How to make coffee: Japanese style

So you’re at the office and need a morning coffee. The vending machine and its canned coffee is too far away, you hate instant coffee and the school has no coffee maker… what do you do?

Easy. Just make yourself some Japanese style individual sized drip coffee.


1. Get a package like this one. As a foreigner it is one of the many weekly gifts I have received from the amazing Japanese staff.


2. Put the container on your cup


3. Fill your cup with hot water from the ubiquitous hot water keeper


4. Toss the container in the food waste bin in the sink. Not the garbage, never the garbage, unless you want a crew of concerned looking Japanese ladies to explain the garbage sorting process to you in excruciating detail every time you walk near the garbage. Also not for the garbage? Banana peels, apple cores, and leftover rice.


5. Yum!



Seriously the staff gives me so many gifts! Today alone I received that coffee, two cookies, two snacks, some grapes and that sweet Yamato High School graduation 2006 mug!



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Japan’s Weird Food: Oden

I suppose Oden would actually be classified as a kind of food rather than a food itself. Eggs, fish cakes, gluten tubes, tofu, konnyaku and daikon radish are stewed in dashi broth. The result is greyish versions of those foods.

The weird part about them is that these are served in convenience stores. At 7-11, Lawson or Family Mart, you can find a big pot of Oden next to the fried chicken stand. I have never been brave enough to request an item from there, but I did try an Oden fish cake at a restaurant once. Verdict? Meh.

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May 5th is Children’s Day in Japan. It used to be known as boys day, but because girls day, in march, is not a public holiday, they changed the name to be more inclusive. Families with boys hang these kites shaped like carp, Koinobori, outside of their houses.

The carp was chosen because it represents determination and strength. The Black kite represents the father, Red, the mother and the Blue, the children. I am not sure about the multicoloured kite on top, and no Japanese person I’ve asked yet has been able to explain it.

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Hiking in Yakushima – Japanese Paradise

On our second day in Yakushima we woke up early to begin our hiking adventure. And by early I mean 9:30. By which time most of the serious hikers have been on the trail for 3 hours. We were headed to the slightly easier and shorter  Shiratani Unsuikyo trail, also known as the Princess Mononoke forest hike. We did two different hikes here, the first a 5 km trek through yakusugi trees, or yakushima cedar trees. These trees are thousands of years old. Some Japanese people believe them to have magical properties. They were amazing, the largest trees I have ever seen!

Then we took a 4km hike through the moss covered forest said to be the inspiration for the settings of Princess Mononoke, a famous Japanese animation film. Everything was covered in moss and astonishingly beautiful. It was like stepping into another world. I’ve never seen anything so green. At the end of the hike there is a look out point which involves a 1/4 km practically vertical climb to the top. As I struggled up, I saw a blind man with a seeing eye dog on his way down, so there was no backing out. At the top is a rock that looks over the mountains and valleys, it was extremely windy!

After our hiking adventure, which took over 7 hours due to our slow pace and copious photo breaks, we headed to our favourite diner, stax cafe for a pick me up of french toast and taco wraps.

You can’t hike in Japan without visiting hot springs afterward, so we went to a spectacular seaside onsen to relax.

Things were going too well, so on our way out we dropped the key to the hostel down the sewer. Luckily, we were able to mcguiver it up using branches and grass and got out of there seconds before the rain came. Perfection.

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Ring Ring Ring Ring… Banana Phone!

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Japan’s weird food: Okonomiyaki

In this case, weird definitely means ‘we don’t have that in Canada’ rather than ‘ewww’.

Okonomiyaki is a pancake shaped mix of water, flour, eggs, bean sprouts and cabbage, fried on a grill with various toppings. I think the name means ‘anything you want: fried’ and that’s really what it is. My current favourite is the pizza flavour at a shop near my school: bacon, corn, cheese and egg.

Okonomiyaki is especially great because you usually get to see it made in front of you. Most Okonomiyaki places have tables with grills right in them, so you can cook the mixture yourself. After it finishes cooking, you slather it with a delicious mystery sauce, mayonnaise, fish flakes and seaweed.

Yum Yum Yum Yum!

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