Photo essay: Day trip to Nara

Nara in Japan is not only a physically beautiful city, it's also historically and culturally important. Before there was Tokyo, there was Nara, capital of Japan (710-794). It was during this time that Buddhism became the country's state religion. Today, the city remains a favorite with locals and tourists alike, home to UNESCO World Heritage [...]

An introvert’s approach to travel

  A lot of people think they know me but don't really know me at all. People think that because I'm Trinidadian that I must be an extrovert. Firstly, they assume I'm loud. Not loud or even Loud. L O U D. Bubbling with scandalous kya kya kya laughter. Secondly, they think I must be [...]

What it’s really like to live in Japan

In 2004, I traveled "around the world." Literally. At the time, zipping through six countries in three months seemed incredible. I (obnoxiously) emailed everyone I knew to let them know how amazing it was. I could think of nothing better than tramping across oceans and continents to experience alien foods, languages, and cultural practices. After that [...]

Bucket list Japan: see the peonies at Yuushien Garden

Daikonshima in Japan's Shimane prefecture is famous for peonies. Head to the island's Yuushien garden to see them in all their glory. This garden is kaiyu shiki teien or circuit style: you start at one end and wind your way around many different gardens. "The most famous place for this spectacle is the little island of [...]

Akashi desu!

Maybe you've already visited Japan and done the tourist favorites: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Mount Fuji and you want more. Or maybe you've never been to Japan yet you're craving something different. If you do plan to visit Japan soon, skip the major cities and seek out more offbeat cities that have their own local [...]

20 tips on how to be a great ALT in Japan

One of the biggest misconceptions about teaching in Japan is that all you need is a winning attitude. The Japanese call it being genki or energetic in the classroom. As an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT), your Japanese team-teacher (JTE) will expect you to feel like unicorns and rainbows every day. Nothing is wrong with genkiness per [...]

Hiroshima: the memory remains

In Hiroshima city, it's spring. The sun is warm and the air is fresh. Smells somewhat green. Birds are singing. In the city center, a tram pulls off and the street vibrates. Men in pressed pinstriped suits and polished brogues walk briskly and women cycle to their offices in chunky heels (how do they do [...]

3 fire festivals in Tottori and Shimane you should not miss

In Japan, Tottori and Shimane often get a bad rap. The shinkansen doesn't go there so they must be pretty backwater places. Au contraire, my friend, au contraire!  There's always something going on, if you know where to look. Like other prefectures in Japan, Tottori and Shimane have their own quirky light and fire festivals. [...]

3 top hiking destinations in Tottori prefecture

Tottori prefecture is as inaka as its gets in Japan. Although considered one of the country's least populated prefectures, nature here is simply stunning. If you're an outdoors type,  you will surely fall in love with the prefecture's mountainous landscapes. Here are 3 top hiking destinations in Tottori prefecture. 1. Mount Daisen Mount Daisen is the highest [...]

A wedding at Izumo Taisha

The couple exits one of the halls at Izumo Taisha, surrounded by a tiny cluster of relatives. The bride steps on the path in a swath of white and holds her head carefully, under the weight of her domed headdress. She looks demure, apart from her crimson lips. The wedding coordinator places her hand on [...]