Tag Archives: Life Abroad

My Head’s in the Clouds

I should probably be writing about life in Korea at this point, having lived here for four months at this point. And I will, sooner rather than later. Today, though, my head is firmly in the clouds.

Or at least the memories I made above them. Before I left Japan, there were a few places that I was bound and determined to see. Unkai Terrace in Tomamu in Hokkaido was at the very top of that list.  In the winter months, Tomamu is a well-known and popular ski resort, but in the summer, the attraction is all about the clouds. Unkai (雲海) is a nifty Japanese word that translates to “sea of clouds, and it’s a phenomenon best seen from mountaintops, where you’re above the cloud cover. The most famous example of unkai in Japan is most certainly the sunrise view from Mt. Fuji…which I had already sought out and then spectacularly failed at seeing a few years prior.


Unkai Terrace, for all its glory, is not a destination for those who like to sleep in. During the summer months, when the terrace is open to the public (and not, you know, covered with several meters of fine Hokkaido powder), the gondola’s first ride departs at four or five in the morning, with the final ride to the top leaving at seven or eight, depending on the month. There’s a reason for that ungodly hour; once the sun rises, that bright summer light burns off the damp, chilly cloud cover. It’s not exactly the best activity if you’re planning on hitting the snooze alarm a few times, but for the early birds, Unkai Terrace is wonderful, and it remains as one of my favorite spots in Hokkaido. Continue reading My Head’s in the Clouds

How to Earn a Black Belt…In Front of the Conveyor Belt

A version of this post also appears on Matador Network.

When it comes to the cuisine of Japan, it’s difficult to think of a food more deeply ingrained in the culinary image than sushi. It’s almost instinctual to think of tiny handfuls of rice carefully molded and topped by slabs of freshly cut, glistening fish. The art of sushi – because it truly is an art as much as it is a type of food – is basically synonymous with Japan itself, and there’s a good reason for that: its clean flavors, wildly varying textures, and beautiful colors perfectly represents the pure values and exotic details of Japanese society and traditions. Continue reading How to Earn a Black Belt…In Front of the Conveyor Belt

It’s Not a Proper Birthday Without Conveyor Belt Sushi

Remember this blog post? The one in which I verbosely extolled the virtues of Aomori’s winter and romanticized how beautiful it is? Yeah, after this weekend, I am seriously rethinking that pro-winter standpoint. After a monster of a snowstorm stranded me out in one of the small towns that surround Aomori City on Sunday night, I had to shell out nearly ninety dollars in taxi fare to get back into the city for work this morning. Trains were canceled, bus services were limited…but such is the nature of the beast, I suppose. If this – a slightly thinner wallet and a minor headache – is the extent of the grief that winter this year causes me, I’ll consider myself a lucky woman. (As I am running on about three and a half hours of sleep, I’ll also consider myself a lucky woman if I don’t faceplant into my coffee today at work.) Continue reading It’s Not a Proper Birthday Without Conveyor Belt Sushi

How Do We Know Where Home Is?

This post also appears at http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/how-do-we-decide-where-home-is/.

“Home is where the heart is.” Well, yeah, no kidding, we’ve had that sentiment hammered into our heads from our childhoods. It’s stared at us from those kitschy needlepoint pillows at our grandmothers’ houses and been sung to us in many a country song chorus. And as grounding, stabilizing, and reassuring as home can be, it’s also a pretty fragile concept. Continue reading How Do We Know Where Home Is?