Friday, 25 May 2018

Walking the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage (Part 1) - Plan, plan, plan!


Are you a planner? Or a no-planner?

Some people like to "wing it" when they travel. They book a ticket and turn up, deciding what to do once they arrive.

Me, I like to have things planned out. Especially when the trip involves a week of solo walking in Japan!

Friday, 18 May 2018

Gachapon: Capsules of Joy, ¥300 a pop (GUEST POST!)



This week - a guest post from Step Up Japanese student David Sharp! 

If you follow me (Fran) on twitter you might know David as the creator of the bot that spits insults - and occasional compliments - at me if I fail to upload a blog post every week. 

In an attempt to silence the twitter bot this week, I convinced David - who has just come back from a trip to Japan - to write a blog post for me instead. Over to you Dave!

I have a bit of a gachapon obsession. There are so many things I love about Japan, but my eyes light up when I see a gachapon machine. I’ve got a sixth sense specifically dedicated to locating gachapon machines and you can guarantee I’ll make a beeline for it, or forever regret not seeing what mysteries they might hold. There’s something very Japanese about gachapon: compact, transient, novel and convenient.

But let’s back up for a second – what is gachapon?

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Fun and games at the Brighton & Hove Japanese Club Open Day


If you have children while living abroad, or you move with your kids to a country where a different language is spoken, how do you expose them to your native language?

One option is to join a club of people in the same situation. (Or, if there isn't a club, to start one!)

The Brighton & Hove Japanese Club runs a Saturday school for children from Japanese-speaking and bilingual families. The club exists to promote cultural exchange between Japan and the UK.

Every year they have a well-attended Open Day to celebrate the school's successes, and welcome visitors in to see what the club has to offer. And there's a LOT on offer.

I went along this year with my students again. Here's what we got up to!

Friday, 13 April 2018

End-of-term Sushi Night! Easter 2018


When I started teaching Japanese, I thought it would primarily be an academic endeavour. 

I didn't think we'd go out for sushi, and do calligraphy workshops, and all kinds of other exciting things. 

It's good to get out of the classroom sometimes, spend time in a different environment (and of course eat Japanese food).

Friday, 30 March 2018

Calligraphers of Instagram (Part 4) - Uchiyama Kenichi


Welcome to Part 4 of Calligraphers of Instagram, and this week we're keeping things super simple with Uchiyama Kenichi.

The Japanese way of giving names is to put the family name (Uchiyama) first, and then the given name (Kenichi).

That's the Japanese way, so I'll keep it that way too.

Also, I have a friend with exactly the same name, so I'll call my friend Kenichi Uchiyama and the calligrapher Uchiyama Kenichi. It keeps things simple.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Say yes!


A couple of months ago I was invited to speak online at a new event all about languages. My first thought was, heck no! That sounds utterly terrifying.

My second thought was, what would Karli Dendy do?

Karli co-runs designosaur and YEAH laser here in Brighton. We've known each other since university, when we watched enormous amounts of bad TV, and went to every club in the city in one year.

Now that we are grown-ups (apparently), I proofread her copy, and she gives me great business advice.

Anyway, I knew what Karli would say. Say yes

"I know the new mantra is to learn to say no to things, but I'm very much still in the say YES to everything phase, check your inbox every five minutes and reply to every strange direct message you get."

Friday, 16 March 2018

Calligraphers of Instagram (Part 3) - Isawo Murayama


Hello and welcome to the third instalment of "Calligraphers of Instagram", where I introduce amazing artists making Japanese calligraphy - and sharing it online.

Isawo Murayama is a busy mum-of-four who makes time to create new pieces daily.

Her work feels a bit like a diary - together with her descriptive Instagram captions, her calligraphy offers up a little slice of her day-to-day life.