Welcome to 2018

Happy 2018 everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful and exciting break whether it was seeing family, catching up with friends or enjoying some peace and quiet.

For me, I chose to do a 10 day round trip of Japan with my good friend and fellow SES teacher, Taz! We managed to visit 6 prefectures (one by accident), see USJ, Disney Land, Disney Sea, visit Temples, Shrines, shop, eat, be tourists, get lost and most important of all, have fun!

I will try and make this blog as short as possible so here are a few photo highlights from the trip. Enjoy.

December 25th - Found Hogwarts
Our first stop was Osaka and we simply could not resist visiting the famous Universal Studios Japan. As a major Harry Potter fan I was like a child at Christmas (literally) and when we were walking around the place I could do nothing but smile. I had so much fun here and I definitely recommend that you visit if you haven't already. And don't forget to take a ride on the Flying Dinosaur! 
December 26th - Beat the crowds at Fushimi Inari
When we told people we were going to do Kyoto in a day they all laughed. But as 5am came we embraced the journey from Osaka and our first stop had to be Fushimi Inari! It felt great beating the tourists and we got to take loads of cool pictures. If you want to come here, I would recommend coming early in the morning or late at night, by the time we left at 9am the place was already starting to become crowded.
December 26th - Made our very own ramen!
Here is Taz and myself making our very own ramen (from scratch). We booked this place just before we went and it was such a fun experience and the food was delicious! The shop is called Ramen Factory Kyoto and I definitely recommend that you come here. The staff were great and the shop also does Halal meat (a rare find in Shunan!) so it gets double the bonus points for that.

December 26th - saw the Kinkaku-ji! 
 Still on our Kyoto adventures we felt that we could not miss Kinkaku-ji! Although there were lots of  tourists here the place wasn't too crowded and we managed to take several amazing pictures like the one above. The temple is breathtaking and definitely worth checking out when in Kyoto! 
December 29th - Disney Land day!
 As we made our way North of Japan to Chiba we decided to embrace the winter coldness and visit both Disney land and Disney sea. Both were incredible and I was far too excited by all the magic and detail in both parks. Although I do prefer Disney Sea, Disney land was also so much fun and it was my first time ever at a Disney park which made the experiences extra special. 
December 31st - Saw the New Year in Shibuya crossing
Here am I in Shibuya crossing at New Years. The atmosphere here was amazing and so much fun, and I enjoyed celebrating the new year here because everyone was so happy! After the countdown we went and sang karaoke (very badly) and danced our way into 2018.
January 1st - Became a samurai for the day
After having a much needed sleep we woke up and headed straight to the Samurai museum in Tokyo. We did a guided English tour which took maybe 1 hour 30 minutes to complete but it was so worth it. Not only is the museum fascinating and the tour staff informative and funny, but the tour is very interactive and we got to dress up like Samurai at the end.
January 2nd - Saw Mt. Fuji, our last stop before home!
Our last stop before our flight back to reality was to visit Mt Fuji. And before you ask, no we didn't climb it! However, it was breathtaking to see and no photos do the mountain justice. Hopefully one day I will have climbed Mt. Fuji but for now, seeing it in real life was good enough for me.

And there you are! They were my ten days travelling Japan. I am hoping to do lots more travelling in the future as I want to tick off every prefecture in Japan. So far I have visited 10/47 prefectures in 2 months, so I think I'm doing a pretty good job! 

Thanks and once again Happy New year!





One of the main reasons I came to Japan was to try as much food as possible. There are so many choices of food here in Japan. My favorite type of food is soup, so I usually like to eat udon, somen, soba, or…


Of all the foods that are available in Japan, I think the most delicious and easily available is ramen. Ramen is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to eat a very delicious meal. I often eat ramen at least once a week, but occasionally three times a week.


In this article, I will list my “Top 3” Ramen choices in Shunan City. I will rank them in ascending order, from three to one. I realize there are many choices and other people’s choice will be different. These are my personal choices for the best ramen in Shunan.


Number 3: Tori-No-Suke “Tori Paitan”
第3位 とりの助 

I chose Tori-No-Suke as my number three because it is simple and delicious. Most ramen shops in Shunan serve Tonkotsu ramen, but Tori-No-Suke serves something different. The roasted pork at Tori-No-Suke is very soft and full of flavor, but the real star here is the broth, which is made from chicken. The broth is creamy, like Tonkotsu, but does not have a strange smell, and tastes lighter.

