Pride towers amid ongoing woes

| Nov 7, 2007

Pride towers amid ongoing woes

In 1669, the Ainu leader Shakushain, who rose up and united the Ainu in rebellion against Japanese invaders, was called on to observe a truce, and invited to a banquet in his honor. The Matsumae clan, who had established a foothold on the island ...

'Stoopid ninja' keeps on learning

| Oct 3, 2007

'Stoopid ninja' keeps on learning

T he first time I ever heard cicadas was in 1963, during my very first summer in Japan. I was wandering through a small mixed woodland where some small boys were flitting from tree to tree, playing ninja. I, as a strange young foreigner ...

High times away from summer's heat

| Sep 5, 2007

High times away from summer's heat

Early in August, when Japan’s big cities were really beginning to cook and parasols were in full bloom in the sultry streets, we again invited a group of children to escape the stifling lowland heat and come up to our woods for a few ...

A tale of morels

| Aug 1, 2007

A tale of morels

I have a Canadian friend, Nedd Kenney, a brilliant scholar, musician and fieldworker who now lives on Baffin Island off the northeast coast of Canada. It was Nedd who got me my first bhodran (Irish drum), and came to my house in Kurohime, in ...

A very special friend

| Jul 4, 2007

A very special friend

Last year, on June 10, my dear friend Eiji Nakahara died. He was 65. Many readers will remember Eiji, owner and gifted chef of the Tatsunoko pension here in Kurohime. Especially during those heady “bubble” years of the mid 1980s, and through to the ...

Breakfast with rodents

| Apr 4, 2007

Breakfast with rodents

Iwas home alone the other evening when I heard a scuttling sound coming from the kitchen. Two mice had climbed up a strut in the woodwork of the sink counter and jumped down into the compost bucket below, which just had a few centimeters ...

| Mar 7, 2007

Coo-ee! Or how to snipe posh pigeons

Iwas just turned 20, and earlier in the year I had quit teachers’ training college in the genteel Cotswolds town of Cheltenham in rural western England. I was earning money by working part-time at a slaughterhouse as a skinner, helping out as a bouncer ...