The Deer of Nara A Cute and Calm Aggression

On October 20, 2016, in Uncategorized, by 10. Lolo-han

This summer I went on an adventure to the lovely town of Nara with a friend. Nara is most famous for the deer that roam around in the town and interact with the people there. while there are many beautiful attractions the deer seem to be the most interesting too many of the tourist. Because of this this post is mainly on those deer.


The deer Nara are considered a National Treasure along with Todai-Ji’s giant bronze Buddha statue which is considered the largest in the world. Unknown to many people is there prior to World War II Nara’s deer were classified as sacred and up until 1637 the murder of one of these deer with a capital offense punishable by Death, this date is the last known offense of said law.




The highest concentration of deer happens to be around Nara Park and Todai-ji which is locatedin the park. Thanks to said deer the city of Nara has a calm and relaxing  atmosphere surrounding it as they seem to be completely unaffected by the amount of people around them. This along with the amount of restaurants and food stands along the road make Nara park an ideal lunch destination. We opted for lunch at a small restaurant and enjoyed traditional soba while watching the deer roam freely out of the windows. If you   prefer something quick or wants to eat on the go there are many affordable & delicious Festival style food stands surrounding the road leading up to Todai temple. But beware As the deer will follow anyone carrying anything resembling food.


The deer are very friendly and kind to the people all over town. They are very inteligent and can act just like another member of town, waiting for crosswalks and only crossing the street when the sign is lit green. While it is very peaceful and relaxing to watch, sit, and even just rest with the deer there is a level of danger that most ignore and this is apparent when you try to feed them. though out the town many places sell crackers that are made for the deer. these crackers are made exclusively by the WNOW for them. when these amazing creatures see or smell these crackers they go crazy, i mean crazy, the deer love these crackers and will go after anyone that has them restlessly. The deer begin to fight one many people are bitten pushed and hit by the deer trying to get a snack ahead of one another. Aside from those incidents Nara and it’s deer are truely a site and experince worth the trip all on its own.

HELLO in eight different languages

Re-learning to Communicate

On October 16, 2016, in English, Life in Japan, by 03. Hannah

Living in a country where you don’t really know the language well can be hard. It’s something many people can probably relate to. In my case I know enough Japanese to get by but little more than that. I can communicate somewhat effectively but not at all efficiently which leaves me giving explain actions like ‘I’m going to put some things in some bags’ instead of ‘I’m packing’. The majority of what I say becomes over-simplified or over-complicated.

I’m not a complete beginner but I am also far from proficient. In fact, I would say I’m average at best. It’s not being hard on myself, it’s merely the truth. I can say more than ‘hello, my name is…’ and less than being able to express my opinion on Donald Trump as the potential future president of America. As such, I’m stuck in a weird state of constantly only understanding 50% of what’s going on (though some would argue I was already like that). I feel like a child again. I can’t express myself properly and people look at me strangely while I try to explain myself with my limited vocabulary of random words and some strange hand motions. I feel the same frustrations as a child trying to express themselves except, unlike a child, when all other forms of communication fail I cannot resort to breaking down into a sobbing mess. Instead I must pretend I know how to be an adult, be patient, and try again.

All cynicism aside, despite the daily confusion I know I am learning more every day and I just have to do my best. I am here to immerse myself and to study the language as best I can. I know that people are understanding and most the time these issues doesn’t bother me too much. I love living here despite the language barrier and I am constantly learning and growing. Learning a new language is challenging but also extremely rewarding. For me at least, it’s the challenge itself that makes it fun and I welcome it. I know that in the end, being here is definitely worth any struggles I may face.


Previously, from July 7th to September 11th, there was a massive showing of artwork and other exhibits by Studio Ghibli at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills. My girlfriend and I were lucky enough to catch the showing before it ended, and I’d like to share my experience. I should probably note that I haven’t yet been to the Ghibli Museum itself yet, and this was the first time I saw any sort of Ghibli exhibit. Also, most of the exhibition banned photography unfortunately, but I will do my best to summarize.