とりの助 のラーメンはシンプルでおいしいです。周南のラーメンはほとんどが豚骨ですが、ここのラーメンは違うんです。・・・

Number 2: Yasushiboy “Shoyu-Tonkotsu”

第2位 ヤスシボーイ 

I chose Yasushiboy because it is a very, very delicious soup. The shop is located in Kume and does not look special, but the ramen here is amazing! The double soup gives it an extra savory flavor and the noodles are also unique because they are flat. I also really like the free bowl of rice at Yasushiboy. The price here is also very good.


Number 1: Kaoru “Tori Soba”

第1位 カヲル

I chose Kaoru as my number one choice because it is the best ramen I have eaten in Japan (so far). The soup is unique because it is chicken base, but it is not heavy, like Tori-No-Suke. It is available in either a salt base or soy sauce base. The broth tastes like pure chicken flavor and is very clear. After you finish your meal, you do not feel tired like other ramen shops. Another great point is that the chef uses ingredients from Yamaguchi Prefecture, so everything is fresh.


Written By David Press-Dawson.


Akiyoshido Cave

Hi everyone, it’s Taz again.


We decided to go to Akiyoshido Cave in Mine during the Obon break.  It was a lovely, sunny day – there were 3 of us and we drove there.  We managed to find parking with ease as there were a lot of small parking lots with prices stated in big writing.


We went to the ticket office for the cave, looking at the restaurants and gift shops as we passed.  At the ticket office, we asked about the discount for foreigners, but we had forgotten to take our passports!  I had a picture of my passport on my phone, so luckily I received a discount!


As soon as we stepped out of the ticket office the beautiful sights hit us.  We began taking pictures straight away, of course!

The walk up to the cave was amazing, with a beautiful preview of what was waiting for us inside.

Once we stepped inside, it took a short while for our eyes to adjust to the darkness – such a change from the bright and sunny day outside.


We were amazed by the breathtaking sights of the cave – as we walked uphill and downhill inside the caves we were in awe of the sights.

Some parts of the cave had been named – here are some of the ones we found funny…

We came out at the other end of the cave, but didn’t know where we were or how to get back to the car!  We decided to walk back through the cave to get back to the start…


I would love to go back to the cave with some of the new teachers, and this time maybe explore some of the surrounding areas as well.


Keep an eye out to hear more about my adventures in Japan!



I enjoy Japan!

Hi everyone! It’s Alex. I’m from Seattle, so I’m really enjoying the colder temperatures recently. I’ve been in Japan for almost 7 months now. I love it here. Japan is so beautiful and I love traveling all around, especially in the Japanese countryside. Every chance I get, I love to surround myself in Japanese nature and look at the beauty.



I’ve been to Miyajima many times, and recently I went this fall, to see some of the leaves.

Here are some pictures from my nature walking around Miyajima.


Here are some pictures from my nature walking around Miyajima.

I also hiked to the top of Mt. Misen. I didn’t use the ropeway, I really enjoyed the challenging hike.


I also recently went to Mikuradake, a small mountain in Hiroshima Prefecture.


Here is Mikuradake. I went to the top of the middle peak.

Here is me at the top of Mikuradake. The sun was very bright! And there was a tiny bit of snow falling. The hike was very challenging. It was very steep near the top, so there was a chain that we had to climb to reach the top. It was so fun.


Japanese food is so delicious. I love eating sashimi. Since it’s getting colder now, I am really enjoying ramen. I like going to new ramen shops and trying different kinds of ramen. I’m looking forward to trying some winter nabe. 


So far I’m really loving Japan. I hope to do more hiking in the future, trying many more different kinds of food, learning more about Japan, and most of all looking forward to summer when I can go swimming in the seas surrounding Japan. 



Climbing Mount Taikazan

Hi everyone,


It’s Taz here – I’m from Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England.  I have been in Japan for about 4 months now and I am really enjoying it here!


I am not a very fit or active person but I recently decided to climb Mount Taikazan in Shunan!  All of the other teachers were busy or didn’t want to go, so I decided to climb it alone.  I used my phone’s navigation system to get to the bottom of the mountain, then I parked my car and walked up.  I considered walking up one of the trails, but I saw a sign warning me of snakes!  😱


I decided to just walk along the road which the cars take to get to the top of the mountain.  I took some beautiful photos of the sights along the way up…


…and once I got to the top.

It was very quiet going up – I only saw 1 other person as I was climbing the mountain and, once I got to the top, I saw another 4 or 5 people.


I enjoyed the sights so much that I decided to go up Mount Taikazan again the following week, but this time I wanted to see the sunset from the top, so I decided to drive up.  I drove up and enjoyed the peaceful view at the top of the mountain, again taking lots of pictures.


It was a bit scary walking around in the dark afterwards, when I went to find my car!  😕


The weather is a bit colder now but I hope to climb up again in the Spring, as I think it will be beautiful in a different way!


Hopefully I will add more about my adventures soon…  🙂



My life in Japan so far...



