After being back at work for a couple of weeks, my girlfriend and I took a day trip to Ōkunoshima, also know as “Rabbit Island”. Located between Kure and Mihara, you have to take a 10 minute ferry trip from Tadanoumi to the island. Ōkunoshima has become increasingly popular over the last five years with the help of social media. My Facebook page is constantly being littered with the likes of BuzzFeed and other similar sites showcasing the “cuteness of Rabbit Island”. With it being in the same prefecture as us, we bought our lunches at the convenience store, along with cabbage and carrots for the rabbit, and headed there. Continue reading “Journey to Rabbit Island”
“What popular foods does the UK have?”, asks the same teacher every month. And I always respond with “Fish and Chips, Roast Beef and Indian Curry”. Curry has become a quintessential dish for British people stemming back to the 1800s. In fact, Chicken Tikka Masala has been labelled as “a true British national dish” by many with its origins in Glasgow. Strangely, I didn’t really enjoy spicy food until I was about fifteen. Some would call it blaspheme especially since my birthplace has the title of 2016’s Curry Capital of the UK. Takeout nights would be a pain for Dad, as he’d have to make two stops; The Bharat for curry and Casa Pizza for my solitary pizza. But now Indian food is one of my favourite cuisines.
Go into any Japanese supermarket’s “Fruit and Vegetable” section and I guarantee that you’ll find a stack of kiwifruits larger than that of cherries, apples and oranges combined. Over the last couple of years overall fruit sales have fallen by 10% in Japan. But according to the Fresh Fruit Portal, kiwifruit sales have grown by a third in two seasons. In fact the Japanese market accounts for 16% of global sales.
In Japan, fruit isn’t cheap. It’s actually a bloody ripoff. A single apple can cost anywhere from 150 yen (£1.02) to 400 yen (£2.72). Meanwhile a decent melon can cost up to 3000 yen (£20) and even higher. But do these steep prices account for a tastier fruit? Not really, and that’s why many Japanese people don’t buy much fresh fruit these days. Even cakes topped with strawberries are noticeably more expensive than those without.
We’ve just had our first typhoon of the year. Nothing serious, but this entire week has been so bloody humid and wet. This is typical of Japan’s wet season (tsuyu 梅雨) and its the absolutely worst. After living here for four years, I’ve yet to get accustomed to the country’s summer climate. And I don’t think I ever will. From June to September, Japan experiences everything; increasing humidity, heatwaves, tropical storms, typhoons and migrating jellyfish.
Yesterday was absolute nightmare. The trains were delayed by forty minutes, even though it wasn’t particularly raining hard. I missed the school bus, which normally gives me a lift up the hill to the school. So I arrived as if I’d just climbed Mt.Fuji and trekked through the Amazon Rainforest ; a sweaty, wet mess. The teacher greeted me with “It’s a bit hot today, right?”, I sarcastically replied with “Ah, no. I’m fine, thanks”.
After finishing class, I received a “Public Announcement” letter from the local Board of Education. Using my limited kanji ability, I was able to decipher that I definitely needed to improved my kanji ability, and that there was a bear wondering around the local area.
Being from the UK, the only animals that “terrify” the British public are either the rogue foxes attacking babies or false widow spiders, both making “appropriate headline news” for the tabloid press. Here in Japan, mother nature seems a bit more hostile and sinister. From giant huntsman spiders to hissing centipedes, or the abundance of mosquitoes and the occasional venomous viper, Japan isn’t all kimonos, cherry blossom and cutesy characters. In fact recently, Japan’s population of bears has made the headlines, and not for doing something adorable. Continue reading “School Alert: Watch out for BEARS!”
If you have lived or traveled around Japan, then you will have undoubtably sampled Japanese wagashi at some point. Usually enjoyed with green tea, wagashi are traditional confectionary that have been an iconic piece of Japanese food culture since the Edo Period (1603-1868). There is a dizzying amount of variety, ranging from Dorayaki to the bewildering world of Mochi, far from the realms of Butter Shortbread and Victoria Sponge Cake found back home.
As I previously explained, Hiroshima is famous for its variation on okonomiyaki. But when it comes to sweet treats, there’s nothing more popular than momiji manju. Every time I board the afternoon train, I can expect to see at least five people carrying bags containing souvenir boxes of them. And if you happen to be a salaryman taking a business trip to Hiroshima, you’ll definitely be expected to bring some back to the office. I usually buy them as a gift when travelling to friends’ houses. It’s a safe option if you’ve no idea what to get. Continue reading “Hiroshima and the Momiji Manju”
I go to an evening Japanese Language class once-a-week. It’s run by local volunteers who spend two hours of their own time teaching foreigners the language. We use textbooks, but I primarily use it for Japanese conversational practice. So each “lesson” boils down to talking about random things, much to the chagrin of one of the my fellow classmates.
Occasionally we’ll drop the textbooks and experience a part of traditional Japanese culture. Today we tried our hands at Japanese Flower Arranging (生け花). I’m no artist and have little understanding about flowers or horticulture, but I think I did a pretty good job. I kept it simple, remembering that saying “less is more” (here being the only situation where that advice seems relevant). The flower sensei didn’t even have to adjust anything on my display, unlike everyone else’s. Hahaha.