Will supply meet mosquitoes' demand?

| Jul 23, 2011

Will supply meet mosquitoes' demand?

“Are there always this many mosquitoes?” says a tourist, slapping his bare legs with his hands as he comes down the stone staircase from the Shinto shrine behind my house. This ancient staircase that goes up the mountain and into the forest is a ...

| Jul 16, 2011

What a waste! A human waste

Meet Ususama Myo-ou. He purifies the unclean. He hangs out in bathrooms. He’s the guardian deity of the toilet. I’m thinking of inviting him to do a residency. Here’s why. As you may know, in the countryside in Japan many houses still have pit-style ...

On rock worship and the Shinto gods

| Jul 9, 2011

On rock worship and the Shinto gods

On my morning jogs on Shiraishi Island, I pass many things: some scary (spiders and snakes), some interesting (what’s been washed up on the beach overnight) and some spiritual. The other day I had to take a detour to avoid a Shinto priest and ...

| Jul 2, 2011

Long and short of pet grooming

“Wow, what’s that?” I asked Mrs. Amano. In her arms she was holding a furry thing with whiskers. I couldn’t quite recognize the animal as it had tufts of hair sticking out all over it — like a hexagram with a cat face in ...

| Jun 25, 2011

Kannon: the goddess of mercy and pets

Today I’d like to introduce you to someone so important, she may change your life. She has been a highly revered VIP for years, and is a household name in Japan, China and India. Although she is relatively unknown to the Western world, her ...

| Jun 18, 2011

Becoming one with spiders and snakes

If you stay on a small island in the middle of the Seto Inland Sea long enough, you will become one with nature. Mainly because there is nothing else to become one with, except for maybe alcohol. Being one with nature isn’t just convening ...

| Jun 11, 2011

How I saved ¥40,000 doing it myself

The day I leave Japan, the country will be worse off for it. The Japanese will have lost a cartoon character in their comic strip of life. Once I am gone, who will they laugh at? I am here to ensure the entire country ...

| Jun 4, 2011

Navigating your way around Japan

Ever since I moved to Japan I’ve heard the Japanese say, “Nihon wa chiisai kuni desu” (Japan is a small country), with the underlying meaning that this fact is responsible for many of Japan’s weaknesses. Foreigners are quick to point out that England is ...

Here comes the rainy season boot camp

| May 28, 2011

Here comes the rainy season boot camp

It’s May and Kyushu has already officially entered the rainy season. The rest of Japan is not far behind. What, no spring? Well, we all know what happened to spring this year. It headed to the Middle East: The Arab Spring. Let someone else ...

| May 21, 2011

Sunny today with a chance of margaritas

When I first moved to the “Harenokuni Okayama (Sunny Okayama)” prefecture, I couldn’t help but imagine how lazy the weather forecasters must be. I envisioned them laying in hammocks with margaritas in their hand while spewing out the weekly forecast — “Sunny every day!” ...