December 18, 2009

Red Leaves on Blue


A blue sky on a fall day. Beautiful!

December 16, 2009

Photographic Exploration

I have been using my weekends recently as a time to explore the limits of my new camera and lens, the Canon T1i and Tamron 28-75mm 2.8f, respectively. It has helped my photography grow, changed the way I perceive my surroundings, and given me a reason to get outside and explore Oita City again. These three points have more then justified the relatively expensive price of my new gear. With upcoming travel plans to Cambodia and Vietnam, I am sure I will be even more satisfied with my decision to buy a serious camera and lens.

Below are five pictures I took last weekend on a photo-walk. A photo-walk is basically when I drive to a place and spend about two hours walking, exploring, and taking photos in a relatively small area. They are a great way to become familiar with your surrounds, find neat little shops, and delicious restaurants that you never knew existed. I also end up taking pictures of things I might normally pass up, because I am trying to get from photo site A to site B. Here the point is to wander and go down that street that you might normally pass up. For example, on this last trip I found a shrine I didn't know existed, a cat poised outside a restaurant waiting for some scraps, some great greasy pipes and a rundown building literally falling apart. Enjoy the photos below and click on them to see larger versions on my flickr account.

Detailed Shrine Roof

Shinto Shrine

Eyes on You

Grundgy Pipes

Grundgy Wall

December 8, 2009

Made with a candle received at an end of the year gift exchange. Who says you can't get anything useful from those?

Shot with a Canon T1i at 720p. Note to self, when filming fire remember that your lens is a lot closer than your face and the back of the camera to the flame. Almost melted the front of my camera:-/

Creative Commons - Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike - License

Filmed and edited by Gaijin Guide
Music: Changka by Don't Be A Stranger
Provided courtesy of

December 6, 2009

November 22, 2009

Unboxing Canon T1i and Test Results

Here is me unboxing my new DSLR camera, a Canon Kiss x3 (T1i in the West), and some test pictures and footage.

Short on time? Here is a video just of the test footage.

October 30, 2009

Rice Ready for the Harvest

Rice Field
Creative Commons - Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike

A rice field just before the harvest

October 29, 2009

Beautiful Japan and Fireworks

Simply a beautiful video.

Harvested Rice Stacks

Harvested Rice Stacks

Creative Commons License - Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike

These stacks have already been stripped of there rice grains and will soon be burned in the fields to give some nutrients back to the soil. Shoot in Kyushu, Japan.

October 24, 2009

Canon Kiss x3 and HDR

Two HDR shots from my new camera (Canon Kiss x3). I have a lot to learn, but it is definitely fun taking pictures!

Three Bamboo Three Colors

Grandpa Bamboo

October 13, 2009

Land of the Setting Sun

A blood soaked crimson sunset viewed from near my house.

Please remember to take the time to watch the sun rise and set. It is one of the simple pleasures available to us all.

**Make sure you stay around for the 4 pictures at the end. They are the best part.

Music: Warm by All India Radio
Provide courtesy of

September 12, 2009

September 8, 2009

Late Summer Sunsets

Feet Up Sun Down

I had the fortunate opportunity to be invited up to a beautiful house that sits on the ocean this past weekend. As the sunset, we put our feet up and enjoyed the warm glow of a late summer sunset.

Deck Chair Sunset

My seat of choice to watch the purples and pinks play across the sky.

Heavenly Sunset

As the sun lowered, a cloud was caught perfectly in its rays.

Ocean Sunset
Moving into the final act and finale, the sky became drenched in ruby red.

August 27, 2009

Tiny Car-Bus

I can across a great little car that had been modified the other day. So Sweet!.

August 17, 2009

One Step Closer to Paradise

Travel photos from Southern Miyazaki during a recent camping trip. Snapped in the Nichinan, Nichigo, Udo-Jingu, and a jaunt into Kagoshima. Undoubtedly beautiful coastline and water. You must go if you live in Japan.

August 7, 2009

August 5, 2009

Goodbye Assembly and Gifts

Recorded my feelings and impressions after my last day of class at one of the two schools I teach at. I was transferred to another school that will hopefully be a great school to work at. It is definitely a shorter commute.

The gifts I got on the last day rocked!

August 1, 2009

July 30, 2009

Japanese Subculture + Peter Bjorn & John

A great video showcasing a subculture that exists in Japan. If you walk around Tokyo on the weekend you will no doubt see these greasers dancing about. The song is "Nothing is Wrong" by Peter Bjorn & John.

