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 ✌



Shaun's Christmas Break



During Christmas break I visited some family overseas. I was born and raised in America, but most of my family is British, and many of them still live in England. I stayed with my grandparents in Liverpool, England. While I was there I visited some traditional English pubs with my friends. 


My father and I took a day-trip to Wales, which is a small country to the west of England. We hiked some mountains and ate traditional Welsh food. I learned how to speak a little Welsh a few years ago, so it was fun to use the language again. All of the street-signs are in Welsh and English, so it was good practice for me. 


I flew back to Japan on New Year’s day, and it was a long and difficult flight. I do not enjoy flying, but I do enjoy watching movies for 13 hours. I'm glad to be back in Japan!




Chris' Winter Vacation


This winter vacation was very relaxing. I spent most of my time at home. At home I would watch movies and cook O-Nabe. On January 2nd I went to Oita-ken, Beppu City to enjoy the hot spring. It was very relaxing. I took the ferry from Tokuyama station and saw many mountains along the way. The hot spring was very nice, but there were many tourists there. Even though it was a boring vacation, I was able to rest and relax, so it was very enjoyable for me. Next year I plan to go on a bigger vacation, hopefully I can go to Hokkaido.





Christmas and New Year's Holidays


Jasmin here! I spent my holidays on many planes traveling around the world to see family and friends!


First stop was Dallas to visit my father's side of the family. He has five brothers and sisters who are all married and have children. When we are together there are more than 25 of us! I flew into Seattle and was able to see the beautiful Mt. Rainier from the plane's window.


Next, it was off to Istanbul. I lived in Istanbul for almost one year after graduating university. I enjoyed one of my favorite meals: a traditional Turkish breakfast. It includes eggs, sausage, fresh clotted cream, honey, fresh bread, and many cups of strong tea. I also visited some famous Turkish bazaars. 


Did you do any traveling to ring in the new Year?



Winter Vacation



Hello! I'm Allison!


I hope you all enjoyed your winter holidays!

My winter vacation was a lot of fun. I spent six days in Tokyo with some of my friends. We had a very good time sightseeing in different parts of Tokyo. Especially fun was going to Odaiba. We rode the Ferris wheel, did some shopping, and saw the Gundam statue.



I really enjoyed the Venus Fort mall. The ceiling makes it look like you are outside! It was very interesting.


After that, I spent a few days in Kobe. I tried Akashiyaki for the first time. It was very delicious!


I also visited a local shrine for New Year and made a prayer for my future hopes.

Do you have any New Year's resolutions?