Plum blossom

Sweet Plums

It’s mid-February, and it feels like spring is just around the corner. As winter begins to draw to an end, the warmer weather brings out one of my favourite flowers: the plum blossoms! Despite looking very similar, the ume (plum blossoms) are very much overshadowed by the sakura (cherry blossoms). I think it’s safe to…

Tokyo Snow

Setagaya in the Snow

The entire country, bar the subtropical Okinawan islands, has entered a deep freeze this week. On Monday, a snowstorm swept across Honshu, and Tokyo welcomed its first heavy snowfall since the “snowpocalypse” of 2014. It usually snows only a few days a year, and rarely enough each time to accumulate on the ground. So of…

The Monkeys of Hell Valley

With their gentle pink faces and thick fluffy coats, the snow monkeys have to be one of the cutest wild animals in Japan. I’ve encountered Japanese macaques in a few different areas – Kamikochi, Tateyama, Kyoto – but nowhere is comparable to seeing them at Jigokudani Yaen-koen. Deep in the mountains of northern Nagano, a…

To Market, to Market

There’s less than one week till Christmas! I hope everyone is ready… presents bought and wrapped, Christmas tree up, ugly Christmas sweater (that you secretly love) waiting to be worn! Isn’t it just the best time of the year? One of things I love about celebrating Christmas in the northern hemisphere are the Christmas markets.…

Snow Magic in Sapporo

Sapporo, the city of the north… Despite it’s harsh winter weather and average annual snowfall of about 6 metres, it’s surprisingly Japan’s 5th largest city. It’s not constantly dark and gloomy, though. Just think, endless chances to have snowball fights, make snow angels, go skiing, eat fresh seafood, slurp down miso ramen – there’s a lot to love! And there’s one more…

The Life of a Plum Blossom

Plums, called ume in Japanese, are arguably more a part of Japanese culture than the cherry blossoms. The sakura are so short-lived that I feel like if you blink you’ll miss them, and then it’s all over for another year. Whereas the plum blossoms stick around for a good month or more. But not only is the flower…

Snowy Tokyo

I love having Fridays off work, but today is extra exciting!! I’m sitting here in a café 26 floors up. Looking out of these giant glass windows, all I can see is a vast sea of ‘white’! It’s bizarre but very cool seeing snowy roof tops in Tokyo. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was snow country, but it actually…

City of Lights: Tokyo in Winter

My Top 6 Winter Illumination Spots in Tokyo No. 6 – Yebisu Garden Place In the trendy district of Ebisu lies a shopping complex by the name of Yebisu Garden Place. Yebisu is a popular Japanese beer, and there used to be a brewery here about 25 years ago. The winter illuminations aren’t too extensive, but…