This is the view from my apartment’s balcony. Even though the name of my prefecture, Yamanashi, can mean “mountain-less” in Japanese, I’m actually surrounded 360 degrees by mountains. On a clear day, I can see Fuji-san from my window. It’s my absolute favorite thing about Hokuto, my hometown here in Japanland.
In addition to mountains, Yamanashi is chock-full of rice paddies. None of the houses here have what we would consider a yard, exactly. Most do have some sort of extra land, but it’s all used for rice farming and vegetable gardens. This is my friend Gus standing in a rice paddy a few blocks from my house.
Karaoke seems to be the national pastime of Japan. It’s what people do on Friday and Saturday nights, or during after-hours parties with co-workers. Instead of singing in a bar in front of strangers, Japan has special karaoke parlors where you and your friends can belt your heart out in your own private room. You pay per person by the hour, and for a little bit extra, it becomes all-you-can-drink.
Sushi has become my meal of choice since coming to Japan because it’s inexpensive, delicious and widely available. I probably eat it about five days a week, sometimes more. I like to go to the restaurants where plates of sushi come around to you on a conveyor belt. This is called kaiten sushi. Kaiten sushi places also have little hot water taps and powdered green tea at every table, so you can prepare your own beverage (like Toguri-san is doing in this photo).
In this album, you’ll find some more photos of Yamanashi, including some of the other gaijin I hang out with, the incredibly dense fog that covers the top of mountain I live on, and Japan’s amazing wild flowers.