Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Tops Tuesdays

This is the book that I mentioned last week in my 'What's the difference?' post and it is awesome. Definitely a recommended read for any non-Japanese living in Japan, people who are thinking about making the move and living in Japan,  or even people look for answers to the great question of race relations. You can buy your copy through Amazon.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Diary of a JET #9: What's the difference?

Coworker: Sarah-san. I wonder if you can help me?
Me: Oh, sure. What is it?
Coworker: I'm doing a lesson on culture shock for my social studies class and I want to show the students some examples. Have you ever experienced culture shock?
Me: Oh, well, I guess I felt a bit lonely and sad a few months after I arrived because I was away from my friends and family but I started to feel better eventually.
*It was about this point that I realized a look of confusion had fallen over my coworker's face.*

T.G.I.F.: Fuji Rock Festival 2012!

This weekend the hills are alive with the sounds of Radiohead, Owl City, and The Kooks. Fuji Rock is a 3-day event in Yamanashi-ken featured artists from around the world set against the back-drop of majestic Mt.  Fuji. Check out this awesome video promoting this year's event...

Most of the tickets are sold out so if you are going, have a fantastic time! Click the image below to visit the English Fuji Rock website...

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Tops Tuesdays

July and August in Japan means kakigori (flavoured shaved ice), summer festivals and--perhaps best of all--hanabi (fireworks). Most summer festivals close out the evening with a fireworks display. It is definitely a defining experience during a stay in Japan to attend one of these festivals in yukata (summer kimono) and enjoy balmy nights filled with fun, food and fire(works).  So this week, fireworks festivals make my Tops Tuesday post.

It is said that fireworks displays were once held in Japan on days of remembrance for the dead as a way of celebrating life. During the Edo period, fireworks were something that people of all economic classes could enjoy, promoting unity in the national psyche. Now, fireworks in Japan can be enjoyed by all walks of life.

One of the best fireworks displays in Shizuoka (if not Japan) occurs at the beach-side resort town, Atami. This Sunday, 5,000 fireworks will be launched to create one of the most spectacular displays in the area. Click the image below for more information (Japanese only)...

Here is another great website for locating fireworks festivals in your local area: http://hanabi.walkerplus.com/. This website has listings by prefecture, making it easy for you to find local events which include fireworks. Unfortunately it is Japanese only, but not too difficult to navigate for a Japanese-language novice. 

Have a lovely week!

Friday, 20 July 2012

T.G.I.F.: Sea to Summit 2012

We are right in the middle of Mt. Fuji climbing season and if you were ever interested in climbing this famous, majestic icon of Japan, this weekend might be a good opportunity. Sea to Summit is a charity event organized in conjunction with Oxfam. Every year an intrepid group of very fit people start at the beach near Fuji-shi and collect sea water which they then carry to the summit of Mt. Fuji in order to ceremoniously pour the water out at an elevation of 3,776 metres, all in under 24 hours. The aim of this event is to raise money for Oxfam. You may remember I posted a video last year of the 2011 Sea to Summit Mt. Fuji climb which I joined from the 5th station. Yes, it is possible to join Sea to Summit from the half-way point (2,3o0 metres) if you're not feeling up to the whole thing.

Mt. Fuji, Japan

I am told there are still a few slots available in this year's Sea to Summit team so hurry if you want to join. Joining requires you to pay a fee of 3,000yen, 2,000yen of which goes to the Oxfam charity. Sea to Summit will meet at Higashi-Tagonoura Station in Shizuoka Prefecture at 5:50am to begin the climb. Having reached the 5th station, team members will rest before continuing the climb at 9.30 pm with the aim of reaching the summit by dawn to witness the sun rise. 
Climbing Mt. Fuji is not for the faint-hearted or the seriously un-fit. It is an amazing experience to cross off your bucket list, but one for which you must prepare and take precautions. Dress appropriately, pack the right stuff, and (perhaps most importantly) bring lots of positive energy. 

Click the image below for more details...