July 16, 2009

A Little Slice of Heaven in Miyazaki


After a year of living on the island of Kyushu, I finally made it to Miyazaki-ken known for its beaches, surfing, and chicken nanban. I now find myself asking, "what took so damn long?" Everyone has their little bit of heaven on earth, and I think I just found mine.


The plan had me and some friends camping on Shimoaso beach (下阿蘇ビーチ) just north of Nobeoka (延岡) which is located in the northern part of the prefecture. We armed ourselves with newly bought tents, an ¥800 BBQ grill, and MEAT. But you live in Japan, isn't meat expensive? Well if you have a friend who lives near Costco in Fukuoka, two giant steaks, pork chops, shrimp, chicken wings, and bratwursts are no problem. Yes, we did consume all that in one meal and we even threw in some eggplant, shitake mushrooms, and green peppers to boot.


Our camping spot was surrounded with palm trees and a nice sand beach stretched out to our left and right. The facilities were great; shower, bathroom, power outlets, and tables all within reach. After the rained stopped around 4pm, it was smooth sailing and the camping out experience really enhanced our trip. A stay in a local hotel or even a cabin wouldn't have improved the trip. Conversely, I would say it would have detracted from it.


On the second day, we went for a morning swim out to a chain of rocks off the shore and relaxed listening to the sound of waves lap against the shore. Afterward, we forwent the local showers and found our way to a nice お風呂 and soaked in some hot water. What better way to follow that up then with some sushi.


We packed up and left our little haven to check out Takachiho Gorge高千穂峡), which was formed by the lava flows of Mt. Aso, in neighboring Kumamoto-ken. It was stunning. See the pictures below for yourself.



Not bad for a weekend trip and to think it is all under a 90 minute drive from my house. I will definitely head back. In fact, I will be heading to southern Miyazaki in about a months time. I wish you could see the smile on my face.

July 12, 2009

The Source of the Ono River - 白水の滝

A pit stop at 白水の滝 in 荻町 on my way to Mt. Aso (阿蘇山), the volcano that helped form Kyushu and holds the record for largest volcanic caldera in the Japan. I muse over rural life and give some advice to new JETs placed in the Japanese countryside.

July 2, 2009

Hiking Japan's Largest Active Volcano - Mt. Aso

Sulfuric River

On July 27th I decided to go hiking, my new hobby since I’ve come to rural Japan. Having already climbed Mt. Yufu twice and hiked on and around Mt. Kuju a few times it was time to stretch my legs a little. I fixed my eyes on Aso-san (阿蘇山) in the neighboring prefecture of Kumamoto--an active volcano whose volcanic eruptions formed the island of Kyushu (Japan’s third largest island). It also is one of the world’s major volcanic caldera and is Japan's largest active volcano.

(**Edit: Most of Kyushu was formed by the subduction of the Philippine plate under the Eurasian plate, not by Aso's eruptions, which are relatively recent. Thanks to CJW for the correction)


The volcano offers a couple hiking routes with views of the still fuming crater and the Aso caldera. The route I choose took me from the Sensuikyou car park (仙酔峡駐車場) at the base of the Sensuikyou Rope Way up to the edge of the crater then off to the top of Naka-dake, (中岳) which overlooks the crater from a height of 1,506 meters. The second summit of the day, Taka-dake (高岳 1,592 meters), followed and I ended with a very steep descent to the car park via Sensuikyou Ridge (仙酔尾根).

I was able to complete the route in less than 4 hours without pushing too hard and often stopping to take photos and video. The first leg of the hike from the car park to the rim of the volcano is a steep and steady assent and required about 30 minutes of hiking that got me sweating in the end of June heat (30 c). However, you are quickly rewarded with a wide-open view of Aso-san’s crater and smoke plumes of noxious gases that depending on the wind can close the surrounding hiking trails. Behind you is a sweeping view of the Aso caldera and the town of Aso. The surrounding scenery and landscapes of jagged and reddish volcanic rock offer something new that I had not seen elsewhere on Kyushu.

Volcanic Trail

With my back to the volcano, I began trekking toward the first summit of the day. As I gained elevation the valley on the opposite-side of Aso-san revealed itself. From the picture below, you can see hills that appear as if they were rivulets scrapped into the base of the rising mountain.

