Cherry Picker

The first exam was what could technically be classed as ‘a bit of a disaster’, in that I was unable to do anything but guess at the answers. Still, I prefer to think of it as an insignificant afternoon class which was tougher than most. I think it accounts for 30% of the final mark […]


Please, everyone who can, see this film, and then tell me what it’s like, because it’s not on release here in Japan. I just bought the soundtrack. It’s my favourite kind of music. I think this has just become one of my favourite films of all time, and I’ve not even seen it yet. It’s […]

The power of thought

One thing that has always made me laugh when in Japan is the way that Japanese people thank me whenever I say something positive about the country, as if it was a personal compliment – which of course it isn’t! My friend Shari has written a superb little piece on this common phenomenon, which I […]

Muhammad Yunus to speak at Rikkyo

Muhammad Yunus, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work tackling poverty through his successful application of the concept of microcredit, will be speaking at Rikkyo University next Wednesday from 1.30pm – 3.30pm. I’m a big fan of his perspective on poverty & business, and the latter’s role in helping others […]

Trying not to surrender

Must…keep…my…interest…up…. ….just …one …more …week… In non-exam news, and I know it’s not helpful, but I can’t help but think of my departure, now just 5 weeks off. I think it would be easier if I hadn’t been through this kind of thing before, and thus wasn’t aware of how difficult it is for me. […]

One Year On

Dear John John, It was on this day, 1 year ago, that you began the next leg of your journey. A journey through places free of the constraints of the laws that govern physical matter, a journey free of the need to make seat reservations with Malaysian Air. On one of your amazing bikes with […]

Meeting interesting people

Imagine if you spent your whole life being followed round by a mini-me, that insisted on doing whatever you were doing, back to you. It would drive me nuts, and thus I really pity this guy. His brother, meanwhile, doesn’t have that issue. Interesting chap. We sat and had coffee for a while, and chatted […]

Horse in Shibuya

I’ve seen this horse a few times in Shibuya. It tends to frequent the mobile phone shops for some reason. I can’t think why though – have you ever seen a horse using a mobile phone? I mean, how would they hold them? I guess they could stand up on their hind legs and clutch […]

Revision vs. Procrastination

It’s interesting how Mac culture is really starting to become mainstream, something which I would say has only really started to happen in the last couple of months. Take You Tube’s new interface for example – the selection of videos offered at the end of any av story of a dog miming along to a […]

Book recommendation

I actually have a tonne of books I’d like to recommend – reading has truly set me free this year – but tonight I just want to pick one in particular, for the benefit of those studying Japanese. Boys and girls, Hoshi Shinichi (the kanji are ‘star’ ‘new’ ‘one’) is our hero. I’m surprised I’d […]

"What country are you from?"

When I answered, the old man behind the counter of the second-hand book store sprang into life, whipping out his gun and shooting me at point-blank range. I laughed, and told him that I loved James Bond too. I love him even more now that I know that he has succesfully taken Beckham out of […]

A Year in Japan Podcast – (mini) Episode 10.5 out now!

In the mini-episode 10.5 of the podcast that is for Japan-lovers what the iPhone is for MacAddicts, A Year in Japan, Joseph is inviting you to submit ideas and requests for the final episode of the current series of A Year in Japan, to be broadcast in a few weeks. Please send you ideas and […]

Fear of seperation

Subconcious fear of seperation growing. The tell-tale sign is the dream of living in the relative isolation of Kleine Scheidegg, Switzerland. This morning's was the most vivid yet. This time though they had a Chinese zoo on the 4th floor of the Scheidegg hotel, which i don't recall from my two years there!


Er, thanks LH, i meant July 10th!

On Hold

Life is on hold until exams are dealt with, around 10th June.

Language Learners: What’s you benchmark?

When learning a language, I think it’s really important that now and then, you look back on your language ability of say, 1 or 2 years beforehand, and compare it to the present. This gives you the opportunity to say “OH MY GOD! I’M AMAZING!”, and give you a moral boost during those times when […]

Little Pink Hat: An afternoon in Shibuya

Shibuya, Central Tokyo. The Hachiko Crossing. A Saturday afternoon. Little Pink Hat instantly caught my eye, outshining all the fake tan and bleached mops. She was riding high. Way above the southbound crowd that was taken up with negotiating a path through the onslaught of fresh arrivals. What would it be like to be that […]

Exam in Progress

I don’t normally go in for republishing stuff I get by email, but I found these so funny I thought I’d make an exception… Tags: humour | The Daily Mumble