I didn’t grow up with Studio Ghibli like my girlfriend did. Whereas she’s seen nearly all of the their films, and has even met with the actress who portrayed a main character in Laputa (her favorite), I saw my very first Ghibli movie only a few years ago. After moving to Tokyo, we set upon a Ghibli marathon to watch all of the most classic Ghibli movies. I have become quite the fan, and when this exhibit opened, I really wanted to see it all for myself.

img_5991-1-13Heading to the Mori Art Museum, the streets were filled with Doraemon. When we finally arrived at Mori, we were met with a long line of people all ages waiting patiently in crammed lines. Pokemon Go was still very recent, and everyone from children to their grandparents were swiping their phone screens and discussing what they might see within the exhibits. We paid about ¥2,300 (a bit over $22.00), got our tickets, and headed up to the display area on the 52nd floor.

img_6009-10-18After being ushered into the correct entrance of the showing, we entered a small bar area with Tottoro himself managing the register, and then into a viewing area featuring many Ghibli movie posters. The walls were completely covered with international editions, recreations, and alternate versions. Further in, the high walls revealed concept sketches, fliers, mini-posters, and other promotional materials related to the films. My degree is in graphic design, and I’ve always been a great fan of movie posters, so this was quite the time for me.

Next, we spotted something a bit unexpected–a perfect to-scale recreation of the director’s office. Down to the books on the shelf, it was an exact replica of the real office at Studio Ghibli, complete with a reference photo as proof. We weren’t allowed to go inside (or take photos) but it was a very interesting sight indeed. Beyond that exhibit, we entered a display room that, from floor to ceiling, displayed nearly every single piece of merchandise ever made featuring Ghibli characters. We weren’t allowed to take photos or touch anything, but it was a sight not unlike anime shops in Akihabara near the Electric Town exit, but it was all Studio Ghibli fare.

Finally, the signs warning us to not take photographs disappeared, and we were ushered into a darkened room. Breaching the exit, our eyes adjusted to something fantastic–the iconic Cat-But from My Neighbor Totoro, complete with lights, and filled to the brim with happy fans. After waiting our turn in line, we were given approximately 2 minutes to set-up and take our own photographs, as well as explore the inside of the big cat himself. The attention to detail in this exhibit is absolutely stunning, and it was the highlight of our trip. In my attempt to hurry to get my own photograph of myself inside the cat-bus, I was flanked by an granny and her family before I was able to get my photo. She looks like she’s enjoying herself, at least.

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img_6300-29-3After that exhibit, we entered the Laputa: Castle in the Sky area, which was the main area of the exhibit. The Laputa exhibit was extra amazing, most likely because of the film’s 30th anniversary, and was what excited both of us the most about coming to the exhibition. This area featured a glowing scale model of the sky ship from Laputa, as well as the terrain below. Characters were hung from the walls in all directions, and in the center, the giant sky ship glowed and elegantly raised and lowered itself as if paddling it’s way through the clouds. It was a quiet, dimly lit room with a very high ceiling with an amazing view of the city below. The combination of this exhibit and the room it was presented in made you feel as though you may be in Laputa yourself, overlooking all of Tokyo.

img_6343-35-6 img_6341-34-5 img_6030-18-22 img_6022-15-21 img_6018-13-20Sadly, from there we exited the exhibit. The Ghibli gift shop was on a lower floor, and once we made our way down, we found it to be even more crowded than the exhibition itself. For sale was a massive variety of figurines, notebooks, bags, clothes, movies, books…anything Ghibli you could ever want. It was all very expensive, but that didn’t stop many fans from filling their large shopping bags and fighting back through the crowd to exit.

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img_6424-46-12After leafing through some very expensive Blu-Ray releases of the films and looking at all the adorable plush toys, we decided to save our money. Before we left however, we both decided to pay the ¥500 fee to see the Mori rooftop. You walk through what looks like the set of a horror movie to the uppermost deck, which featured walking platforms, speakers, seats, and tons of young couples. We were on the roof of a 52 or 53 floor building, so the view was worth the money alone. We took lots of pictures, danced to their playlist of early 90s rock, and dodged a few rude tourists running around on the platform before returning home.

img_6044-20-1Overall, our experience was very positive. It was a great place to take a date, and the other visitors appeared to have a great time as well. As an English speaker, it really helped to have an interpreter, but I can’t exactly fault the exhibition for being almost entirely Japanese. The only complaint I had was the ban on all photography for over half of the exhibit. I understand why it was put in place, but because of it being a limited engagement, it’s difficult to find photos of everything that I saw in the exhibit, and my memory isn’t so great. That said, if there is a similar exhibition in the future, you can count on my reservation.

img_6067-24-24All photos credit to Kris Leisman and Midori Oyama


During my summer holidays I spent a week in Kyoto with my friend. On the trip we discovered what is now one of my absolute favourite places, Arashiyama. The kanji in Arashiyama (嵐山) means storm mountain. The river Ōi runs through this beautiful place nestled in the mountains making for some gorgeous scenery. We had only intended to spend a couple of hours there to visit the famous bamboo forest, instead we chose to spend the whole day exploring the local sights. I only wish now we had more time.

