Ever since I found a strange coin in my mum’s button box, I’ve been curious about Japan. The coin was bronze coloured and round and had a square hole in the middle. It had strange writing on it. I think my dad’s cousin must have brought it home from the Korean War in the 1950s. I was told it was Japanese.

Around the same time, a cartoon started to play on UK tv – Battle of the Planets. This was my first encounter with anime. I loved it.

And then the 1980s struck, when design started to take Japanese art as a reference point. I had a sweatshirt with a map of the main Japanese islands on it. I made a cushion in Home Economics at school which featured an approximation of the old Japanese flag on one side and some tasty bamboo-style lettering alongside the modern Japanese rising sun on the other.

Decades later, when I met the man who is now my husband, one of the first things we found we had in common was our interest in Japan and all things Japanese. We went to Japan on honeymoon, thinking it was a chance in a lifetime thing, and we’d never have another chance to visit the place we both dreamed about. 18 months later, using some of the money from the sale of my house, we visited again. We made our third trip after another 18 months of saving up. We seem to be going every year now and are constantly thinking about the next trip!

The dream is to go out there to live and work, although we have no idea how we’re going to achieve this.

Meanwhile, this blog is a random scattering of pictures I took while in Japan, posts about things I’ve found while trawling the web, and the occasional thoughts I have about Japan and Japanese culture.

~Copyright Stuff~

Everything written on this blog (except for the occasional quote, which will be in speech marks to make it obvious) is either my opinion or a recollection of things I’ve seen and done.  That makes the words in this blog my copyright.  Please respect that.  The images that appear were all taken by me and are either drawn from my Flickr account or uploaded from my computer.  Again, they’re my copyright, so please don’t steal.  I don’t steal other people’s images to use here and I don’t see why anyone should use mine.

19 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jane M. Newby on 22/01/2014 at 4:11 pm

    My husband and I lived and worked in Japan for two years, up in the Tohoku region. (In fact I have written a book about those two years, “In Japan’s Backcountry,” available at Amazon.) Anyhow, my husband was a high school librarian on an American base, and I tutored and taught English. Have you thought of teaching English in Japan? I know many people who have done so.


    • Hello Jane – I have thought about teaching English. I know a couple of people who have done it. My husband is a stop motion animator, though, and there is only one studio currently making stop-mo, so it would be incredibly difficult for him to find work. I don’t think he would enjoy teaching English!


  2. Hi there Mrs. Hicks. I found your blog by reading your review of Deep Kyoto Walks. Great review, great pictures, and great blog. I’m writing to tell you about a project I am working on, as I thought you’d be interested in it. I make Japanese paper and books, and I’m working with two other artists to create maps of Edo period Japan. This is something very special to us, and we’re wanting to share it with as many fellow Japanophiles as we can. Here is a link to our project: http://kck.st/1nSBmwO

    I hope you’ll take a look!


  3. That’s great that you’re able to visit Japan so often. I have been living here since 1990.

    Please check my blog:


    • I know! We don’t really have any other holiday, long weekends/city breaks excepted. Japan is our big one and much more rewarding than any number of beach holidays. I suppose if we had children it would be different! I’m going to have a good look round your blog. We like going to festivals, so will check out your Festivals page.


      • >I’m going to have a good look round your blog.

        Thank you. Please comment often!

        >We like going to festivals, so will check out your Festivals page.

        Thanks. Have you seen any festivals in Japan before?

      • We’ve been to one in Asakusa accidentally – the Sanja Matsuri was happening the first time we stayed in Tokyo. We were innocently wandering around Nakamise in front of Sensōji when we heard a lot of chanting and drumming. We got caught up in the first afternoon of the mikoshi parade! And the festival continued the entire weekend we were there. It was great! We’ve also had some planned festival encounters – the Kurama Hi no Matsuri north of Kyoto, the Jidai Matsuri in Kyoto, the Kyō Odori, the peach blossom festival on Miyajima. We’d love to see more. We were in Aomori earlier this year and want to return to see the Nebuta Matsuri.

  4. I love to read about travels to Japan and all things Japanese, so I’m going to be following your blog (through Feedly, not WordPress). Thanks for sharing.


  5. I’m so glad that I’ve had a chance to look at your blog. I have spent many years in Japan, learning Japanese since I was 12. I feel like I have a ‘kindred spirit’ connection with the place, even though I haven’t been back in years. Whenever I overhear a conversation in Japanese it makes me feel all natsukashii.


    • I’m jealous that you’ve been learning Japanese from such an early age. I started learning when I was 39 and since my classes stopped, I’ve forgotten such a lot. Whenever we are there, I feel at home. I’m not blinkered, there’s a lot that’s wrong there (as anywhere), but there are so many more things that feel right to me. I’ve neglected this blog lately – book reviews are faster! It takes a couple of hours to marshall my thoughts for a post on here.


      • Which other blog do you have? It sent me straight to this… (Your answer could help me connect some dots!)

      • I also have the What I Think About When I Think About Reading blog. Japanophile is my Gravatar profile blog I think, so if you click on Totoro it sends you there.

      • Aha! My ridiculously inadequate sleuthing skills gingerly led me to that conclusion. At any rate, both your blogs are tops.

      • Sorted out my Other blogs page for this site now – I hadn’t realised I’d not done it yet!

  6. Posted by Gwen on 06/08/2016 at 6:53 pm

    I’ve been waiting for you to post here again! I’ve been meaning to go back through all your old posts. And I just found your Japanese study blog, which I am going to use to kickstart my Japanese study, which I have been sooo lax with for a while.


    • I’m running out of things to write! I need to go back to some places to do them justice before I post about them. There will be more to write about after our next trip. And, I haven’t updated my Japanese study blog in a long time!


      • Posted by Gwen on 06/08/2016 at 6:58 pm

        I’ve actually been having that problem on my book blog. I used to do other kinds of blogging and I’m considering taking that up again, because I miss having things to write about, but I just don’t always feel like writing about every book I read.

      • I don’t worry so much about Japanophile because it has a healthy number of followers and steady traffic, but my book review blog is still fairly new, so I’m a bit more conscientious about updating it. I’m sure there will come a point when I slow down and don’t review everything.

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