The night bus

Travel between Japan's two largest cities can be done in a mere two hours via the Shinkansen bullet train, which rockets through the country at speeds up to 200 mph (~300 km/h). Alternatively, you could pay more and take seven and half hours and ride a bus.

Read More

How free is Japan's press?

When it comes to historical truths, Japan does not have the best reputation. School textbooks are notorious for glossing over the nastier of Japan's wartime activities, while the government is periodically caught in verifiable lies worthy of Trump's inauguration numbers. But how does this feed into the daily news coverage in modern day Japan?

Read More

Life at Sun

The Hokkaido Sun Guest House was right in my neighbourhood, situated between my apartment and closest supermarket. The fact I couldn't find it was therefore perturbing.  

Read More

I become (temporarily) homeless

"What about tomorrow?" The three men in the blue uniforms of the Sekai moving company were crowded around a cupboard containing shoes. This is a standard feature right by the entrance of any Japanese apartment: the movers had not yet got further into my home.

"It's fine," I assured them in my limited Japanese. "You can pack everything."

"But... tomorrow..." One of the movers looked across from the cupboard and gaped in shock. "Aahh!" he pointed at my feet. His two colleagues crowded close. "She's wearing shoes."

Read More

My head gets examined

Even with earplugs, the noise was loud.

Click. Whir. Tic tic tic. Klonk.

I stared up at the plastic contraption holding my head in place and thought: How does anyone have sex in here?

Read More

The ballerina

"Are you here on holiday?"

The answer was bound to be 'yes'. I had fallen into conversation with the elderly lady sitting beside me as we had sought out the shuttle bus to transfer to the airport's domestic terminal. I was connecting from Tokyo to Sapporo, she was bound for Osaka. Judging from her accent, we had both just stepped off the London Heathrow flight. 

Read More