Archive for the ‘japanese’ Category

My annual trip to Japan always includes a visit to an onsen (hot spring). The relaxed feeling after dipping into a Japanese hot spring is indescribable. Since my first onsen experience many years ago, I always leave time in my Japan travel schedule for onsen therapy.

When I told a Japanese friend that I am going to Akita prefecture this year, she suggested I visit Nyuto Onsen village. So I took a shinkansen (bullet train) for an hour from Akita city to Tazawako station and then a fifty minutes bus ride to the mountains to take a dip in one of the famous hot springs there.

There were so many onsen facilities in Nyuto Onsen village to choose from that I was tempted to go onsen-hopping all day! In the end, I settled for just one, Taenoyu Onsen. It is a cosy little ryokan with a rustic feeling. It has two types of hot spring water, one gold-coloured and the other clear.

The view from the private family bath that I booked was amazing! The waterfall from the Sendatsu River was mesmerizing as I soaked in the warm mineral water. View at Taenoyu Onsen


I will come back again in another season to soak in other hot springs in this area.

Read Full Post »

In April this year, I made a trip to Japan to see the cherry blossoms (Sakura). It was my first time in Japan during this special season. The blooming of cherry blossoms in Japan has special significance. It marks the arrival of spring, the start of the new school year, the start of working life for university graduates and hope for a fresh start in all endeavors.

Catching the cherry blossoms season in Japan requires some planning. First one has to know when the buds will start to flower on the trees. Then it will take roughly a week for the buds to reach full bloom. After that the flowers will remain for about a week before it starts to drop. The trees will be bare even faster if there are heavy rain and winds causing the flowers to drop quickly. To make a guess as to when the cherry blossoms will start to flower in Japan, one has to look at previous year’s data. For people travelling from outside Japan, it is a safe bet to be in Tokyo by 1st April.

There are famous Cherry Blossoms viewing spots all over Japan. There are specific parks where hundreds of cherry blossom trees are planted. The places to see cherry blossoms in Tokyo are Ueno Park (across from JR Ueno Station), Shinjuku Park (near Shinjuku JR Station), Sumida Park (along the Sumida River from the Asakusa subway station), Chidorigafuchi around Kitanomaru Park and Yasukuni Shrine (near Kudanshita subway station).

Top 3 Tips:

1. Find out when the cherry blossoms will start to flower

2. Don’t miss the Night Sakura (Cherry Blossoms lighted up at night)!

3. Bring a sheet to lie on the ground so that you can enjoy a picnic under the cherry trees (a Japanese cultural experience)

Click here for our Sakura photos.













Read Full Post »

Last month I attended a public lecture by Professor Koichi Iwabuchi on multicultural co-living in Japan. He talked about many foreigners already living in Japan despite there being no government policy towards immigrants. Japan is tightening its borders in reaction to terrorism following the footsteps of other countries around the world like America and UK. He thinks Japan should be more open to immigrants and have a coherent policy to enable this.

This will be hard to achieve in Japan. Immigration is a sensitive topic around the world. Its benefits are great. It can drive domestic growth, provide needed skills, support an ageing population and make a place interesting and exciting to live in. However, the negative points will start to appear to residents when a country is in recession and unemployment rises like in Spain, or when the environmental costs of immigration are high in a hot and dry country like Australia. This will create friction when citizens begin to resent the presence of immigrants, like in Singapore.






Read Full Post »

I decided to start this blog in Japanese to polish up my Japanese language skills. In reference to the Japanese idiom “腕をみがく”,I will do my best. Comments are welcome.

Recently, I read a short Japanese story by Kawakami Hiromi titled “God”. It is a simple story about a talking bear that invited the author to go for a walk to the riverbank.

It is not unusual to find talking animals in Japanese stories. In this story, the author has made the bear so human & polite that he is even better behaved than the people that they met on the way.

There was no reference to “God” in the story except towards the end where the talking bear says, “may the blessings of the bear god rain down upon you” to the author. The author tried but could not imagine what the bear god might be like. Giving the story the title “God” is a bit misleading.

mt fuji






Read Full Post »