Shuzenji, known for its hot springs. The event celebrates the legend that a great monk on his travels, hundreds upon hundreds of years ago, spied a boy washing his blind father in the river in Shuzenji. The monk struck the ground near the river with his staff and there sprung forth a fountain of water with healing powers which healed the father's blindness. The villages built a free foot onsen in the place where the monk stuck the ground (though the exact location of the ground-striking is questionable as the free foot onsen has been moved repeatedly to accommodate urbanization). Check it out! Just google "湯汲み式" to see some great pics of the event!

To get to Shuzenji Town, take the Izuhakone Line from Mishima all the way to Shuzenji Station. When you get to Shuzenji Station, you can take the bus from terminal number 1 to the famous Shuzenji Onsen (Hot Spring) area (get off the bus at the stop outside of a Yamazaki convenience store, your ticket should cost 190yen, the bus has to do a massive u-turn to get to this bus stop so it should be obvious that you are at the right place when that happens). Walk a little further south (or follow the tourists) to the centre of Shuzenji Onsen town.

What are you doing this weekend?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Izu Life: Posta Collect Postcards

The following postcards from Posta Collect are available from your local post office in Japan so keep an eye out. Actually, every prefecture has its own series of cards highlighting local attractions. The following cards represent Shizuoka Prefecture...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Tops Tuesdays!


I found this video making the rounds on entitled "Superhero." The video was produced by an annonymous duo under the guise of "ANONS PROJECT" and their song makes for a catchy tune. The video includes footage from last year's 311 disaster in Tohoku, originally intended to highlight the ongoing recovery efforts of officials and volunteers still working in the area. The footage is interspersed with images and footage of Japanese superheroes (including, Anpanman, Sailor Moon, and Son Goku). Having largely been met with positive response, I decided to share it here...

Friday, 13 April 2012

T.G.I.F: Kamakura Festival

I decided to branch out this T.G.I.F thing a bit more and have decided to include events from around Japan more regularly. As such, this weekend there is a fantastic festival occurring in and around Kamakura's Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. So if you can peel yourself away from the cherry blossoms (the season of which is starting to wind down), you might find this festival could make for an interesting weekend. This weekend is the final chance to enjoy this festival so hop on it! 

Kamakura Festival promises to be bustling with parades of mikoshi (portable shrines) and musical bands. This Sunday you can enjoy a display of yabusame as a part of the festival. Yabusame is archery on horseback performed by men in traditional samurai garb. It is said that Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (a Japanese warlord, 1147 - 1199) came up with the idea for this festival with the aim of strengthening the mental power of his samurai warriors. The next large-scale yabusame Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine wont be until September.

Kamakura attracts large hoards of tourists on an average weekend, but with a festival thrown into the mix, you can expect Kamakura to be very busy! To get there, take the JR Tokaido Line to Ofuna then switch to the JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line (via the Yokosuka Line) to Kamakura. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is a 15 minute walk from Kamakura station's east exit. If you are interested in checking out the iconic daibutsu (big Buddha statue) afterwards, just take the Enoshima Electric Railway line from Kamakura station to Hase station (5 min) then walk to the Daibutsu (the area is clearly sign posted).

Enjoy! What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Travel Log: Our Weekend in Tokyo

Sorry this post is coming a bit late! This past weekend, I had the pleasure of joining my sister (all the way from Adelaide!) in Tokyo for a weekend before we headed back to Shizuoka. She'll only be here for a week but I'm hoping I can keep her occupied. Anyway, please enjoy some belated instagrams of what we got up to last weekend!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Tops Tuesdays!



When a Japanese person asks me...

That is all.

Friday, 6 April 2012

T.G.I.F.: Yep. Still Spring

You should probably check out my previous TGIF post if you are looking for recommendations on hanami spots in Shizuoka. Yes, the cherry blossom-viewing festivals are still rolling out and this weekend promises to ring in the peak of the season in style. Meanwhile, a friend let me know that the following hanami festival is taking place in Yoshiwara, next door to Fuji and the famous mountain of the same name: Yoshiwara Sakura Matsuri.

Maybe you can see Mt. Fuji peeking out in the background of this photo. The festival promises some of the best views of the iconic mountain and local cherry blossoms. Check out the link for spectacular images taken recently of what this festival has to offer. Happy Hanami everyone!

Where will you be pitching your picnic blanket this hanami season?

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Tops Tuesdays!


One of my students that just graduated sent me an email today and tells me this is the new hottest song in Japan at the moment: ナチュラルに恋して (nachyuraruni aishite : "Love Me Naturally") by the seemingly harmless band, Perfume. Nearly 10.5 million views on YouTube can't lie. So, "naturally," that makes it tops this week. Now, that said, allow me to completely undermine everything I just wrote...


Apparently a large group of band members from the all-girl Japanese pop sensation AKB48 were sent on some kind of peace/cultural convoy to Washington, USA recently. I'm not usually up to speed on everything that happens in the US but I'm pretty sure that its not the best idea to send a bunch of girls dressed in skimpy pseudo school uniforms and lingerie-inspired frilly outfits whose selling factor is not so much their monotonous singing voices but their cutesy looks, ability to multiply endlessly, and propensity towards bi-curiosity (just look at this recent commercial for Puccho candy if you don't believe me, or maybe this will convince you of the ideals these girls represent) to a country A) that doesn't know what AKB48 is, and B) whose feminist ideals will more likely be incredibly offended by said peace/cultural envoys. I mean look at this girl in the photo above: she's decked out in the weirdest outfit topped off with a mini top hat at a jaunty angle. I'm pretty sure she is just confusing a lot of people right there. What was the Japanese government thinking?? If you are from America and your tax dollars paid for this peace/cultural mission, I'm sorry.

Okay, I'm done now. Got any ideas for future Tops Tuesdays posts?

Monday, 2 April 2012

Very Inspiring Blogger Awards: And the winners are...

Elaborate April Fools joke or genuine accolade: I'm still not sure but this morning I woke to find that Alison over at Haikugirl's Japan had decided to include me in her "Very Inspring Blogger Awards." Thank you very much, Alison! I am tentatively honoured (it could still be an April Fools)! is a labour of love but also a mechanism keeping me tethered to sanity. I enjoy writing and hope to find a career in writing in the future. For now, I plan to share my experiences traveling around Japan and living in Shizuoka. I am very touched that anyone would think to 'award' my mindless babbling.

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