The Copse

The Copse

There is a small copse near our house that I have always loved. It is of deciduous trees that change with the seasons, not boring cedar or cypress, of which you will find so many in Japan. So the leaves are a brilliant green in the spring, make a pleasant rustling noise on windy days, change colour and fall to the ground in autumn, and leave the silhouettes of bare branches to stand out against the sky in winter. Perhaps…

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Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

So this is me recommending a book that I haven’t actually read yet, but that sounds like it will be of interest to anyone out there who — like me — is an insomniac, either recovering or suffering. The book is Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, and is discussed by him and Dr. Rangan Chatterjee in two episodes of the Feel Better, Live More podcast, and by him and Rich Roll (a vegan ultramarathon runner, no less) in one…

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Nishikanasa Shrine 西金砂神社

Nishikanasa Shrine 西金砂神社

A few weeks ago, M Jr. and M Jr. II put on kimonos and took part in a shintō ceremony at Nishikanasa Shrine in the north of Ibaraki Prefecture. It’s an annual ceremony to wish for peace, tranquility, and a fruitful harvest, and the same shrine holds another along similar lines once every seven years. On a much larger scale, it holds yet another that takes place just once every 73 years, which is apparently the longest period of time…

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Food quiz no.3

Food quiz no.3

These are some pictures of my breakfast a couple of weeks ago — or at least, part one of my breakfast, as I tend to wake up at about 4/4.30, have bread or toast with my morning coffee at 5, then sit down with the children at about 7 for part two. This isn’t bread or toast but something that I mashed up with olive oil and pepper, although hardly anyone else in the known universe would use the same…

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Food quiz no.2

Food quiz no.2

Like the mystery item in my previous food quiz post, this was purchased from Gyōmusūpā and looks equally weird. It’s an egg, of course, but what kind? Answers in a comment, please! (The more observant among you will have noted the resemblance between the egg and my, er, “hairstyle.”) Black on the outside and green on the inside — yum, yum! Actually it didn’t taste as odd as it looked — didn’t taste of much at all, in fact.

A Walk in Yamagata

A Walk in Yamagata

This is one of those, “Aah, things were so much easier before COVID…” posts, from a time when we could all still move around freely, go on holiday, go to work without having to wear a mask, etc. etc. Miss Beautiful Happiness, a friend of ours from our time living in London (Mrs. M met Miss Beautiful Happiness when they worked together in a Japanese restaurant, and we invited her to our wedding), lives with her mother in Yamagata, and…

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Food quiz no.1

Food quiz no.1

Gyōmusūpā — literally”business supermarket” — sells things like catering-size bottles of sauce and sack-size bags of coffee, and has been rivalling Costco in popularity recently, partly thanks to being featured in various TV commercials thinly disguised as bona fide shows. Below are some pictures are of an interesting — and surprisingly yummy — food item that Mrs. M brought back from Gyōmusūpā the other week, but can you guess what it is? (A hint: although it may appear to be,…

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Cherry blossom 桜

Cherry blossom 桜

It’s a miracle: we have cherry blossom in our back garden! Not exactly a long-cherished dream, but I wanted something nice to look at instead of a brown metal fence and in the interests of cultural integration, decided that a cherry tree would be appropriate. This time last year, I bought a cherry sapling from the local hardware/garden store, read the instructions for planting it — along with some online advice — and, with a little help from M Jr. and…

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Podcast!

Podcast!

I was recently introduced to a very nice fellow called Ollie Clissold, who is currently locked down in Denmark, but over the years has lived in Australia, Vietnam, Africa, and Japan. Ollie recently began presenting an excellent podcast called Old Dogs, in which, as the name suggests, he talks to people who have acquired “new tricks” later in life. Ollie asked if I would like to appear in the podcast, so if you want to listen to me talk about…

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Scarecrow festival かかし祭

Scarecrow festival かかし祭

Every year there is a scarecrow festival in Satomi, which used to be a town in its own right and is now part of Hitachi-ōta City. I have been to the festival many times over the past decade or so and last autumn, not only did the festival go ahead (I assume they considered cancelling it due to the Covid situation) but there were some very interesting scarecrows on show. These included a Gundam: Naomi Osaka: A dragon: Anpanman’s superhero…

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