From Fukui, with Love

Our first lucky bag!

Posted by in Mike's blog

I just paid ¥1000 ($10 CAD) for a big red bag, and I had no idea what was inside. Lucky bags (福袋) are a new year’s tradition in Japan.  Stores gather things that may or may not have sold well at the end of the previous year and sell them as bundles at deeply discounted prices.  It’s been tempting to see these mystery bags pretty much everywhere all week.  Even the Apple Store joins in on the fun! I enjoy surprises, but there were a couple of things holding me…read more

Osaka with kids: More than we bargained for

Posted by in Mike's blog

We have taken the Bunny around the world.  Before her 2nd birthday (when she could ride on airplanes for free) she had been to Montreal, Toronto, Paris, Rome, Pisa, Tokyo, Osaka and Seoul.  We consider ourselves to be experienced at travelling with kids, but last month…we lost to Osaka. We’ve since identified the problems.  Some have solutions, others don’t.  Between the Turtle needing to stop for mommy milk and diaper changes and the Bunny running out of steam mid-day (she’s too old for a stroller now), we learned the hard…read more

Minor setbacks didn’t spoil the Bunny’s 4th birthday

Posted by in Mike's blog

We now have a 4 year old Bunny. To celebrate, we decided that we wanted to make her birthday special, like every little girl’s birthday should be in its own way.  Birthday parties for kids don’t seem to be a big thing here, and the Bunny’s birthday happens to fall on the first day of the most important holiday period on the Japanese calendar, so most of her friends were busy and/or out of town.  Still, we planned a fun day full of things that we thought she would enjoy….though…read more

No scandals at Eiheiji temple

Posted by in Mike's blog

Fukui has two main tourist attractions: Tojinbo cliffs and Eiheiji temple.  We hadn’t been to Eiheiji before, so we went with Bubbe before the daily rain started and when the leaves were still nice. This temple is pretty huge.  It’s both a lucrative tourist moneymaker and a fully functional buddhist temple.  Monks live, train and worship there.  On our way in we passed a funeral procession.  We got a map and pamphlet full of rules that we adhered to, including but not limited to no shoes anywhere (we had to…read more

We did everything that we’re not supposed to do at Zenkoji temple

Posted by in Mike's blog

We’ve lived in Japan for over 2 years.  There is a lot that we don’t know…but we know enough to look back on our most recent temple visit and realise that we totally botched the “respectful tourist” thing that we’re supposed to do. After a long day of driving and sightseeing we popped into Zenkoji temple in Nagano city to show Bubbe (the Bunny’s grandmother) what a Japanese temple looks like.  We made some mistakes while we were there.  Thankfully it was late and not too many people witnessed us…read more

Ono in the fall

Posted by in Mike's blog

We took a short trip to Ono city in Fukui prefecture’s eastern mountains.  My mom (Bubbe) wanted to see a real Japanese castle, and Ono is supposed to be very nice at this time of year. Ono city is on a flat piece of land surrounded by mountains, with one lonely mountain in the middle.  People who have long since passed decided to build a castle on that lonely mountain.  It was a good strategy at the time, but that didn’t prevent the castle from being burnt down a few…read more

Our Thanksgiving in Japan

Posted by in Mike's blog

We had our annual Thanksgiving feast at Bunkyo Gospel Centre last weekend.  It was wonderful. Japan has a “Labour and Thanksgiving Day” in November, but it isn’t celebrated the same way we are accustomed to.  We discussed cultural differences between Thanksgiving celebrations around the world while we ate turkey at our table. My mom and I worked in the kitchen to prepare one of three 15 pound turkeys in the church’s convection pizza oven.  We imported the turkeys and cranberry sauce from America through Yoyo Market.  Here some simplified steps…read more

How to see foliage the Japanese way

Posted by in Mike's blog

We just returned from another weekend in Nagano at the lovely cottage that we visit occasionally.  This time we had a mission:  To find and take pictures of awesome fall colours in the mountains.  Our friends and neighbours call it “autumn leaf viewing”. Prior to this past weekend I used to look outside, decide the trees looked nice, then drive through wooded areas.  That was my version of autumn leaf viewing.  This time we did things differently.  I discovered foliage spot finder to help us with our quest: Using this website, I…read more

Kanazawa gets no respect

Posted by in Mike's blog

Name 3 cities in Japan.  I bet one of them was Tokyo. There was a time when Kanazawa had a chance at being one of the first three cities that might have come to mind.  That time was a few centuries ago.  These days Kanazawa gets no respect.  We went there a few weeks ago to see what all the lack of fuss was about. Short introduction Kanazawa is a city.  It’s not a big city…only around 460 000 people.  It happens to be the biggest city in Hokuriku (Hokuriku…read more

Budget travelling in Japan the Mike & Mary way

Posted by in Mike's blog

Vacationing in Japan can get crazy expensive, but it doesn’t have to.  If we aren’t careful, we can drop tens of thousands of yen in a day while we are away from home.  It helps to pretend that the values of all the things we buy have less zeroes at the end…but when we do that we’re only fooling ourselves. Now that we have been to more prefectures than we can count on our hands I feel like we have learned enough about how to have a good time while…read more