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 learning Japanese in particular, Japan in general, and various other topics, you can do so here.

I highly recommend checking out previous episodes, too. For example, an interview with a friend of mine called Rosie, who took up the piano, and another with Tris Lovering, who is making a name for himself as a photographer on Instagram.

The above links are to Apple Podcasts, but you can also listen to the episode featuring yours truly and the show as a whole on Spotify.

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 buddy Shokupanman (“Sliced Bread Man”):

At least one or two farm animals:

And last but not least, a papier mâché recreation of Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan (“fugitive,” it says at the bottom):