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Travel Log: Nara

As you can see, I've been hitting the road a lot lately! In just the past month or so, I been to Tokyo on a few different occasions (Harajuku, DisneySea, Hiratsuka), Shimoda, Osaka and now Nara. And it only gets worse; in a couple of weeks, I'm heading over to to Thailand to begin a 2 week road trip across Cambodia and Vietnam. I've got to learn to say 'no.' 

Anyway, I had never been to Nara before and despite sweltering temperatures it was a really amazing place. Check out some snaps below...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Travel Log: Osaka

If you were paying attention to my Instagram channel last weekend, you would know that I spent the long weekend in Osaka. I think I've found my new favourite city! I had been to Osaka once five years ago on a day trip from Kyoto during a long vacation in Japan but didn't think much of it at the time. But actually staying in Osaka and experiencing its amazing neon shopping arcades by night changed that perspective pretty quickly. Osaka is home to some amazing cuisine and some really laid back people. The Japanese way is the conservative way but as it was stinking hot, I noticed Osakans everywhere were adorning lighter and more risqué apparel than I was used to. And I loved it! It was like being back in Aus! Find out more of what I got up to after the jump... But be warned, this is going to be a long post!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Tops Tuesday

On July 14th, director Mika Ninagawa's film adaption of Kyoko Okazaki's manga "Heruta Sukeruta" (Helter Skelter) was released in theatres across Japan. In the manga, Okazaki explores the dangers of beauty culture through her main character, LiLiCo (played by Erika Sawajiri in the film), a model who dabbles in plastic surgery and extreme dieting. The desire for perfection is slowly killing LiLiCo. Ninagawa's opulent sets and eclectic soundtrack combine to form a confronting assault of the senses. Check with your local cinema (in Japan, of course) for screenings of Heruta Sukeruta.

Friday, 13 July 2012

T.G.I.F.: Kumata Shrine Summer Festival

Osaka... the home of great food and great people. The weekend, Osaka is home to another interesting summer festival; the Kumata Shrine Summer Festival. This festival is the largest float festival in Osaka city and announces the coming of mid-summer. Of particular note is the parade of mikoshi (portable shrines) held on the 14th. Check it out! Click on the image below for more information...

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Travel Log: Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival

Sorry to bang on about this... This is the last post about Tanabata, I promise! Its no secret I attended the Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival (which featured in both my previous TGIF and Tops Tuesday posts) last weekend. I wanted to share some of my snaps with you! Enjoy!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Tops Tuesday

Last weekend I went to Hiratsuka for their annual Tanabata celebration. Tanabata festivals usually begin on or around July 7 and last up to August 7. So this week's Tops Tuesday post is dedicated to the wonder of Tanabata and its iconic paper streamers. I definitely recommend attending a Tanabata festival while in Japan; its an experience you will never forget.

(I took this image with Instagram. You can can follow me on Instagram by searching for username, "AussieOnTheIzu.")

Friday, 6 July 2012

T.G.I.F.: Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri

This weekend, of course, is Japan's famous Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival) and particularly noteworthy are the festivities in Hiratsuka which claims to host the largest (with the exception perhaps of the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri) festival of its kind in Japan. Tanabata typically celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively) who, according to legend, are separated by the Milky Way and are only allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. The day is usually marked with community events, much yukata-wearing, iconic displays of colourful streamers, and plenty of food stalls. Think Valentines Day meets Mardi Gras... in Japan. The Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri takes place between Friday, July 6th and Sunday, July 8th in Hiratsuka. Click the image below for more details (Japanese only)...

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Izu Life: Top 5 Little-Known Tanabata Festivals

Thinking of attending a Tanabata festival this summer? Here are some alternatives to the larger maintain-stay Tanabata festivals in Sendai and Hiratsuka that are worth checking out (click the image for more information)...

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Tops Tuesday

This shot was taken by the owner of GaijinHero.com and I thought it was too funny to pass over without mentioning it in a Tops Tuesday post...
Even Japanese Ninjas need some relaxing time in the park #onlyinjapan  (Taken with Instagram)
I guess even ninjas need to take a break sometimes! This shot of a couple of supposed ninjas taking a stroll was taken in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo. Have a great week!

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