Public Enemy #1: Japan’s Humidity

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”.

Continue reading “Public Enemy #1: Japan’s Humidity”

School Alert: Watch out for BEARS!

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!”

Hiroshima and the Momiji Manju

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”