Rivuteled Mountain side

I soon reached the summit without trouble and decided to continue on to Taka-dake which was steeped in clouds. The path was more strenuous with various obstacles, but nothing a fellow hiker should worry about. Being the highest point in the surrounding area, it would have felt great to survey the area and look down on the car park that I had left behind just 2 hours ago, but sadly I was surrounded by clouds and the wind was picking up so I decided to start my descent. Oh and was I in for a surprise.

Hiking in the Clouds

Up until that point, the trails had been clearly marked and pretty well groomed. The final leg of the journey proved otherwise. As I descended the Sensuikyou Ridge, it became apparent that not many hikers ventured this far including the personnel responsible for remarking the trails. What had once been a trail marked with bright yellow spray painted arrows turned into weather beaten half-rotted poles from yester-year. These soon disappeared and intermittent faded yellow dots replaced them. The conditions of the “trail” took a turn for the worse too. The side of the mountain was covered with small and medium-sized volcanic rock, which is light when compared to your average trail rock on a density/volume scale. This resulted in the small rocks sliding out right from under you and when you tried to regain your balance by bracing your foot on a larger rock that too started to roll. Not good conditions especially when you are losing all the elevation you gained over 4.5 km in 1.5 km (and over half in the first .7 km). I thought of turning back, but knowing what I had to go up made me continue on my course. Needless to say, I made it back to the car park without major incident, but I cannot recommend the final leg of my hike to anyone. It was slow going and there were a couple “Oh Shit!” moments.


The hiking on and around Aso-san was the most interesting I have experienced yet in Kyushu. While the trail offerings are by no means as extensive as those on Kuju and its surrounding plateau, what it has is quality and its landscapes offer something different from your run-of-the-mill brush and cedar trees that cover so much of Kyushu’s protected nature areas.

For a good blog post by a Japanese hiker who hiked pretty much the same route check this out.

June 24, 2009








June 15, 2009

Cycling the Seto Inland Sea

Here is a mirror of an article I researched and wrote for the Oita JETs website.

From Kadomas photostream on Flickr
From Kadoma's photostream on Flickr

Japan offers breathtaking views and dramatic coastlines that equal those of any country. However, with Japan's size you can often miss out on nature's artistry, especially if there is a mountain between you and the sea. But not to worry, this can be remedied by a leisurely cycling trip crossing the Seto Inland Sea from Imabari, Ehime-ken (愛媛県今治) all the way to Omiti, Hiroshima-ken (広島県尾道).

In 1999, the Shimanami-Kaidou (しまなみ海道) was completed connecting Japan's largest island, Honshu, with the smallest of the main islands Shikoku. It connects six islands via seven bridges that span the Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海), and is about 80 km in length. The highway was constructed with all types of tourism in mind, and includes lanes to keep cyclist away from vehicular traffic and let them cruise along while soaking up the views. Now, the idea of cycling the Inland Sea may sound great, but getting to Ehime-ken or Hiroshima-ken with your bike may sound like hell. Fair enough, but luckily at each end of the highway and on each island in between, fourteen bike rental terminals have been set up that provide cheap rentals. An adult and child can get a one day rental for ¥500 and ¥300, respectively. A small ¥1000 deposit is required that you can recoup by returning your bike to the same rental terminal. If you are willing to lose the deposit, it gives you some flexibility allowing you to cycle only one way or even halfway and use local transportation if you get too fatigued. Other costs to be aware of are the nominal entrance fees for using the highway that are collected at each island. They run from ¥200 to ¥50. You can buy a booklet for ¥500 that covers all the tolls.

From Kamodas photosream on Flickr
From Kamoda's photosream on Flickr

The best way to enjoy the trip is to take your time and investigate hidden temples, sample the local soft cream, and take a dip in the ocean after basking in the sun. Luckily, minshyuku and beach camping facilities exist on many of the islands. I suggest Setoda Sunset Beach on Ikuti-jima(生口島). It provides all the facilities you could wish for: beach camping, tent rental, showers, grill and charcoal rentals, etc. Ikuti-jima is the fourth island on the route from Ehime-ken or the third from Hiroshima-ken.

Due to the fact that the route is only 80 km (one-way), you can choose how much or how little time you would like to spend on the trip. For a true cyclist it can be completed in one day, however, I would recommend stopping for 2 nights to really enjoy the views and beaches, because without a doubt this is one of the top short cycling trips in Japan.

