Uniquely Japanese- Kodawari こだわり

Google translate translates kodawari as meaning commitment, but this simple translation certainly lacks understanding of the nuance of the word. Kodawari is an uncompromising and relentless pursuit of perfection. In craftsmanship, in skill, in creativity, in the everyday. This is an attribute you can witness in every aspect of life in Japan. One that can…

Travel and the Coronavirus

As a young person, probably in my late teens, I became somewhat obsessed with epidemiology and read voraciously about viruses, the CDC and Ebola, in particular. The Hot Zone, Virus X and The Coming Plague still sit on the shelf in our study. I feel like I have been waiting for the Coronavirus, without knowing…

Yurei, Bakemono, Yokai and other Japanese Horror Stories

I am not a huge fan of horror movies, although I was an avid reader of horror when I was younger. The last horror story I read was Ring by Koji Suzuki (1998). It was terrifying, in a very subtle, psychological way. I have recently been watching The Terror: Infamy by AMC on Amazon Prime….

Onna-bugeisha…female Samurai

“Samurai” usually brings forth a vision of a guy in traditional Japanese feudal armour with several swords and a scary disposition. While many samurai were certainly great warriors and warlords, the term actually refers to a class of people in Japan, which, of course, includes women. The bushi class in feudal Japan were the highest…

Sake Qualified

Back in May I wrote a blog about Super Sake Boy and I taking the WSET Level 3 Award in Sake course and examination. You can read the blog here. At the time we knew we would have to wait eight to ten weeks to receive our results. It occurred to me when I re-read…

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Peace Park

Thursday morning we headed out for coffee and realised that Abby needed to go back to bed. She was achy and had a bad headache. Finn made the decision he was not up for atomic bomb history and museums. So Super Sake Boy dropped Abby home and Finn went off exploring downtown. Super Sake Boy,…

Mining in to Hashima’s History

Wednesday morning saw us enjoying another delightful Japanese style breakfast, cooked by Fujiwara-san’s wife. The breakfast room was very pretty with shoji screens, tatami and shiny black furniture. The day out the window looked positively miserable. We have been quite lucky with the weather, with only short periods of rain. It’s the wet season here,…

Gunkanjima, the Battleship Island

Tuesday morning we were up early for a traditional ryokan breakfast. Not nearly quite as terrifying as our previous ryokan experience, a much more homely Japanese breakfast of saba (mackerel), rice, miso, tofu, pickles and green tea, the meal was delicious and satisfying. Fujiwara-san, the owner of the ryokan, is so cute, and his family…

Headed for Kyushu

Monday morning we were booked to take three shinkansen from Kyoto to Nagasaki. I woke up feeling very less than average and had been coughing and spluttering all night. I always feel sad about leaving Kyoto, but this time I was feeling so unwell, it was overpowering my impending dread. I got up early and…

An Unexpected Cultural Adventure

On Sunday, Super Sake Boy and I had arranged to meet up with the very lovely Fujimoris, the couple we met at Shu Kura sake bar in Ponto-cho. Our conversation on the evening was very broken English/Japanese and somewhat sake fuelled, but fun and interesting, none-the-less. Super Sake Boy had painstakingly written his emails in…

Matcha, Sushi, Fairy Floss and Echoes of Murasaki

Saturday morning we decided to have a bit of a lazy and slow start to the day, as we had arranged to go to Uji with Maki and Senki and Sen-chan had track and field club in the morning. It was a good reason to have some down time. We did a bunch of washing…

A Day of Excellent Temples and Even More Excellent Sake

On Friday morning we headed out early after a reasonably early night. We had decided on a temple on the other side of town. Daitoku-Ji is a large temple complex, a branch of the Rinzai school of Japanese Zen Buddhism. There are around six buildings of the main temple and then around 22 sub-temples. Established…