Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Tops Tuesdays!

Merry Christmas and welcome to a very special edition of Tops Tuesdays where we take a look back at the top five best Tops Tuesdays posts of 2012 (click the image to see the original post)...

Friday, 21 December 2012

T.G.I.F.: Who cares? It's Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Image Source: http://www.longcountdown.com/2007/10/25/japanese-style-christmas-cards/

If you are reading this, that means the Mayan apocalypse hasn't come for your soul (yet). Congratulations! 

Tomorrow I will be boarding a flight home to sunny Australia and as such, this blog will be on hiatus for a couple of weeks. I have a few posts scheduled to post here during the down time but don't expect too much. Normal posting will resume in the new year. 

This is the last you'll hear from me for a while so have a safe and happy holiday season guys! Bye!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Tops Tuesdays!

Japan has some strange customs when it comes to Christmas. Walk past any given KFC on Christmas Day and you will find an impenetrable line-up around the block for what the Japanese deem "Christmas dinner." Legend tells that a Japanese KFC employee overheard some westerners enjoying their fried chicken on Christmas Day and saying that KFC was the closest thing to a turkey dinner for foreigners living in Japan. KFC decided to milk this cash cow and starting an aggressive marketing campaign to Japanese citizens; KFC is a foreigner's first choice for Christmas dinner. Another example of Japan's complete inability to grasp sarcasm, but anyway...

You might also have noticed that Christmas cakes in Japan do not take the form of dense fruitcake that could easily substitute a doorstop, rather, Japanese Christmas cake is light and fluffy sponge cake with healthy servings of cream and strawberries. 

Image Source: http://thisculturalchristian.blogspot.jp/2011/12/japanese-christmas-traditions.html

Christmas time in Australia is a time for family to come together, enjoy each other's company, and celebrate the spirit of the season, while New Years is usually reserved for couples to reflect on the past and reign in the new year to come together. In Japan, the sentiments of these holidays is reversed; couples enjoy strolling through winter illuminations or enjoying a romantic meal on Christmas Day, making it seem much more like a Valentine's Day style celebration, while New Years is a day to enjoy a family meal and welcome the new year among family and friends. 

Christmas in Japan can be mind-boggling and different but it certainly makes for an interesting holiday season (and the subject of a Tops Tuesdays post). Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year!

Friday, 14 December 2012

A Year in Review with Instagram

It's almost the end of the year and before I go on hiatus for my return to Australia for the Christmas period, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of my adventures this year with some of my favourite Instagrams from 2012...

T.G.I.F.: Kasuga Wakamiya On-Matsuri

Over the next few days (from December 15th through 18th), the "Kasuga Wakamiya On Matsuri" at Nara's Kasuga Taisha (shrine) is being held. The festival has roots in 12th century Japan when the city was in the midst of a plague epidemic. You can see shrine maidens and adorable children in traditional costume offering up their prayers for good health and a rich harvest. Festivities reach their peak on the 17th. Click the image below for more details.

Image Source: http://narashikanko.or.jp/en/

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tops Tuesdays!

It's peak season for mikan (or mandarins) in Japan. Mikan can often be seen as a part of a bentou lunch or enjoyed from the comfort of the kotatsu at this time of year. They are also a great way to boost your Vitamin C intake during cold and flu season. Get out there and enjoy them!

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheemstra/5391876719/

Friday, 7 December 2012

T.G.I.F.: Stargazing Party

If you are in Sapporo, Hokkaido, this weekend, you may be interested to know the Museum of Science is hosting a free Stargazing Party from 9pm and this is the final weekend to participate. Take the Tozai Line to Shin-Sapporo Station, Exit 1. Click the image below for more details (Japanese only)...

Image Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/british-breaks/britains-best-stargazing-spots-see-1242276

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Tops Tuesdays!

It's exam season in Japan so many students will be flat-out studying and many teachers will be flat-out marking those exams. Its a busy time of year but if you work in Japan as a teacher, you may have noticed your students' increased propensity towards the humble Kit Kat chocolates recently. This is because the Japanese pronunciation for 'Kit Kat' sounds like "きっと勝つ" (or “Kitto Katsu”), which translates into Japanese as, “I'm definitely going to win!” Obviously, chocolate is no substitute for studying but some students like to think of Kit Kats (with their many weird and wonderful flavours) as a lucky charm to carry into their exam with them. Good luck and "頑張って!" ("Do your best!") to all the high-schoolers and high school teachers out there this exam season!

Image source: http://blog.creamglobal.com/right_brain_left_brain/2012/03/kitkats-secret-to-success-in-japan.html

Monday, 3 December 2012

Travel Log: Autumn in Tokyo

It feels weird making this a "travel log" entry considering how close Tokyo is to Shizuoka, but Saturday I decided to check out some of Tokyo's best "koyo" (autumn leaf veiwing) sites while I got some Christmas shopping done...

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