From yendo0206s photostream on Flickr
From yendo0206's photostream on Flickr

Odds and Ends

Getting to Ehime from Kyushu:

A ferry runs from the port in Usuki, Oita-ken (大分県臼杵市) to Yawahama City, Ehime-ken (愛媛県八幡浜市), ¥2250. There is also another ferry running from Beppu (別府), ¥3020. From there you can take a train to Imabari 今治駅 (the start of the course from Shikoku). A bus might be a cheaper option, but I don't have the details at the time of this writing.

Alternate Trip Idea

You could also drive the Shimanami-kaidou too. There are plenty of parking options and even rental cars available


Read a write up about cycling the Seto Inland Sea route in the Japan Times.

Another write up by a fellow cyclist.

A guide that has more detailed information on the bridges connecting the islands along the Shimanami-kaido and cultural/sightseeing opportunities.

June 2, 2009

How to Make Umeshyu

The end of May is the perfect time to make Umeshyu (梅酒) before all the plums get ripe.

To complete this recipe you need:
  • 4 liter container with a light fitting inner lid and an outter lid too 4リッター容器
  • 1 kg of green (unripe ume) 青梅
  • .5~1 kg of rock sugar 氷砂糖 (unsure of availability outside Japan) try honey of regular sugar as a substitute
  • 1.8 liters of white liquor ホワイトリカー
Points to remember:
Take the stems off the ume, wash thoroughly, soak in water for 2~4 hours, and dry off an moisture. This will keep the umeshyu from being bitter and astringent.
  • Prep and soaking - 2 1/2 ~ 4 1/2 hours
  • Final steps - 10 minutes

April 20, 2009


The Premier Taiko Group in the World. Their show will be the best taiko you have seen and entertainment that will leave your body beating after the show.

Currently on a World Tour 2009-2010 that spans 4 continents and 11 countries: Canada, America, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Japan, and Australia.

Check out there website:

This video contains the first song performed and the dance that followed. Though there were no signs or announcements saying that filming was prohibited, I was asked to stop filming. I complied out of good will, and I am glad I did because I could focus more on the show instead of my viewfinder. The show only got better from here and then hit steroids in the second act. Think of this as a taste. The real thing will make your blood race.

April 4, 2009

Bonfire Festival

A recap of my recent trip to Dondo Yaki--aka "dangerous and you might catch on fire" festival in Kyushu, Japan. Oh and I cook mochi over a huge bonfire using a 10 meter pole too. Woot.

April 2, 2009

Spring Cleaning

The Japanese school year ends around the end of March and teachers get transferred and placed around the beginning of April. This time of year can either be sad or exciting for the ALT. In the worst case scenario, all your friends leave and in the best all the teachers that rubbed you the wrong way do. I am just a notch below the best case scenario.

There wasn't much for me to complain about before the transfer season came up. The biggest gripes would be that my fellow teachers were advanced in age and that besides very occasional small talk I had little communication with about half the teachers. On the issue of age, the only quip I have is that the older teachers already have kids and are less likely to have time/want to hang out outside of school. On the other hand, one of the things I enjoy must are socializing with some of the older teachers. I have found that having friends that span a wide age range is something that is sorely lacking in American society. As for communication,to be honest I was a little disappointed that those teachers had no interest in talking with me. This can be attributed to a couple of factors: being busy, afraid I would not understand, not wanting to repeat themselves when I didn't understand, personalities didn't click, etc... Everyone in America isn't friends so why should everyone in Japan? I did feel they should at least talk with me because I am the only link to the outside world (not Japan) in these parts and I was hoping they might be interested in what life is like outside of Japan (I've been to Europe, dated a girl from Lesotho, grew-up in America). But maybe that is just me being conceited. I also realize that talking goes both ways and I cannot only chalk this complaint up on their side of the board.

Of all the teachers at my school, 6 were transferred 5 of which were basically non exist for all intents and purposes. The one that was transferred was the youngest one in the office (30) besides me and we actually talked a lot and got together outside of work. Even so, I was excited at the prospects.

