Japan’s weird food: extremely expensive fruits.

Almost all fruit is a little more expensive here, with the exception of bananas, which are a steal at 6 for $1.00! Apples are $1.50 – $2.50 each and some strawberries can set you back close to $10.00. However, some fruits are out of control expensive, notably melons!

Cantaloupe $30.00














Watermelon $70.00













It is considered the height of politeness to bring fruit as a hostess gift. When I last invited Japanese people to my home they brought me a $25 grapefruit!

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Awesomesauce stickers!

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Visiting a Shinto Shrine: Ema

These wooden plaques, or ema, are found at all shinto shrines in Japan. For a few hundred yen you can buy a plaque and write your wish on it in the hope that the shrine deities will grant it.

These ema were at a love shrine in Kyoto, so these messages are wishing for luck in love. At this shrine you can also try to gain luck in love by walking between two stones with your eyes closed. Unfortunately, when I tried it, I veered far off course and into an elderly Japanese man. Whoops.

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Japan’s weird food: Mentaiko

Mentaiko, Mentaiko, Mentaiko. Eugh.

Mentaiko is marinated pollock roe, and happens to be one of the most famous foods in Fukuoka prefecture. I won’t say much about it here, except that it looks like this:

and people mix it with Mayonnaise and eat it on spaghetti. hmmm.

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We had a long weekend here this week, Monday being the official start of spring! To celebrate the season and the day off work, we headed to Yakushima, an island off the south coast of Kyushu known for it’s natural beauty. As we have been distracted the last few weeks, I did relatively little research before arriving, and Yakushima took my breath away.


The entire island is mountains and forests, with just one small road running around the perimeter. Monkeys and Deer can be found sitting on the side of the road, mangrove forests surround the road, and there are hundreds of waterfalls. It was absolutely gorgeous.

We lucked out and got a car rental tip from someone at our hostel in Kagoshima and scored a car for two days for about $100. The people in Japan are so incredibly nice and trusting. Insurance was included and they didn’t take any credit card information. That afternoon we drove around the island, making stops to see the Pillow shaped lava fields,

wade in a mangrove forest river

see an epic waterfall

hang out with the monkeys

and enjoy Kagoshima BBQ!

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Earthquake and Tsunami

It’s been a few days since the earthquake and tsunami that have devastated the northeast of Japan. I have been touched by all the supportive messages and phone calls. Thank you! The situation in Fukuoka is still normal. We have not been directly affected by the earthquake or tsunami, or power outages or food shortages.

We are continuing to monitor the situation at the nuclear power plants, but right now I’m not worried. For one thing we are living very far away from that area. I know Japan seems pretty small, but Fukuoka is over 1,400 km from the affected area, Tohoku. Right now people are understandably worried about their friends and relatives living in the north.

Some of our graduating students were in Tokyo at the time of the earthquake, and had to spend the night at Tokyo Disney Land. Fortunately they all made it home safely. Donation sites have been set up all over the country, at train stations and at schools to collect money for tsunami relief.

To donate from outside of Japan please visit the red cross:

We continue to receive updates from the Canadian government and our contracting organization in Kyushu, so I am feeling pretty well informed even if I can’t follow Japanese news.