Have you ever traveled to Nakasendō road or any of the post town stations along the way?

There are beautiful, ancient, and picturesque trails in Nakasendo中山道 where you will feel nostalgic, especially in the Kisoji area (Gifu & Nagano). These trekking routes between the post towns are where you can enjoy scenic mountain hikes.

In this blog, I visited and was introduced to some of the Kisoji road post towns in Aug 2021. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

What is Nakasendo and Kisoji?


The route in red is Nakasendō and light blue is Tōkaidō. (The black color is Kōshūkaidō, by the way)

The Nakasendō (中山道, Central Mountain Route) was built during Edo period (1603 – 1867 ), and one of the two that connected Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to Kyoto in Japan. There were 69 post-town stations between Tokyo and Kyoto, crossing through Saitama, Gunma, Nagano, Gifu and Shiga prefectures, with a total distance of about 534 km (332 mi).

Many of the post towns were once gone or abandoned, but during the Showa period (1926–1989), a number of them were restored and preserved back to their former glory with the help of the local people. Today, they have become popular tourist spots.

Unlike the coastal Tōkaidō 東海道 (東 = east, 海 = sea, 道 = road), the Nakasendō traveled inland as it shows in Kanji (中 = middle, 山 = mountain, 道 = road)” It is said that Nakasendō was favored by female travelers back then as it didn’t require a river crossing.

Kisoji (木曽路, Kiso road) is a part of Nakasendō from Magome to Niekawa, and there are 11 post towns located in the mountainous area of Kiso.

Nakatugawa-juku 中津川宿

Nakatsugawa-juku (中津川宿, Nakatsugawa-juku) is the 45th of the 69 stations of the Nakasendō, located in Nakatsugawa …continue reading


PCR Test In Tokyo Travel 2

If you are planning to travel out of Japan, chances are you will need to make a PCR test (Polymerase Chain Reaction) before your trip. Indeed, a vast majority of countries (and airline companies) require a negative PCR test in order to make your trip.

This safety measure has been put in place in order to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

If you are planing to make a PCR test in Tokyo, check out our tips and our recommended provider below.

When to make your PCR test?

The requirements depend on your destination but most of the time, the PCR test needs to be done 72h before your flight. So if you plan to fly on Friday for example, you would need to do your test during the 3 days prior to your flight, from Tuesday.

What we would recommend is to actually make your test 2 days (48h) before your flight to make sure you meet the requirements. If we take our example again (flight on Friday), you would make your test on Wednesday, receive your results one day later (Thursday), and finally fly on Friday.

What type of PCR test should you make?

PCR Test In Tokyo Travel 4

Another thing to have in mind before to make a PCR test is what type of test you will choose. They are mainly 2 different types of PCR tests:

  • The nasopharyngeal swab where the sample will be taken from your nose. This test is a bit uncomfortable but it’s the most reliable.
  • The saliva test where the sample will be take from the saliva you would split from your mouth. This test is more comfortable but …continue reading

There is a kanji quiz called “Kanji Quiz for working adults” put out by Baila. The quizzes are not easy. Almost all kanji are certainly recognizable (認識できる ninshikidekiru), but how you read them is very difficult.

photo by author

Today’s kanji was 仄々. I certainly was one of many that could not read this kanji. It is read as honobonoto (ほのぼの), meaning “dimly lit” or “heartwarming”. We use hiragana when we write ほのぼの almost all the time. Partly because hiragana can add soft feeling, and partly because 仄々 is not commonly used in writing, although 仄 is one of the commonly used kanjis (常用漢字 joyokanji). If you can type Japanese on your keyboard, type “honoka.” You may get ほのか and 仄か. 仄 (hono) attaches to verbs or adjectives indicates “faintly noticeable” as in 仄暗い – faintly dark (honogurai). But when you type honobono, you most likely get ほのぼの or ホノボノ。

How about 滴々? You have seen 滴 (shizuku or teki, a drop) as in 水滴 (waterdrop, suiteki) 点滴(intravenous drip, tenteki.)You get the idea. So how do you think 滴々is read? Tekiteki? The answer is ぽたぽた (potapota)- onomatopoeia (擬音語 giongo) of water drops. 滴 sure is not read ぽた though. By typing ぽたぽた, you will get ポタポタ but not 滴々. You will need to learn this kind of kanji reading by reading literature (文学 bungaku).