Hello everyone it's Amy...

Here's me at 2am on the day I left
....and I'm here to tell you all about my first month living here in Shunan, Japan.


When I first arrived into Tokuyama train station I was tired, confused, and a little worse for wear! I had just spent the last 42 hours travelling all the way from Manchester in England to a very rainy Japan, and all I could think about was having a hot shower, drinking a cup of coffee and going to sleep.

But before I tell you about all of that, here's a little information about myself.


I am 24 years old (as of November 11th) and I was born and raised in Rotherham, England. I am the youngest in my family and I have been living in York in England for the last five years. I studied Psychology at York St. John University and I have a slight obsession with shoes!


When I first told my family and friends that I wanted to move to Japan they asked me why. Why?
There are many reasons that made me want to come to Japan, I love the people, I love the culture, I love the scenery and most important of all...I love the food!

私が日本に行きたいと言ったとき、家族が どうして?なぜ? と聞いてきました。たくさんの理由がありますが、人々、文化、景色、、そして何といっても、日本食が大好きなんです!

But enough about me, take a look at what I have done in my first few weeks of being here.


Hopefully as you can see by my photos I have already explored some of the things to do in the Yamaguchi prefecture. I highly recommend driving through the mountains at this time of year as the changing of the leaves is simply breathtaking.


Shrine in the mountains

Here we drove for around 40 minutes where we found two amazing cafe's out in the woods. We drank hot chocolate, ate food and admired the views.


This was a cool semi-abandoned shrine that we found on a short walk from one cafe to the next.


View from Hikari beach 
Part of my job involves teaching in a few different locations, one of which is in Hikari city. Hikari is about a 20 minute drive from my house in Shunan and has a really quiet beach where you can enjoy watching the waves roll in and letting the world pass you by.


I am looking forward to spending more time here when the weather is nice and warm!


Admiring the Koi fish in Kanyo-ji Temple
Last weekend I went to visit the Kanyo-ji Temple which is a 45 minute drive from Shunan centre and is in such a beautiful location. We explored the Temple for only 300 yen and enjoyed the peace and quiet when we were there. 


After visiting the Temple we walked around Kanokami and went to a few more shrines before heading home for the day. I highly recommend that you come here in Autumn as the views in the Temple and around the mountains are spectacular. 


Observing an Aikido class

I went to observe an Aikido lesson during my spare time on Sunday. It was amazing to see everyone perform the moves and work together. It was a very good experience and I enjoyed watching the class. I am hoping to join an adult Aikido class at some point this year so stay tuned!


Surprise Birthday party thrown by my students
And finally here's a photo of me! My students threw me a lovely surprise Birthday party with cake and presents, topped off with this amazing decoration! It was such an amazing gesture and I can't wait to continue my teaching journey here in Japan! 


Thanks for reading,



A quick selfie under the torii

Hello everyone! You know, it's true what they say—time flies!  I can't believe I've already been in Japan for 10 months.  So far, I think the overall highlight has been getting to know all of my students here at SES.  Specifically in regards to travel though, I would have to say my time in Kyoto has been my favorite experience.



I went in August over the Obon holiday, so it was very hot and humid; even so, I still had a wonderful time! First, I went straight to Kobe and visited two very dear friends of mine from my days as a university student.  They are a married couple and have lived in Japan now for five years.  I had a great time catching up with them and reminiscing old times. After a few days in Kobe and Osaka, I was off to Kyoto!  Of course, I wanted to visit the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine! However, as we all know, this shrine is very popular and is often very crowded with tourists. So, I set my alarm to 4:00 AM in my capsule hotel bunk, which was probably much to the chagrin of others sleeping around me.  Admittedly, I may have hit the snooze button a few times before groggily crawling out of my bunk.  Nevertheless, I arrived around 5:30 AM.  



If you enjoy photography, you may know that dawn and dusk provide the perfect lighting for pictures!  There were only a few other tourists around and I was able to capture all of the images I wanted without anyone getting in the way of my shot!

  Fushimi Inari Taishi at 5:30 AM with no tourists!

I even made a new friend with a fellow solo traveler while I was there!  She was from China and her name was Chen Yang.   We lazily walked through all of the torii and traversed Mt. Inari in its entirety together.  Overall, I loved how the historical essence could still be felt in Kyoto alongside the modernity of a 21st century city.  Most of all, I loved seeing the Japanese couples in their traditional yukatas walking hand-in-hand together around the city—kawaii! 

そこで、中国から来たChen Yangさんという女性と友達になりました。


Summer yukatas at the Kyoto Imperial Palace

To see the rest of my photos from Kyoto, you'll have to visit www.instagram.com/bentravels


-Ben Powers ✌