There’s a noise some Japanese people make when hearing something moderately interesting or unusual. It starts at the back of their throat, rises in pitch and might be written as “eurgh!” If, for example, you were to say you’re eschewing their brilliant rail system in favour of driving a rental..
Tag Archives: Japan
Images gathered during six trips to Japan, most notably for the Travel Volunteer Project.
Kuniko is nervous. It’s not her smile that betrays her, nor her steady English, but her hand, which trembles as she pours me a coffee in the newly-constructed Kinsei Lounge at Hakata Station. I don’t think I’m responsible for her nervousness and after a year or so of training, you..
A few years ago, before its streets were awash with violent anti-government protests and doctors and journalists were being jailed, I went to Bahrain to learn about their pearl trade. For a long time, pearl diving had been the tiny island-nation’s main industry. When the season was in full flow,..
Six months ago, my friend, mentor and sometime drinking partner Stephen Phelan stood where we are standing now. That day in Onagawa, Miyagi prefecture, the view was not pretty. “In the middle of town, near the seafront, a few buildings remained upright, though stripped down to red metal frames and..
At the start of the 17th century and the beginning of the Edo Period, Japan decided it didn’t want foreign friends any more. Citing moral decline, the arrival of alien religions and the wicked vices of the wider world, it closed its doors and entered a period of self-isolation known..
They say in the original Gaelic it means “water of life” but in most of my experiences whisky has had the opposite effect. I first tried it at the age of 11 during a family holiday to the Scottish Highlands. We’d visited a distillery and had a tasting at the..
My grandfather was in it from the very start, lying about his age so he could join up early. His first missions in the Second World War came on the notorious Russian Convoys, when British ships would navigate icy North Sea, around the Norwegian coast, sneaking past German forces to..