From Fukui, with Love

The slow, slow escape to Kyushu

Posted by in Mike's blog

“Why did you come to Kyushu?” Our host asked me this great question on our second night in Fukuoka prefecture.  We spent our golden week holidays (almost) as far away from home as the highways across Japan can take us.  It was an ambitious road trip, but the places we went were unlike any we have seen before. The plan “Golden week” is what we around here call a group of national holidays in late April/early May.  Most of the country gets time off of work, and it’s the busiest travelling…read more

Adventures in snowy Nagano

Posted by in Mike's blog

Nagano is like our home away from home in Japan.  One of my former students has generously made her vacation home available for our family to visit as often as we can.  So far we’ve been there 4 times – once in each season. The 1998 winter olympics put Nagano on the map, and now we know why.  It’s snowy in a way that Vancouver and Sochi are not.  Taking photos of the scenery was one of my goals for our trip, but we visited some cool places too. So…much…snow……read more

The geekiest way to go sightseeing

Posted by in Mike's blog

There was a day last fall when the way we see the world around us totally changed.  Places that once were uninteresting became much anticipated attractions.  We started seeking out nooks and crannies in our city that other people couldn’t care less about.  We began to go for long drives with the kids (while they nap) with no set destination, far into the mountains, through tiny villages, and often in circles. Mary and I got involved in a little game called Ingress. Except it’s not little.  There were more than 500 000 active…read more

Coastal drives along the Noto Peninsula

Posted by in Mike's blog

We picked a spot and went on an impulse road trip for 3 days. We realised recently that it had been a full year since we had gone anywhere in Japan that required an overnight stay.  2014 was a busy year with work and the kids.  We were also suffering from a small lack of inspiration – when we open maps, we only see places that we’ve already been to/are too far away/expensive/not kid-friendly. The spot that we picked was the Noto Peninsula (能登半島) in Ishikawa, just one prefecture north…read more

A vine bridge in the middle of nowhere

Posted by in Mike's blog

Today we ventured far, far away from our normal surroundings and routine. Every Sunday is the same for us.  We wake up, clean, make breakfast, prepare a grocery list, review our budget, go grocery shopping, fill our car with gas, make lunch, try and fail at naptime for the kids, then go to church. Every Tuesday my Japanese teacher asks me what we did on Sunday…and I always have the same response.  We realised this morning that we haven’t done anything different for almost 3 months – so instead of…read more

Happy beach days in Fukui

Posted by in Mike's blog

Summer is hot for us, as I’m sure it is wherever you are reading this from.  Our chosen method of beating the heat (when we have time), is swimming at one of the local beaches.  We do live on an island, and most cities are less than a day trip away from the nearest beach. Fukui has its fair share of sandy beaches, but most of them are pretty far from us.  Fortunately, there are two within 45 minutes of our place (by car).  We enjoyed our first beach day of the…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

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