Image by rony michaud from Pixabay

〜に集る is the next kanji. You may have seen 集める (atsumeru, to collect, to gather) or 写真集 (shashinshu, collection of photos). Then is it atsuru? Shuru? It is read as 〜ni takaru, meaning to sponge off〜.

I can spend hours …continue reading


One of the most common jobs for expats in Japan is teaching English to children or middle school age students. Therefore it is no surprise that it is also the first job for many who come to work in Japan from overseas. Due to the great demand for native speakers and the few actually available, it’s a job seekers market. Many teachers therefore find themselves dropped into the classroom, with little to no formal experience or education, and the shock can be scary. Not to worry! The good news is that there is a wealth of information available, from your support staff, fellow teachers and a hoard of people who have been in the exact same position as you.

Today we are going to look at a six tips that will help you stay afloat whilst you build experience, and keep students motivated and engaged. Becoming a good teacher requires active study and experience, and is the most important first step for any teacher of English in Japan. Keep these six tips in mind as you build such experience, and you will not only become a better teacher, but find the job far more enjoyable.

1. Motivation

Keeping students motivated is one of the trickiest parts of being an English teacher to children in Japan. Unlike adults, they are not necessarily in your classroom by choice, many of your students simply do not care about English. Try to employ some empathy, how much did you enjoy your French classes back in school?

The best way to keep students motivated is to expect, maintain and check realistic progress. If students feel that the lesson is moving too fast, many will simply give up. Japanese students especially are adverse to bringing attention to themselves, so do not expect anyone to tell you they are …continue reading


Source: Gaijin Pot
Japanese Dramas for Studying Japanese

One of the best ways to increase your listening skills and cultural knowledge about Japan is to immerse yourself in the very colorful world of Japanese television dramas.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are spending more time at home and have fewer chances to practice Japanese in real-world situations. It might even be hard to stay motivated during the pandemic. Recently, I’ve reignited my passion for learning Japanese by watching episodes of Nigeru wa hajidaga yakunitatsu (The Full-Time Wife Escapist) after my study sessions.

You’ll learn a lot of vocabulary that relates to relationships, particularly in friendship and in love.

Most dramas are only about an hour-long, so it’s an excellent opportunity for easy listening practice. Keep in mind you’ll either need to use a streaming service in Japan (like Paravi), check your local Japanese video store (like Tsutaya), or travel the high seas (if you know what I mean) to watch these dramas.

In this article, I’ll introduce five of my favorite J-dramas and tell you how you can use them to your advantage when studying Japanese.

1. Tokyo Tarareba Musume

Based on a manga by Akiko Higashimura, I can liken Tokyo Tarareba Musume (東(とう)京(きょう)タラレバ娘(むすめ), Tokyo ‘What If’ Girls in English) to Sex and the City. The story is about three women in their late 20s to early 30s navigating life and love in Tokyo.

What I like about this show is the simplicity of its premise. It’s easy to understand even without subtitles. As someone confident around the N3 level of the JLPT, I didn’t encounter any difficulty with the character’s choice of vocabulary or grammar.

You’ll learn a lot of vocabulary that relates to relationships, particularly in friendship and in love. The protagonists are likable, and you’ll cheer for them until the last episode—definitely an easy watch.

Source: Gaijin Pot
How Japanese people address each other lead

Do you have a nickname? Do you like it? Today some elementary schools in Japan are telling students not to call their classmates by nicknames. Some schools go far as to have all students call each other by last names with the gender-neutral honorifics.

This is to stop bullying between students, and while I’m all for schools wanting to create a safe environment, I can’t help feeling bad for kids. It’s a feeling shared by many Japanese adults nostalgic for their school days. Calling someone by their nickname is an expression of one’s affection for the person, and by all means, kids should have the right to do so.

There’s something very intimate about calling people by their first names or nicknames in Japan.