In the news

Anyone is Herefordshire: I hear I’m in the Hereford Times this week. Anyone got a copy I can have a look at? Oh, hang on, there’s that internet thing isn’t there… ah, yes, here we are. I see the chose the photo in which I look the most idiotic. link [edit] Thanks for the pic, […]

Night food

Last night, on my way home from the Oxfam meeting, I decided to see how the D40x would deal with low-light conditions. All of my DSCs up until now have made a lousy job of trying to capture anything outside after dark. It’s either been a case of blur, overexposure of the foreground due to […]

Life on the 17th floor

This evening’s entry opens with two photos: “Tweety Birds”, and “Bicycle girl” This evening *Twinkle* and I attended the grand house-warming party of my dear friend Stu and his lovely wife Mariko. Wow. What a place. What a location. 17 floors up on the banks of the Ara Kawa (it is the Ara Kawa isn’t […]

More Photos

I took a scenic route to uni today , via the park. It was there that I found some lovely lilies. and a little boy, holding onto his hat as he chased a runaway kite. Leaving the park, I passed by our local pachinko parlour (slot-machine arcade), and finally captured on digital film their happy […]

Nikon D40X SLR Camera

Today was an exciting day for me, as I realised one of my long-held dreams: to own a digital SLR. Whilst the dream may have superficially concerned ownership, it did / does of course go way beyond that. It’s the possibilities that owning a digital SLR open up. I really have missed having control over […]

Seeing double. Seeing double.

A note about this morning’s post: yes, I know it appears twice! When publishing there was an error with the database, thus I published again, only to find tonight that it’s appeared twice! I then deleted the first entry, but despite the fact that it’s gone from my list of posts in Blogger, it’s still […]

Live painting, sponsorship and region restrictions

Thank you Tom for inviting me out last night to the club whose name I forget. This arty nights the name of which I also forget, are fantastic. Last night, in addition to live drawing by Chantel, a very talented artist whose hand and pencil movements are projected onto three walls of the club courtesy […]

Growth. A terrifying thing.

Wow, this are tumultuous times. This process of coming to realise what power I have over the direction in which my life is leading is positively terrifying. I find myself in a constant state of butterfly-stomach. My mind won’t cease from turning over a myriad of ideas, many of which require my stepping out of […]

I love her

It’s very late, and I’m very tired, but I just want to write a little about my cutey who is currently in the US. They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that you only miss something when it’s not there – there is some truth in both. Without wishing to dismiss the […]

A day of knowledge absorbtion and reflection

It’s been another good day today. Summer is really on its way now; this afternoon was the first time this year that I’ve got off the train and felt like I was being ‘hit’ by the heat. Yesterday’s bread turned out to be quite a success, although it was only when I reached the end […]

Epilepsy and Vitamins

I’ve had a busy day today, involving penguins, experiments with making bread in a large saucepan (*Twinkle* knows how to do it, but being mid-way over the Atlantic she can’t really help me out), and study. And buying Bjork’s new album. Anyway, that’s not what I’m here to tell you. What I’m here to tell […]

Flea Market for Oxfam Japan: this Saturday

Just a reminder that we’re holding our second in a series of “One Day Oxfam Shops” this Saturday, 12pm ~ 5pm, at Heaven’s Door in Shimo Kitazawa, 10 mins from Shinjuku / Shibuya. As well as being a great place to pick up some super-dooper bargains, if you’re leaving Japan soon and have anything in […]

A Rude Awakening

This morning I wake up of my own accord – a nice change from *Twinkle*’s mobile doing the deed. My relaxed state of mind was to come to a abrupt halt when I checked the time on my iPod – 12.30pm! We’d overslept! Today of all days! Alarmed, I immediately woke *Twinkle* up, “It’s 12.30pm, […]

Calls for a Chocolate Revolution!

Fair Trade still has a long, long way to go in Japan. It’s one of those areas, like supporting charities or human rights, that puts Japan to shame. It may have coin lockers and conveyor-belt car parks that are a decade ahead of anything we see in the West, but when it comes to issues […]

Hey! Hey! Hey! It’s time to party in Kobe

[this post contains a load of photos that aren’t necessarily related to the paragraphs that they are placed between. Such naughty photos!] Hoopla hoola hoo! Kobe mosaic Yes indeedy what an amazing thing this life thing is. Had a couple of excellent lessons tonight with three of my favourite students. I’ll miss them when I […]

Climate Change: They’re listening!

