The train ride to Narnia.

Alright, so it was Nara, not Narnia, but our new buddy, Mike, with whom we exchanged silliness over beers one night, kept calling it Narnia. And maybe it's an appropriate name for the town that houses the oldest surviving wooden structures in the world, a giant Buddha statue who's hand alone dwarfs a human, and... Continue Reading →


It didn't take me long to fall in love with this place. Despite being dropped off on the side of a highway and the resulting 6km walk in 100-degree heat to our hotel, Kyoto quickly charmed me with its beautiful mix of the traditional and the modern, the old and the new, and its graceful... Continue Reading →

Tales from swallow mountain.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect in the mountains of Japan. Until about a year ago, when Amanda came here for the first time, I didn't even know that the Japanese Alps existed. Sure, everyone's heard of Mt. Fuji, and perhaps skiing and the Winter Olympics in Nagano, but I had no idea about... Continue Reading →

What is a cosmic ray, anyway?

Our second day in the mountains was going well. The rain was holding off, we were slowly becoming more efficient, and despite the atrocious flies that buzzed continuously around our heads and found the need to explore our ears, noses, and eyelids, and the occasional frustration and delay of a tree core stuck in a... Continue Reading →

“I shoulda brought my crampons.”

After over a week of getting acquainted with Japan and Matsumoto, figuring out a confusing and somewhat frustrating permit process, and experimenting with potential food options for backcountry camping in Japan (a task that turned out to be a lot harder than you would think), we finally embarked to the mountains in an attempt to... Continue Reading →

Rainy days.

It's raining, again. A steady, soaking shower that begins to puddle in parking lots. But it's still hot, too hot to wear a rain coat, and the humidity causes sweat to pour down my body as my clothes are also drenched from the outside, under an umbrella that does little against the wind and blowing... Continue Reading →


The air is hot, as always, but the clouds that block the beating rays of the sun and the breeze that blow make it seem slightly cooler than the previous days. I walk alone, towards a yet-unexplored section of town. Down narrow streets past well-kept homes and gardens. A black cat crosses the road in... Continue Reading →

“Middle name John” and adventures in eating.

We arrived in Matsumoto on Friday afternoon, and our meeting with Amanda's contact in Japan to figure out what our plans were going to be for field work wasn't until Monday, leaving us with an entire weekend to explore. Saturday was spent roaming around downtown Matsumoto, first visiting the number-one tourist destination in the city---the... Continue Reading →

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