Back to the UK

I am now on my way to the airport,courtesy of the Odakyu Bus Company.It’s a dull, dreary day in Tokyo – a day that matches my mood completely. The last three months have gone very quickly. The expected brick wall of homesickness just didn’t happen. In fact,quite the reverse. I genuinely feel far more relaxed,…

Welcoming 2009

The New Year celebrations began in earnest for us with the traditional bowl of soba noodles at midnight – said to ensure long life – followed by a visit to our local jinja. Drawn by a combination of spiritual need and the prospect of free sake, we donned coats and headed out into the chill…

Farewell to 2008

Last night we bid farewell to 2008 in traditional style with a midnight visit to the local jinja, or Shinto shrine. By stepping through the ring and approaching the shrine itself, we are purified of all negativity and can begin the New Year refreshed and reborn. Today is a day of reflection on the events…

Old Christmas, New Year

Christmas is done and dusted for another year, and despite my pre-Crimbo gloom, it turned out to be quite an enjoyable one. Perhaps prompted by a bit more explanation of the deeper meaning that Christmas carries with it for us gaijin, the wife made a big effort to make it a fun time for all…

Great expectations

I have just returned home from my first Bonenkai – the Japanese version of the Western Xmas party. Bonenkai means “forget the year”. While there is no tradition of Christmas here, as my last post explains in great detail, great store is placed in the year-end/New Year. So it’s a time to bring the year…

an Englishman in Osaka

 the gaijin dilemma It’s the stuff of nightmares for the gaijin in Japan. The thought of it is enough to send them running to the toilet. The reality of it is enough to cause profuse sweating and the breakout of an itchy rash in the nether regions. The dilemma is whether to acknowledge fellow gaijin…

Mt Fuji at sunset

We visited my beloved J-Mart DIY store this afternoon. On coming out, I was surprised to see Fuji san silouetted against the evening sky. It’s not often that you get to see the mountain due to the cluttered skyline and photochemical haze that hangs over the city during the day. My shaky picture taken on…

The journey begins

I have now started training at my friend K-san’s dojo in central Tokyo. And what a marvellous experience it is. In the space of just one week I’ve managed to pack in no less than 9 hours solid training – that’s an incredible improvement over what I’m able to do in the UK. I don’t…

All Japan Iaido Championships

Yesterday I travelled up to Sendai with my friend and Iaido colleague K san for the All Japan Iaido Championships. This is an annual event that changes venue each year. This year’s host city, Sendai, lies about 300 miles north of Tokyo, necessitating a rather early start and a long drive – made all the…

Japan:Take nothing for granted

One of the most endearing features of Japanese life for a Westerner is that absolutely nothing can be taken for granted. Food is, of course, probably the first culture-shock people experience here. We are not accustomed to having our dinner arrive still attempting to escape, nor do we share the Japanese enthusiasm for plonking raw…

Feels like I’m here to stay

This morning I went to city hall to collect my gaijin card. This basically is my permission to live and work freely in Japan and it’s what all foreigners who want to stay here strive to achieve. For foreigners arriving here in the hope of getting a job, the gaijin card can prove a major…