A message from Avaaz: This week, the G8+5 summit could reach an agreement to take bold action on climate change. Governments are watching our petition–help it reach 333,333 signatures by clicking here:Take Action Now! Our campaign against global warming is on fire! World leaders meet at the G8+5 summit this week–and they’re listening to us. […]

Steady George

In 1997 I spent 3 months working as a ‘counselor’ at Camp Jened, a holiday camp for adults with mental and physical disabilities buried deep in the American outback about 3 hours north of New York City. One of my best friends that summer was ‘Steady George’, who tended to refer to me a ‘great […]

In the press (again)

Thanks to Nigel and the person who kindly sent him the photo. The Trailwalkers in the Sheffield press! Read the online version here Tags: Oxfam | trailwalkers | The Daily Mumble

‘The Secret’

I’d like to write an entry to counteract the negative theme of my previous entry. This will involve trying to ignore the smell of what is either dried squid, or bad breath. It’s hard to tell, I’ve been on this night bus for 7 hours now and the majority of my senses have shut down […]

Are Western lives worth more than African lives?

The past few days gave seen me learning more about the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan, which is located to the bottom left of Egypt. Oxfam, the charity organisation that we have donated over £2000 pounds to, is working hard to bring clean water to over half a million displaced people. I read […]

Episode 10: Trailwalker Special Out Now!

In Episode 10 of the first ever podcast to break the world record for the number of hours spent being edited, Joseph whisks you away into the world of The Blisters and the Longlegs, a.k.a. The Trailwalkers. 100km. 7 mountain peaks. A 3500 meter climb. 31 hours. Without sleep. It was an epic adventure, and […]

Epilepsy update

I’ve been pretty much seizure free for quite a while now, with the exception of the few episodes I had at the gym following some knackering workouts. Just been taking my nice purple pills (Epilim Chrono), 700mg every night. This past week though has been very different. I’ve lost count of the number of ‘dizzy […]

Mongolia reaches its bandwidth limit

It doesn’t really inspire confidence when you come across the following message whilst attempting to access an Embassy website in order to apply for a visa. Bandwidth Limit ExceededThe server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.Apache/1.3.37 Server at Port 80 […]

Oxfam Trailwalker vid

Found this on You Tube. This team’s sentiments kind of echo our own!! Tags: trailwalker | The Daily Mumble

Hold the front page!

Yay, famous again! We (the Trailwalkers) made it on to the front page of the Sheffield Uni website! Well, at least a link to a press release by the media centre. See and look bottom right for the link. The whole story can be found at Exciting stuff! In other good Trailwalker news […]

School’s Out!

The cheers that erupted all across the campus could be heard for miles as the p.a. system whirred into action – yes, finally Rikkyo has succumbed to the measles outbreak that's now closed at least four Tokyo universities – we were told to leave the campus as soon as possible, and not come back till […]

The end draws near

When feeling positively overwhelmed by the difficulty of the grammar I’m studying, I try to take comfort in the fact that it’s taken from the highest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (a test I once intended to take, but now I have little interest in). Recently I’ve had a few emails from people […]

A call for urgent action

Climate change is something I feel really passionately about, and thus when I head the latest news about the US outburst against taking action to combat global warming at next week’s G8+5 summit in Germany I was absolutely horrified. Basically, the Bush administration has told Germany that it refuses to discuss any form of mandatory […]

This ‘Facebook’ thing

I’ve never really been one for social networking sights. They tend to bore me, with endless memes that are so dull they even make The Daily Mumble look like a good read. Don’t even get me started on Mixi – it clearly points towards the need for a revolution in the education system. What’s extra […]

The 3rd Floor

It is said that everything around us is a reflection of ourselves. I found that to be true today when choosing to alight on the 3rd floor. Tags: 3rd floor | The Daily Mumble

The life of a salaryman

It’s true. 98.7% of Japanese men are salary men, who slave away over a hot keyboard for 37 hours a day, 9.5 days a week, rarely seeing their wives or children. The lack of adequate time for relaxation means that many have to just take it wherever and whenever they can get it. Such as […]

This one is called…

Feet On Steps. They are my feet. But I just borrowed the steps. Tags: feet | The Daily Mumble

Oxfam Japan Trailwalker 2007 – Part Two

It was just after 7pm when we said goodbye to our support team for the night and set out for checkpoint 5. The route we were now faced with was not all that inviting, involving as it did a climb of over 500m up one of the most difficult footpaths of the entire course, to […]

Oxfam Japan Trailwalker 2007: Part One

The scene: In a bar, central Tokyo, Japan. January 2007. Joseph: Sponsored walk anyone? In aid of charity, should be a laugh! Friend A: Ooh, that sounds interesting. I could do with a bit of exercise. Friend B: Yes, does sound rather spiffing! I could bring along a picnic hamper, and the Pimms! Joseph: Jolly […]

We Did It!