imageAfter arriving at the station we walked through a small park and across the bridge towards the bamboo forest. On the way we spotted a small shack and a lot of traditional boats. They were offering inexpensive guided cruises up the river, so of course, we couldn’t say no! A man took the two of us on a private tour up the river in a long wooden boat. We sat on the tatami mat under a small roof as the man steered the boat with a long bamboo pole and told us about the area and its history. The view was beautiful and the experience was amazing. It was more than worth the money we spent.

imageAfter this we walked through a park towards the forest. The man on the boat recommended we go this way rather than taking the roads. It took a little longer but it was a lot nicer. There was a single path winding through the tall bamboo. There were a lot of tourists which was to be expected. It would have been nice if it were a little more peaceful however this did not tarnish it’s beauty. It was an atmospheric little journey in our adventures.

imageThe forest path led us right to the entrance of Tenryuu-ji (meaning sky dragon temple). We spent well over an hour wandering through the gardens and the rooms of the temple and on the way out we passed through the Sky Dragon Hall. Inside the hall were beautiful decorations and artefacts and on the roof was a giant painting of the sky dragon who is said to watch over the temple grounds.

imageOn our way back we stopped by the river to cool off. It was an incredibly hot day so we decided to take a break from our walking and take in the views. The water was only ankle deep so we waded through the shallows. This turned out to be not such a good idea as we were ushered out by the police along with the other tourists. I don’t regret it at all though.

imageOur final stop of the day was to the popular Monkey Park. To get to the park we had to hike up the side of the mountain, which, considering the hot and humid weather, was not fun. Beautiful but not fun. When we reached the top we were greeted by the most stunning view of Kyoto and a troop of sweet (and excitable) Japanese Macaques. Seeing the gorgeous mountain habitat of the monkeys and the view from it was certainly worth the long hike to get there. We stayed for a little while to interact with the monkeys and enjoy the scenery before heading back for the night.

Whilst I got to see most of the main attractions in Arashiyama I would have happily spent days there wandering the little streets and enjoying the views. It is an absolutely stunning area and one of my favourite places in Japan if not the world. I urge you to go if you ever get the opportunity and I hope you will love it as much as I do!






Ho provato a scrivere un post in giapponese, per la versione italiana scorrete in fondo!

Grazie a tutte le fantastiche persone che ho incontrato! Non vi dimenticherò mai.


No English version, but thanks to all the amazing people I met! I’ll never forget any of you!









Alla me stessa di due anni fa.

Che tipo di futuro mi aspetta?
Scommetto che ti stai facendo questa domanda.
La tua vita magari non sarà niente di speciale, ma non hai niente di cui lamentarti: hai una famiglia che ti sta vicino e ti supporta sempre, un fidanzato che ti ama, degli amici che tengono a te.
Il lavoro non è il sogno della tua vita, ma c’è chi il lavoro non ce l’ha nemmeno ed è meglio non lamentarsi troppo: per lo meno sei in regola, no?

Eppure c’è qualcosa che ti manca. E per capire quel “qualcosa”, devi ritornare con la mente alla te stessa del liceo, la te stessa silenziosa e con pochi amici.
E ripensare al giorno in cui sei arrivata per la prima volta in Giappone, con la scusa di andare a trovare la zia che vive a Tochigi.
“Non è un Paese, è una poesia.” Te lo ricordi ancora questo sentimento?
È stata questa la tua prima impressione del Giappone: un Paese che non aveva eguali per te e che ti ha sempre affascinata. Ed è così che hai preso la decisione di andarci per un lungo periodo, non appena finite le superiori.

Solo che non è andata così, non è vero?
La tua vita ha preso un’altra direzione e ti sei detta che la famiglia e l’amore sono più importanti.
Eppure quell’idea è sempre lì, non importa cosa tu faccia: vuoi saperne di più. Vuoi imparare di più.
Vuoi andare a studiare laggiù.

È doloroso, vero? Anzi, è più che doloroso, fa paura. E quella paura la capisco bene.
Ma nonostante questo ti dico: vai! Ancora non lo sai, ma Tokyo ti sta aspettando, così come tante persone straordinarie e nuove esperienze.
E sì, ci saranno momenti in cui andrà tutto male e non vedrai l’ora di tornare a casa, ma se terrai duro fino all’ultimo, ti ritroverai a guardare indietro e ti sembrerà che il tempo sia passato troppo velocemente.
Prima che tu possa rendertene conto, sarà tutto finito.

Perciò non rinunciare al tuo sogno e prosegui dritta per la tua strada!

Il tuo futuro ti sta aspettando.