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Author: muzuhashi

Views of Mount Fuji

Views of Mount Fuji

In the autumn of 2005, I was living in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture. I had just returned from the cycling holiday that will soon become my first (perhaps only?) travel book. I still had a fixed-line telephone in my apartment and one weekend my mother called. She had, she said, been to the doctor after experiencing stomach pains for the past few months. The doctor had scheduled a biopsy and she was awaiting the result. When she called again a week…

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The Six-Point Plan for Curing Insomnia

The Six-Point Plan for Curing Insomnia

Over the past few years, more than a couple of friends have discussed with me their own battles with insomnia. Based on personal experience, the following is an edited version of the advice I have given them. A lot of the basics are borrowed from Sleepio, which I have recommended on these pages before. 1) The Golden, Number One, Disobey-at-Your-Peril rule is: If you are unable to sleep, do not stay in bed. Instead, get up and go to another…

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My ALT Motto

My ALT Motto

I recently came up with a motto for ALT-ing that is — if I do say so myself — so good that I have to share it with you: If you’re getting paid to do nothing, do something. Anyone reading this who is already working as an ALT will know exactly what I mean, but in case you aren’t or you don’t, allow me to explain. As it happens, I have just been talking to one of my English teaching…

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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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