Wow. That was an absolutely unforgettable experience. Very, very difficult. I am so happy we took that challenge on, and I am delighted we made it to the end, although it was very touch and go at times, and tears were shed along the way. I’ll post all the details soon, but for now, just […]

the long night begins

well folks its pitch black in the forest now. we've just started out on the hardest section. a 12k slog up a mamma of an ankle-twisting root-strewn path. Messages of encouragement welcome! email josephinjapan atmark 🙂

7.5 hours in

Been on the trail for 7.5 hours now. Blister count is a mere 1, which between 6 of us ain't half bad! the training has certainly paid off, as the knees fine. gettin a bit of grief, but the walking stick's working wonders. covered about 40k so far. reckon it's gonna be a cold night, […]

on the road

It's 5.53am, and myself and Jon are with our support team, Takashi and Twinkle, in the car on the way to the start point, an hour or so West of Tokyo. didn't sleep much last night, excited and nervous. just trying to picture a 100km trail over the mountains. i read somewhere that only about […]

Life is Wonderful

I found a beautiful piece by Mother Teresa today. People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self centred; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest […]

T minus 49 hours and counting

OK, Sleep Management Program has been initiated. Friday will see me having to get up at 4.30am, and not get to bed again for at least 40 hours. About 3/4 of that will be spent walking. Thus, today I’m forcing myself to get up early despite a late night, so tonight I’ll be tired enough […]

T minus 5 days and counting

Would you like to help us climb the final £200?! Thank you so much for all the donations until now, I can’t quite believe we’ve made it so far! I’ve bought my headlamp and walking stick, stocked up on protein and sports drinks, now lets just keep our fingers crossed that the weather will be […]

A Year in Japan Podcast: Episode 09 out now! In Episode 9 of the first ever podcast about life in Japan to have been listened to by aliens, Joseph takes you on a journey through his last month in Tokyo, which has included TV appearances, starting a new semester at Rikkyo University, working part time, playing with dictionaries and Training hard for a […]

Sorry, HOW much?

I had to double check. 120,000 yen for just one day’s work? That’s, er, £500 (US$1000). I didn’t actually realise that the agency that I did some TV work for last week were keeping my details on record – I was only doing it for a one-off bit of fun, and to promote small ear-lobes. […]

Click to give

Any click on the ads displayed at the bottom / to the right of the Daily Mumble will result in a 10p / 20 cents donations being made to our Trailwalker fund! Tags: trailwalker | The Daily Mumble

Individual responsibility

I was back in the gym this morning after a break of about a fortnight. It was good to work up a sweat again, and be lectured by that rather funny old man about the dangers of using a treadmill. He’s like a permanent feature of the place; his presence, and rather repetitive questions (we […]

Golden Week Review

So, it’s the end of “Golden Week”, one of Japan’s longest holidays of the year. So that’ll be four days off, followed by two days in the office, then another four days off, won’t it? One has to wonder who came up with the crackpot idea to go in on a Tuesday and Wednesday. I […]

The post you’ve been waiting for

Dear Mumbler, A couple of months ago you received the wonderful news that I and 7 of my friends are going to try and walk 100km in 48hours along a rather scary path across a whole bunch of Japanese mountains to raise £2000 (US$4000) for Oxfam, which is, as I type, working around the clock […]

The most beautiful sound in the whole wide world

Can you hear it? A faint “shuffty shuffty shuffty” kind of sound? You know what it is? It’s the sound of pure joy. Of relief. Of YIPPPPEEEEEEE!!! It is the sound of 42 pages of a Year Abroad Project reeling off my HP printer. Tomorrow it shall be photocopied, and dispatched to Sheffield University. This […]

Rooted to the spot

I’m very disappointed that I couldn’t go hiking today. When I woke up this morning the anti-inflammatory meds had worn off, and I was back in my paralysed state – I have since managed to get down from the loft by using the fall-down-the-ladder tecnique, it’s quite effective in moving from high places to low […]