After two days, I think I can say that nearly all the incoming teachers look like they will be upgrades! Not only are they for the most part younger, they are also a livelier bunch. Yesterday we switched up the desk arrangement and I scored the 2 youngest teachers of the bunch at my desk grouping. Woot. Not only that, I have had more "actual" conversations with this group than the total 7 months with 5 of the transferred teachers combined. The 2 younger teachers sit across from me and both are talkative and friendly. The new music teacher is funky and interesting. The new vice-principal is "the man" and reminds me of a cowboy. I swear you could put a 10-gallon hat on him and he could be in a John Wayne movie. He also has a sense of humor and a gruff (if I were a women I would say sexy) voice that has no doubt been honed by many years of cigarette smoking. The office lady also seems sweet too.

I noticed a couple things so far. These teachers engage me in 1-on-1 conversation, include me in group conversations, and are interested in what I have to say. That sounds a bit sad, but I have come to learn that when you are in a country where you are not fluent in the language, even though you speak the language to a good degree and are actively studying it, there are people who ignore you or discount you for that simple fact. Perhaps they don't want to spend the time to help you when you don't understand, perhaps they think you are stupid, or maybe they simple don't realize that they are doing it. I think because we often measure intelligence by literacy, vocabulary, comprehension, and general command of language people assume you are unintelligent if you can't seamlessly communicate with them. Even though you obviously have a command of another language (i.e. English) it is not their language. These new teachers and most of the remaining ones treat me like an equal and include me in discussions, ask my opinion, and even explain things without my asking. One even likes to give me little recaps periodically throughout group conversations. He's awesome.

A situation that highlights the difference between these two groups occurred today. Throughout the day, I had had various conversations in the staff room, all in Japanese, mostly with the newly arrived teachers. At the end of the day, one of the remaining teachers that I rarely talk with came over to give me info on an upcoming enkai (party) for the newly arrived teachers. The interaction consisted mostly of pointing at a sheet of paper with said info and her throwing out random words of English. When she got to the time of the party, 18:30, and started to attempt the numbers in English, I said, "I can read numbers" to her in Japanese. She then ran to the Japanese English teacher and said, "help me. Please explain it to XXXXXX." While this whole event was going on I was a little bit puzzled. She obviously heard me speaking with the other teachers in Japanese. Those teachers obviously understood my Japanese because A) we were having a conversation B) they answered the question I asked them C) I answered the questions they asked my accurately and in Japanese. I actually thought to my self this is a funny situation while she was attempting to communicate with me when I had already read the sheet of paper within the first 15 seconds of her coming up to me.

I'm not sure how to deal with this situation. It seems a little preposterous. The only thing I can think of is that she is flustered by non-Japanese people. But really, its the 21st century, she lives in a 1st world country with the 2nd largest economy (China right on its heels), and is working for a school board that has been employing ALTs for the past 20 something years.

Anyways, I am excited about all the new teachers and I am hopefully for the coming year.

March 16, 2009

Japan's Longest Slide

The slide comes in at an incredible 82 meters in length and is on the top of a mountain with a commanding view of western Kyushu's coastal plain. Watch me scream like a little girl, and have the best slide ride of my life. I haven't had this much fun since my first trip to 6-flags in Illinois. The journey to the end of the slide was not with out its dangers. I dodge trees, try not to smash into the sides, and deal with severe vibration that caused me to lose feeling in my rump.

If you are up to the task, I challenge you to respond with a video of your longest slide ride.

March 12, 2009

Radwimps New Album

The Radwimps are releasing a new album this week entitled,アルトコロニーの定理. I can't say that I listen to a lot of Jpop or Japanese music in general, but I am slowly finding out about new groups. The main source being the requests played over the school intercom during lunch and cleaning time. I can't believe we didn't do this when I was in Jr. high and high school. On second thought, it was probably better that we didn't because as soon as people started playing rap songs teachers would preemptively put a halt to it. They don't need to give parents another reason to complain.

とにかく, the Radwimps are really talented and not what I was expecting from a mainstream Japanese music group counsidering the standard sappy Jpop songs that sound likes variations of the same master track. The lead singer actually sings in English quite frequently on the tracks. Normally, this might give a native English speaker reason to pause or listen and laugh, but this is not the case. Yōjirō Noda (野田洋次郎) lived in America for 4 years and has a pretty good grasp of the English language in his lyrics. Not to mention, he has a great voice, varied singing styles, and meaningful lyrics. Here are some songs that give you a taste of their style: Me Me She and 有心論 (yuushinron)

I was talking with a friend and she had already bought the new album, which came out on the 11th of March in Japan. She liked it, but said something about the lyrics were written 2 years ago so things have changed a little bit now. I'll have to pick the album up, aka probably rent it from Tsutaya, to see what she means. describes their style as:
eccentric, with combinations of melodic choruses reminiscent of Mr.Children, the rapped style of Dragon Ash, and the funk of Red Hot Chili Peppers.
I would agree with all of the above.

