And then it was spring

Hanami (花見, literally “flower viewing”) is like a national sport in Japan. There are two major hanami seasons and a host of smaller ones. The first comes in late February when the Japanese plum blossoms appear. Many people emerge from their winter sanctuaries into the still-frigid air to enjoy flower viewing and small festivals. A big deal is made about the beginning of spring and the desolation … Continue reading And then it was spring

Aoshima and the Nichinan Coast

After satisfying my mythological curiosity, I turned southward toward Miyazaki City, the capital of Miyazaki Prefecture. I stayed just outside the city in Aoshima, a small town and home to the eponymous Aoshima (which means “Blue Island”). Aoshima is a small island just off the coast of Miyazaki which can be reached by a short bridge. On the island there is a shrine that couples … Continue reading Aoshima and the Nichinan Coast

My Big Fat Spiritual Adventure

In the end I chose Miyazaki. I agonized over where to go on vacation during Spring Break. Isn’t that a really awful first-world problem? I’m surrounded by so many amazing places and I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford a decent vacation, yet I still found something to complain about. I don’t regret my decision at all, as I can confidently say that this … Continue reading My Big Fat Spiritual Adventure

Don’t Say ‘Hello’ to Me

I’ve been amassing serious amounts of frustration lately over something that’s actually pretty silly: when Japanese people greet me in English. At first, it’s neat. “Oh, that’s so welcoming!” I think, or, “Those random kids are so polite!” After a while, it gets exhausting (even for someone from the South, where strangers greet other strangers often). Greetings are met with a counterfeit smile and artificial … Continue reading Don’t Say ‘Hello’ to Me

His Majesty’s Reign

When was the last time you heard your national anthem? Did you stand up and sing along, or dutifully place your hand over your heart while quietly observing your fellow countrymen engaging in one of the most obvious displays of patriotism? Have you ever really thought critically about what your national anthem means, or what it symbolizes? Different countries have different ways to venerate their … Continue reading His Majesty’s Reign

A Little Bit of West in the East

A quick note before we get started: I want you to go read this. Seriously, this is your homework. I don’t want you to go any further in this post until you’ve read it. It’s not at all relevant to the post, but it makes some excellent points about the experience of being foreign in Japan and will surely give you a little bit of insight … Continue reading A Little Bit of West in the East