First signs of Spring and a new perspective

Tokyo awoke this morning to a light sprinkling of snow. The sugar-coated trees and houses that provided the backdrop for this morning’s jog around the park reminded me that winter is yet to loosen its grip on us. And yet all around, signs of life are beginning to appear once more and it really won’t…

What’s so great about Japan?

When I travel back to Europe and I meet with someone who finds out that I live in Japan, the inevitable first question is along the lines of “What do you like about Japan?” It’s a question I have fielded hundreds of times, and to be honest I tend now to try and just skip…

The fragility of the sakura

Spring is now well on its way in Tokyo. This morning I extended my Sunday morning run out to 15km along the Zenpukuji and Kanda rivers, sweeping round in a wide loop to take in a few of the local parks along the way. The local authority has done a splendid job of creating a…

The long,hot Summer

Well, it’s been a while since my last post and to be honest, I don’t know where this Summer went. One minute I’m blogging about the end of term at Japanese class, and the next I’m sitting here listening to the September rain pounding the street outside and wondering what happened in between. Well, actually,…

Worlds in motion

Sometimes, because the scenery changes so slowly, it’s difficult to gauge just how far you’ve come in life.  But every so often you have a kind of flashback to a former existence that brings the contrast between “then” and “now” into stark focus. Me and Big M’s married life together has not been easy. In…

A dream come true – in more ways than one

Today is Father’s Day across the world. In my family, that means one thing – a great excuse for the girls to visit their favourite local cake shop Ates Souhaite (“Your dream come true”) to obtain one of their fantastic creations. I am not a great fan of sweets and desserts, but even I get…

You’re ‘kin nicked, me old china

I have just completed my first patrol as a member of the Bouhan Patrol – the crack law enforcement unit charged with the onerous responsibility of maintaining order on the mean streets of Shoan. And I must say, for a first day out it was pretty satisfying. Although I didn’t get to write out  any…

A fragile haven of peace and tranquility

We have just returned from our family trip to Karuizawa in Nagano prefecture. Thankfully, nearby Mt. Asama behaved itself and we didn’t all get blasted to bits by a volcanic eruption. The main reason for the trip was Y-chan’s piano recital at Karuizawa’a famous Ohga Hall, shown here at dusk. The concert went pretty well…

Beautiful location – shame about the neighbour

This weekend we are off to the picturesque and – according to Wikipedia –upscale mountain resort of Karuizawa in Nagano prefecture. The occasion is a piano concert featuring our very own Y chan, to be held in a proper concert hall in the town. It’s something we’ve all been looking forward to for some time….

‘ello, ‘ello, ‘ello – 何が、ここでありますか?

  Your humble scribe has been gripped with a sudden and unexplained surge of civic responsibility. The net result of which is that – and I don’t know quite how it happened – I appear to have joined the local police. Or more accurately, the local neighbourhood patrol volunteers. A note came through the door…

A moment of clarity

I am presently going through one of those revelatory periods in my iaido practice where some small insight into the deeper significance of the art has become clear to me. This has come at the end of a reasonably despondent period of training where I don’t seem to have made any progress at all. After…

Festival time in Nishiogi

This weekend there are festivities happening in our local town centre, Nishi Ogikubo. There doesn’t appear to be anything particularly significant about the date – I think it’s more of an early Summer shopping festival run by the local chamber of commerce. But it doesn’t take much for the locals to get into the festival…