On a side note, I was talking to the same friend about their songs and how they sung in English and Japanese. She turned to me and said, "yeah, but don't you think there is a little too much English?" I had to pause for a second and then say, "ahem, I don't think so, but I speak English so...." Weird and kind of funny moment.

February 21, 2009



February 19, 2009

February 17, 2009

February 15, 2009

February 4, 2009

How to Make Okonomiyaki

A fun little video I put together on how to make okonomiyaki with readily available ingredients found not only in Japan, but all over the world. This is also my take on a cooking video with a fun opening, music, and dialog that hopefully keeps it interesting throughout the video's entirety[4:58]. Enjoy and make sure you try the recipe out. It is delicious.

January 31, 2009

Behold the King of the Ring

Delicious Okonomiyaki

I recently tried making okonomiyaki and it was as the title of this post says, delicious. I was quite easy to make too with ingredients that are readily available in supermarkets anywhere. The above picture is the result.

January 25, 2009

Pringles in Japan

Its mofoing Pringles time. Now I wasn't really a Pringles fan in America and I can't say that I am in Japan, but I have actually bought them of my own volition here and that has to do solely with the crazy and delicious flavors they come up with. Around Christmas, I snapped these photos at the local supermarket. If Pringles would put these flavors out in America, they might actually save some face and stop losing to Doritos and Tostitos.

First up we have Onion Cheese Gratin, which is looking mighty fine in its pink can. When I first saw it, I was excited because I thought it was lasagna, but on reading the label found out it was not to be :(.

Next, Honey Roasted Chicken. Made to coincide with the Japanese tradition of, you guessed it, buying honey roasted chicken or KFC for Christmas. Some traditions are better left unexplained and not understood. I do give a round of applause to the chicken industry and KFC marketing departments though.

Lastly, Bacon Sour Cream (I guess the potato part is implied). Seemingly the tamest of the three, but still something that I haven't seem from Pringles in the USA.

What are the flavors in your neck of the woods? If you can top this, by all means try. I'm sure when spring comes Pringles Japan will.

January 23, 2009

Video Recap of Winter Vacation & Pictures

This video goes in tandem with the previous post. I talk for about 8 minutes about winter vacation, New Year, and some general observations about Japan and 国内旅行. It ends with a 2 minute slide show composed of my top photos shot during the break, mostly miyajima and Itsukushima Jinja, set to music. Enjoy

January 19, 2009

Miyajima Vacation

After rescheduling my holiday plans at the last minute, I ended up in Miyajima (宮島) for the first-half of the break; visiting Itsukushima Jinja (厳島神社), Iwakuni (岩国), and the Museum of Modern Art in Hiroshima (広島市現代美術館).

The Museum and Itsukushima Jinja were outstanding, and I ate my fill of Hiroshimayaki 広島焼き, yakigaki 焼きがき, and momijimanju もみじ饅頭 while in the area. All were excellent.

For lodging, I had the good fortune of staying at Backpackers Miyajima, which is located right across from the actual island of Miyajima. It was started up by a young Japanese guy who had spent 2 years teaching Japanese in Michigan, USA. He came back to Japan, grew tired of his job, and decided to start up a hostel. It just opened in November of 2008 so everything was new and clean :) In addition, most of the staff are local Hiroshima University students. In my four night stay, I drank with the staff, had some great conversations, and really made some great connections. One of the staff members had done a home stay in Arkansas, USA where my mom's side of the family is from, so we had a lot to talk about.

Perhaps the best park of the stay was the Saturday night takoyaki (たこ焼き) party, where everyone comes together and helps make takoyaki while drinking and talking in the main common area. I met some memorable people from Japan, Venezuela, England, and Finland over drinks. While the hostel is about 25 min outside of downtown Hiroshima, it is definately worth a night or 2 stay. For those of you like me who have already been to Hiroshima and seen the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum etc. this might be a better option, especially if you want to hike Misen Mountain (弥山) and spend more time on Miyajima.

The takoyaki party actually led me to acquire my own takoyaki maker (たこ焼き器) and boy was it worth it. I'm planning my own little takoyaki party soon. Happy New Year and do your best to make your goals for the new year come true.