Izu’s Shirahama Beach

MJG Guides, Japan 2 Comments

Going to Izu and digging holes on the beach is now a firm tradition with me. It started two years ago, when a motley group of frisbee friends and I packed up our rental cars and went to dig and surf and camp on the beach. The second year was a smaller group but we did basically the same things. …

Healing Villa Spa Resort

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Last week one of my students told me about a great onsen/spa/resort he frequently visits, called Healing Villa, located somewhere in Chiba, with huge outdoor pools, a great big sauna, and an overall healing and chilled-out vibe. I’m all in favor of those things, had a weekend coming with no plans, so decided to head off to check it out. …

Asahi Beer (Factory, Ibaraki)

MJG Guides, Japan 8 Comments

Asahi Beer is the juice that Japan runs on- it fuels the salarymen and the office ladies alike, keeping them lean, mean, and ready to work 18 hour shifts until karoushi (death by over-work) drives them into the ground. Asahi is the beer in a silver can- its most distinguishing feature by far. Kirin and Sapporo in their gold and …

Scott and Makiko’s Wedding, Niigata

MJG Guides, Japan 12 Comments

2 weeks ago my good friend Scott and his long-time girlfriend Makiko had a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony, in a hotel up in Niigata. I say ‘had a ceremony’ rather than ‘got married’ because of course- as things are done here in Japan- you get married first in secret at a local ward office, just by signing some papers. Then, …

Arakawa Cyclo-Campers

MJG Guides, Japan 5 Comments

The Arakawa river stretches up out of Tokyo Bay and into the Saitama mountains, passing straight through the bulk of the city, picking up stray cyclists looking for a place to go as it meanders above and below ground. Some of the cyclists that accrete to its bike-pathed banks come prepped with tents and gear to camp out, BBQ, and …

Meiji Memorial Gallery, Aoyama Itchome

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The Meiji Gallery in Aoyama Itchome holds 80 works of art depicting scenes from the life of Emperor Meiji (1852-1912), half painted in the Japanese style and half in a Western style, each about 3 meters square and really quite stunning. I discovered this Gallery unconventionally. In fact, I’d thought a long time ago that the museum/impressive building scene in …

Fukutoshin Shibuya Station

MJG Guides, Japan 6 Comments

The new subway station on the F-line in Shibuya is remarkably large, spacious, and modern. It reminds me of the subway system in Washington D.C. for all its brushed concrete blocks and cavernous oval underground spaces. Even now a week after it opened there are still lots of people with cameras snapping away at its sights- of course, including me. …

Stopped by the Police

MJG Guides, Japan 9 Comments

Last night I was stopped and questioned by the police. I was riding home on a friend’s tiny BMX-like bike at around 2am, just coming to the hill on Meiji Dori before my house, when I heard something from behind me. I turned around and saw a policeman running up behnd me. I did a double-take, for a second dis-believing …

Zoshigaya Cemetary

MJG Guides, Japan 3 Comments

The other day I took a stroll over to Zoshigaya Cemetary, one stop down the Arakawa street-car line from where I live. I meant to only shoot photos, but soon realized that photos couldn’t do the scale of the place any justice, so I decided to take some footage instead.

Tama River Ride

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After the success of our Arakawa River Ride, both Jason and I were chomping at the bit to get out and cycle-camp some more. Jason was keen to hit up the Arakawa again, whereas I wanted to try something new: the Tama river.

Arakawa River Ride

MJG Guides, Japan 1 Comment

Last weekend Jason and I took a cycle-camping trip north up the Arakawa river (wild river) into Saitama. We set out on April 27th and came back on my birthday, the 28th, covering 170km in total, free-camping overnight in the grass by a day-time BBQ area. It was an incredibly liberating feeling to get out of the city under our …

Hole-digging, Shimoda Beach

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I’ve always loved to dig holes. My earliest holing memory is in the back-yard with Joe as young kids, and us keen to dig a hole down to Australia, with what must’ve been toy plastic shovels. Some adult was egging us on, perhaps my Dad, and though even at the time I knew it was impossible, I still felt a …