Going back to Japan – what it’s like to return to your ex-pat home

It was so exciting earlier this year to be returning to my ex-pat home, Osaka, to show my son where I used to live. I’ve talked to him about various aspects of my life in Osaka and Nara over the years - I lived and worked there for two years between 2001 and 2003 - but there’s nothing like being … [Read more...]

Reasons to Love Japan – Episode 36 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast

I've been writing about my love for Japan ever since I began this blog 11 and a half years ago, but the fact is, I had lost sight of just HOW MUCH I love it! Thirteen years after I left Osaka, I finally got to return, and I was reminded of all the reasons I love Japan, and everything was even better … [Read more...]

What I miss most about Japan

I moved house this week, which caused me to look through a whole lot of boxes of journals, souvenirs and photo albums. (I'm a little bit of a hoarder.) Being homesick for Japan A huge proportion of these things were from the two years I spent living in Japan. Japanese things are just so … [Read more...]

Locals I’ve met: Real life examples of why I love meeting the locals when I travel

Meeting the locals when I travel is one of the aspects of being out there that I love the most. I think it's partly because I'm insanely curious about people in general (it's a genetic trait!) and partly because over the years, meeting local people on my travels has led me on all kinds of … [Read more...]

Four different homes abroad and what I’ve learnt from them

I'm not a massive fan of moving house. (I mean, really, who is? It's a lot of work!) However, I have moved plenty of times in my life and in particular, I have had four different homes abroad - two different flats in Japan, one in Slovakia and one in Germany. When I read a recent Kiki and Tea post … [Read more...]

Do you really like green tea? Lessons from Japan and meeting the locals

Everyone who knows me well in person knows that I like green tea. Some of my best friends (and yes, this is probably a criteria you need to satisfy to become one of my best friends) buy green tea especially so that they can offer it to me when I visit them. (Love you guys.) But the other day someone … [Read more...]

Saying goodbye to a country is hard – I know, I’ve done it three times

I am NOT a good goodbye person. I'm way overly sentimental, I'm all too acutely aware that once you say goodbye to a place you've lived in that even visiting will never be the same again, and I miss both people and things long and badly. I blogged just recently about the sadness of leaving … [Read more...]

The sadness of leaving new homes abroad – the perils of expat life

It was a week or two before I would leave Japan, and I was teaching a one-to-one lesson with Ami, a little girl who'd been coming to individual English lessons at our school for a year or so; she was three by now. At two she had absolutely hated coming to our lessons and we had spent many lessons … [Read more...]

The shock of no culture shock on arriving in Germany

When I first moved overseas to Japan, I definitely experienced a degree of culture shock, as anyone who's been to Japan can understand - they do lots of things differently there. I soon adjusted and loved living this different life, and when I moved on to Slovakia I found another complete set of … [Read more...]

Japanese swimming pool etiquette and what I learnt from having a rest in an Osaka aquatic park

There are so many unique parts of Japanese life that it's hard to remember them all. Recently an article called The expat art of giving up reminded me of a quirk I hadn't thought about in ages: the hourly rest time at the Japanese swimming pool. Swimming pool lanes, photo credit M … [Read more...]