Seeing sumo in Osaka, Japan, with kids

The timing for our Japan trip, being in Osaka in March, was more to do with cherry blossom season than sumo, but as soon as I realised that the annual Osaka sumo tournament coincided with our stay I made sure we would be there. What kid wouldn't want to see sumo wrestlers in action? I knew for sure … [Read more...]

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...]

The life-changing magic of taking my son to Japan

Since 2010 I've been working on a really important project: I've been educating (or really, brainwashing) my son, since his birth in 2010, to fall in love with Japan. Japan is a country that's really important to me, after living and working there for a couple of years in my twenties, and … [Read more...]

How to prepare your kids for a trip to Japan

If you're planning a Japan family holiday, you probably want to prepare your kids for Japan ahead of time. It's an utterly wonderful country to visit but probably pretty different in quite a few ways from home. Learning about Japan and Japanese culture before you get there will make the trip both … [Read more...]

A week in Kansai: Fanning the flames of my love for Japan

I'm a little bit obsessed with the Kansai region of Japan. #sorrynotsorry Last year I got to spend a week in Kansai on a blogger trip and although it was probably the busiest week of my entire life, every second of it was an absolute joy. Thirteen years after I left Osaka (I lived in Osaka and … [Read more...]

5 unique reasons to visit Kobe, Japan

Kobe city in Hyogo prefecture has long been one of my favourite Japanese cities. When I lived in nearby Osaka, it was a place I regularly took overseas visitors for a Kobe sightseeing day trip, because it was such a good contrast to Osaka and Nara. Back then, it was only six years after the 1995 … [Read more...]

The secret of Sakai City: off the beaten path in Kansai, Japan

One day soon it'll be a normal thing to suggest visiting Sakai City when you're passing through Osaka, but I'm getting in early to tell you: go to Sakai! Back when I lived in Osaka, I knew Sakai was south of the city and that's about all; I occasionally met people who worked there. Beyond that, I … [Read more...]

7 things I desperately love about Osaka: Osaka attractions for you too

My love affair with Osaka, Japan's "other" city, stretches back fifteen years already. As a 25-year-old I headed to Japan to teach English with my then boyfriend. The company which hired us only offered two destination choices to teachers hired in couples: Tokyo or Osaka. Always one to make the less … [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...]

15 years of Universal Studios Japan (and 15 years since I moved to Osaka)

Fifteen years ago this year, I moved to Japan. Also fifteen years ago this year, just a couple of months before my arrival in Osaka, Universal Studios Japan opened. What a brilliant coincidence, I think, that USJ would bring me back to Japan in this special year! Magic at Universal Studios … [Read more...]