An English Team Playing A Friendly In Japan! It’s Been A While…


Back in the first half of the 2000’s, top English and European teams would seemingly come quite often to Japan to play some pre-season friendlies but then they dried up as the likes of America, China or even Australia took preference. Of course the UEFA Champions League winners have come to Japan when it has hosted the FIFA World Club Championship in December but the sight of such teams has been rather limited. Arsenal was something of an exception in 2013 though when they played Urawa Reds and Nagoya Grampus.

This year though Manchester City play against Yokohama Marinos (Saturday 27th July) and last Friday saw Continue reading

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Interesting Japanese Playground Structures #20

Many of the parks and children’s playgrounds in Japan, particularly in Tokyo, are quite poor compared to other countries in terms of space, surroundings and a lack of grass. However, a handful of them do tend to possess extremely creative structures and they will be explored in this series.

Nickname: Lonely Panda Park

Location: Kin Kin Park, 3-13-11 Kanda Nishikicho, Chiyoda-ku

Nearest Station(s): Continue reading

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An Epic Journey To See The Temple With Hundreds Of Unique Faced Statues And TV Cameras Were There To Film Me Too!

Statues are common features of temples and shrines in Japan but this one, deep in Japanese countryside, has close to 500 where no two are the same.

The day began by taking the 8:00 am Ban’etsu East Line south-east of Koriyama to Ononiimachi Station. I had anticipated a 100 minute walk (one way!) to the temple I wanted to see. Many people will think that’s madness but I accepted it as the journey is all part of it for me. Sometimes you’ve gotta make the effort and being a resident of this country does mean that I am not constrained by time limits too much so in this case could devote a big part of my day to this place. However, I was still recovering from a calf problem so was keen to find an alternative way of getting there and inspiration hit me just moments after leaving the station.

In the car park by the station was a Continue reading

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Japan’s Biggest Jizō Statue & Mummy Troubles!

This mini-trip taking in some sights of Japan’s northern region began by heading out eastwards from Tokyo to Mito Station in Ibaraki Prefecture. The 15 minute window before my next train meant I had sufficient time to pop out of the station just to get a quick shot of this natto statue (below) which was presumably built to honour the home of fermented soy beans!


From Mito I then headed up to Hitachi-Daigo Station on the JR Suigun Line for my first sight of the day which was a short ten minutes away on foot over the other side of the river. With only half an hour till the next train I knew I had to be quick to find it, get some pictures and return to the station. Train delays meant I only had Continue reading

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A Posthumous Marriage Temple, A Precariously-Balanced Building & Foot Spas In Japan’s Premier Cherry Region

Yamagata Prefecture is somewhere I only really passed though on my travels in Japan’s northern region last Summer so I was determined to go back at some point and actually see something more than the inside of train stations! That opportunity probably came earlier than I ever thought it would during a recent short break.

After a couple of days in Fukushima Prefecture I moved on further north to Yamagata. I tried to book a hotel there a few days before embarking on this trip but they were out of my price range so I decided to stay in Yonezawa which is about 30 minutes south of Yamagata city. The view from my room was lovely with great views of the river and a waterfall amidst mountains and a lot of greenery.

A free Japanese-style breakfast was included too.


Kaminoyama-Onsen Station lies between Yonezawa and Yamagata and that was my first port of call the following morning. I was not there to take an onsen (hot spring bath) though. 30 minutes on foot south of the station is Continue reading

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Yamadera: The Mountain Temple That’s Reminiscent Of One From A Batman Movie

“It’s like the temple where Bruce Wayne trains to become Batman”

That is how Chris Broad of the popular ‘Abroad In Japan‘ YouTube channel described this place in Yamagata Prefecture. He was referring to scenes in Continue reading

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Watching J-League Football On A Very Rainy Night Up In Yamagata


The rainy season in Japan is well underway and for many people it can be a frustrating time with constant wet conditions for weeks on end. Certainly not ideal for watching or playing football, especially when many grounds in this country are municipal stadiums meaning that they often have no covered seating (assuming there are even seats!) and can also be far from the pitch with a running track in between too.

The ND Soft Stadium Yamagata, built in 1991, is home to current J2 leaders Montedio Yamagata. It holds 20,315 people, has a running track and pretty much non-existent Continue reading

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