Perhaps this is more so in Japan, where the age difference puts so many restrictions on addressing others and the language we use. In fact, as an adult, I rarely get called by my first name or use the tameguchi (タメ口(ぐち)) form (informal speech in Japanese) unless I’m with my old friends from school.

I might still use tameguchi with people of the same age, but I find it hard to get another step closer and call them by their first names.

There’s something very intimate about calling people by their first names or nicknames in Japan because Japanese people use various honorific titles when addressing others. Still, it’s because of this system that addressing someone by their nickname or first name becomes a sign of a close relationship.

So let’s look at how Japanese people address others in different stages of life, from elementary school to when they are out of school.

Elementary school (ages 6-12)

Photo: iStock: Recep-bg
English class at an elementary school …continue reading


Sex is an essential topic that will — better sooner than later — come up in your romantic relationship, but when it involves international couples, language, and cultural barriers may make one (or both) of you uncomfortable at times. What language should you talk dirty in, and how do you express your fantasies without turning each other down? Is it culturally okay to ask your guy for a stop by at a love hotel — or how the heck do you comfort your guy if he’s worried about his size? These are situations that many foreign women dating Japanese men may be going through.

Let’s go through all of them one by one.

1. What language to speak in the bedroom

Thankfully, sex is a universal language which requires fewer words and more actions. But you’ll still need to talk about it at some point and you may be wondering what language is the best, especially if your Japanese isn’t perfect. If you’re worried about language issues, start by saying something vague like “I’ve never done this in Japanese before… (日本語では初めてだから… nihongo de hajimete dakara). This will make your guy realize where you’re heading to and will make him supportive — he may even offer to teach you how to talk dirty in Japanese.

Words like “stand up” (立って, tatte), “sit down” (座って, suwatte), “on top” (上で, ue de), “from the back” (バックで, bakku de)”, or “hand job” (手コキ, tekoki) are common and useful as a start. Other terms to remember include: “it feels good” (気持ちいい, kimochi ii), and if you want him to stop, say “ちょっとやめて” (chotto yamete, “stop for a minute”). If you don’t feel comfortable using Japanese, …continue reading


Source: Gaijin Pot

Unfortunately, summer is over. That means it’s time for students and English teachers to return to the classroom. Heck, teachers working for eikawa (conversation school) may have never even left. Autumn is also considered the next hiring season for schools in Japan, so many teachers meet entirely new classrooms.

Around this time, deciding whether to use Japanese in the classroom is always a tricky decision. Perhaps more so with the stress of the coronavirus pandemic still looming over our shoulders. Teachers want to immerse their students in English, but Japanese comes in handy for new or unruly students.

There are also occasions when teachers might be expected to use Japanese in the classroom to help communicate more effectively or when the learners are too young to be effectively engaged in English.

For these situations, here are some practical Japanese terms and expressions you can use in the classroom.

Taking attendance

Photo: iStock: Xavierarnau
Japanese students in the classroom.

One situation where speaking Japanese is useful is during roll call. It can be an essential part of the job at some schools to record attendance and even make reports about it.

Englisj Japanese Romaji
I’ll be taking attendance first. まず出席(しゅっせき)をとります mazu shusseki wo torimasu
Present 出席


Absent 欠席


Is everybody here? みんないますか

minna imasuka?

Who’s absent today? 今日(きょ)は誰(だれ)がお休(や)みですか? Kyo wa dare ga wo yasumidesu ka?
Every student is in attendance today. 学生全員がくせいぜんいんが出席しゅっせきしました gakusei zenin ga shusseki wo torimashita
She is absent from school. 彼女(かのじょ)は学校(がっこう)を欠席(けっせき)しました kanojou ha gakkou wo kesseki shimashita
That student is absent due to an illness. 生徒(せいと)は病気(びょうき)のため欠席(けっせき)しました seito ha byouki notameni kesseki shimashita

Classroom order and discipline

Photo: iStock: D76MasahiroIKEDA
Kao wo age nasai.: “Show me your face.”

In Japanese, there are many ways to tell someone to be quiet. Not surprisingly, …continue reading