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Author: muzuhashi

Mount Yamizo 八溝山

Mount Yamizo 八溝山

A couple of weeks ago I had a moment of enlightenment, or satori (悟り), as they say in Japanese. At the time I was sitting on a mossy rock, next to a pool of water, in a forest, on a mountaintop, on a cold, damp night, in the pitch dark, and with a plastic bottle in my hand. If you’re wondering how such an unlikely set of circumstances led to a transcendental experience, allow me to explain. Ask most of…

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A walk in the woods

A walk in the woods

Before embarking on my cycling-tour-stroke-endurance-test to Sado Island last summer, I decided to build up my stamina with a spot of hiking. On a typically sweltering August afternoon, I parked the car at a michi-no-eki (道の駅 / roadside services), took a precautionary photo of the route – as displayed on a nearby information board – and headed west along a narrow valley road. The footpath I wanted was so well hidden that I walked straight past it the first time,…

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The Japlish-to-Engrish dictionary

The Japlish-to-Engrish dictionary

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every J-blogger must one day post a series of photographs depicting hapless, hopeless, surreal and / or otherwise amusing uses of the English language by the Japanese. And after two years as Muzuhashi, so this day has come to pass. Some of the photos here were taken several years ago, some are of subjects that must surely have been spotted by other J-bloggers, some depict bizarre uses of the Japanese language by the…

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My Encounters With Alaska by Michio Hoshino

My Encounters With Alaska by Michio Hoshino

Back in 2004 when I was working for a conversation school in Tokyo, a student of mine had an important business meeting coming up with some foreign clients, and signed up for extra lessons so that he might better understand what was going on without having to be completely reliant on an interpreter. The meeting went well, and by way of thanks, he presented myself and another teacher at the school with gifts. Mine was a book called My Encounters…

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The deep-fried diaries

The deep-fried diaries

Before you go on holiday in – or rather, from – Japan, your friends and relatives will typically ask you these two questions: 1) What do you want to eat in England / North Korea / Swaziland?2) What Japanese food will do you think you’ll miss when you’re in England / North Korea / Swaziland? And when you get back from your holiday, they will ask you these two questions: 1) What did you eat in England / North Korea…

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The ALT Insider guest post!

The ALT Insider guest post!

In the space of little more than a year, ALT Insider has become the one-stop-shop for those of us who ply our trade as token gaiji…er, I mean English teaching assistants in Japanese schools, and seeing as James – the man who rules over the ALT Insider kingdom – was kind enough to let me write a guest post for his site, in the spirit of reciprocity, here’s his contribution to the United Kingdom of Muzuhashi. Read, enjoy, and if…

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The roads to Sado – Day 1

The roads to Sado – Day 1

When you go on a cycle tour, your shoes are the weakest link. I realised this while making my way around Hokkaido three years ago, where the weather was, to say the least, changeable. If a t-shirt or a pair of shorts get wet, you can hang them up and they’ll be dry by the next morning, but if it’s a pair of shoes, you’ll be stuck with damp feet for the next couple of days, and quite possibly a…

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The roads to Sado – Day 2

The roads to Sado – Day 2

Partly because it was my first time under canvas for three years, and partly because it was raining all night, I didn’t get much sleep at the Kitsuné-uchi campsite, and once I had packed the still-wet tent away, was even more desperate than usual for my morning coffee . On previous tours I would have treated myself to a sit-down breakfast in a proper coffee shop, but this year Mrs M has been tightening the purse strings. Like most wives…

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The roads to Sado – Day 3

The roads to Sado – Day 3

There were two possible routes west from Aizu-wakamatsu towards Niigata, and the decision as to which one to take was based on my Touring Mapple. Mapple is a map company whose logo is an apple (map + apple = Mapple. Geddit?), and while their ‘touring’ series is aimed primarily at motorcyclists, it’s just as handy for those of us using pedal power, because even if you can’t read Japanese, most of the roads have numbers, and there are easy-to-understand symbols…

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The roads to Sado – Day 4

The roads to Sado – Day 4

I awoke at ten past six to the sound of muzak drifting in from the hotel corridor, and while the weather outside had improved since the previous evening, it was still very much on the moody side. Pretty soon I had left the mountains behind me, and riding through the suburbs of Niigata City was relatively straightforward, as they were full of rice fields and flat as a pancake. The only problem was that after just three days on the…

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