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22/01/2020 Activities  Visit: Charming Towns

4 activities to enhance your trip to Kanazawa city

At the end of last year, I was able to visit Kanazawa for the first time with my colleague and friend Chigaya. The city has many awesome places to visit or stroll in, such as Kenrokuen Japanese garden, the Higashi-Chaya district, or the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. However, the city also offers a ton of activities, and we were able to test a few of them. Here are 4 cool things to do in Kanazawa to not just see, but also experience the local culture!

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17/01/2020 Life and Manners in Japan

Japan Origin Stories: How, When, and Why We Came to Japan

With a combined experience of nearly 35 years living and working in Japan, Amelie, David, and I figured it was high time we had a roundtable discussion about how we ended up in the land of the rising sun. Representing the U.S., France, and Belgium, our backgrounds may be diverse, but we discovered that we actually share a lot of common ground in our experiences. Read on for a conversation that starts with our origin stories and evolves into much more.

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14/01/2020 Japanese Language

The 5 Most Effective Flash Card Programs for Learning Japanese

Everyone who studies Japanese uses different methods, techniques, and tools to achieve mastery. However, ask around, and you’ll find that most learners consistently recommend one tool in particular: digital flash cards—specifically software with an effective Spaced Repetition System (SRS).

Over the past decade, I’ve used all kinds of flash cards (even the old-school paper ones) in my never-ending quest to learn Japanese vocabulary, kanji characters, and grammar with maximum efficiency. What follows are the flash card applications, ranked in order of effectiveness, that have made the greatest impact on my studies.

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07/01/2020 Activities  Visit: Parks & Nature

Experience the Outdoors with Kanto Adventures

A few years ago, I got interested in winter mountaineering, so a friend of mine recommended Kanto Adventures, an outdoor experience adventure company started by David Niehoff. In January, he was organising an “Introduction to Snow Mountaineering” on Yatsugatake. The two-day course would include an ascension of the highest peak, Mt Akadake (2899m). This was a great opportunity to get the skills I wanted, but at the same time it seemed like a big step-up from my usual hiking below the snow-line.

Fast forward to the present time: I recently met up with David to catch up and talk about himself, his company and the Japanese mountains. He was waiting at our meeting spot with a bulging backpack. “Food for six people for three days. After our chat, I’m heading to Haneda airport, and then to Yakushima for a trek across the island,” he explained in response to my puzzled look.

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06/01/2020 Visit: Charming Towns

Three Days in Kamiyama, Tokushima: A Rural Revitalization Success Story

Ryuji Nakayama is a man on a mission. After toiling away for 21 years as one of Japan’s salarymen, Nakayama-san found himself captivated by the alluring countryside lifestyle of Kamiyama, a rural village in Tokushima Prefecture on the island of Shikoku.

His sojourns to Kamiyama made such an impact that he decided to pack up his life and transplant himself to the village—permanently. After a seven-year stint as the owner of Awa Café, he decided it was time to dedicate his life to showcasing the beautiful scenery and welcoming people of Kamiyama to the rest of Japan and the world. Now he serves as the chairperson of Green Valley Inc., an NPO dedicated to “stimulating the local economy and encouraging  cultural development” against the backdrop of Japan’s rapidly declining rural population.

In this role, Nakayama-san has made his mission clear: introducing the wonder of Kamiyama to 10,000 new “friends.” He describes these friends as those who form a deep bond with the Kamiyama community—people who make repeat visits, enjoy extended stays, or perhaps relocate to the village just like he has done. Of course, he appreciates the economic value of traditional tourism, but his true goal is the long-term prosperity of Kamiyama, making it a beacon of sustainable growth for other rural communities throughout Japan to follow.

I was fortunate enough to spend three days in Kamiyama with Nakayama-san as my guide. What follows is a day-by-day breakdown of my incredible experience. I hope that this will inspire you to take a closer look at this fascinating village and consider becoming a true friend of Kamiyama.

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16/12/2019 Food & Drinks  Travel Tips

A Conbini Lunch on the Go: A Tadaima Japan Roundtable Discussion

Japanese convenience stores, known locally as “conbinis,” are legendary for their amazing selection of tasty treats. Conbinis are an obvious choice when you’re looking for a quick snack to help you push through a long work day. However, I also often enjoy full conbini-sourced meals—perhaps a little too often. This made me wonder if my Tadaima Japan colleagues felt the same way, and hence our latest roundtable discussion was born.
As it turns out, depending on your tastes and dietary preferences, it’s more difficult than you might imagine to exclusively source an enjoyable and somewhat healthy meal from your favorite convenience store. Read on to find out what happened when we tried to do just that.

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