The ideal wedding

Unless I’m very much mistaken, one respondent has replied that their ideal wedding would include …chasing sheep! Its interesting how much the wedding scene has changed over the past two decades in Japan. Gone are the 3 meter dry-ice emitting cakes and extravagant shows of spending. The keyword these days is “At Home”, with the […]

Kanji and Cakes

Just been going through the replies to my survey. Thank you to those who pointed out that the question which was supposed to read “Did your wedding include a cake-cutting ceremony?” actually read, “Did your wedding involve a getting inside the cake ceremony?” Ahh, the kanji! One slight slip up and it all goes pear […]

The relief

Wow. These drugs are great! The doc wasn’t all that impressed when I told him I was going on a long hike tomorrow, so, well, we’ll see how it goes. I could take a week’s worth of anti-inflammatories at 6am I guess. Raaa raaa wiggedy waaaaa.

The pain

Wow. This pain is quite extraordinary. It was early yesterday evening, as I was sitting here working on my project, that I first noticed the twinge in my spine. By midnight, the pain was considerable, and didn’t fade all that much even when I lay down to sleep. Waking up this morning it’s excruciating. When […]

Filming at NHK

I enjoyed that. Made my way to the NHK studios, where I soon met Emma, a professional British actress who did a superb job of lying down in a pretend MRI scanner, although her socks did give the director a little cause for concern. We were then joined by Melissa, a freelance writer of things […]

The calls

So, I got the call from the Beeb. It was a bit surreal really, listening to the presenters Mat and Liz on my mobile. Their voices are so familiar that it just seemed like they were recorded… not actually asking me questions as they were. I’d done quite a bit of research on disability in […]

Hair cuts and aubergines

Well, that was quite an experience… Last month, as usual, I went to my local Sen Yen barber (£5 barber), for the normal cut. One of the reasons it’s so cheap is that the service is minimal, I mean, they just cut you hair, and then vacuum your head afterwards. There’s no reception desk, instead […]

Then after the BBC rings, it’s NHK’s turn

Could this be my big break in Japan? I’ve been on TV over here a couple of times, but never in an acting role. I just got a call from an NHK producer (the NHK being Japan’s equivalent of the UK’s BBC) about a program that’s being filmed next week. They’ll get back to me […]


oh crikey. I just re-read the mail I sent (in Japanese) to about 50 Japanese friends, the one in which I asked for volunteers to take part in my wedding survey. Instead of saying “You can still take part even if you’re not married” I wrote “You can still take part even if you don’t […]

A post for my Japanese friends

日本人の友達の皆さん、少し時間があれば、僕の(日本語の)結婚式に対するアンケートを記入していただけると嬉しいです。 結婚していなくても大丈夫です! アドレスは: 本当にありがとうございます。

The BBC always rings twice

I’ll hopefully be on the BBC’s excellent Ouch Podcast next month, recording this coming Monday (just before the symposium at Sheffield uni) via skype. If you know of any interesting disability-related news stories connected with Japan I’d be grateful if you could leave a comment below. I have a few, but any personal tales would […]

Just what the sensei ordered: A Mini-Crisis

Of course it’s good that the current mini-crisis comes now, not in about ten week’s time at the end of the semester, or in October when my final year begins and I realise how far behind I’ve slipped. The past week has been a real shocker. Lectures going way over my head. Grammar classes in […]

A year of resistance

The resistance I have to writing my project for Sheffield University (that’s the one that we were told about a year ago, and the deadline for which is now just a couple of weeks away, and the one for which I have done virtually nothing) is pretty remarkable. You see my walking around in circles […]

Assuming a new role

Wow. Things really are rollercoaster-esque at the moment. It’s good though. It’s a result of being forced out of our comfort zones in a bid to better ourselves. One major factor is *Twinkle*’s new-found confidence, the coming into bud of which is an absolute delight to behold, whilst also being shit scary. It often happens […]

Live from the library

Tuesday, my longest day. I’m now on my lunch break having just had my first “Introduction to Life and Environment” class. I think I made a good choice there, it’s quite interesting, focusing upon the impact of humans upon the environment etc. It’s pretty simplistic stuff, perfect for someone who doesn’t speak the gauge terribly […]

New York to London (courtesy of Google Maps)

A Google Maps search for directions from New York to London suggests a somewhat interesting route. Step 23 could pose a problem for anyone wanting to reach their destination alive.

The Rieth Lectures 2007: Jeffrey Sachs

I’ve just been going through Arudou Debito’s website, a website which raises issues that every foreigner in Japan has a duty to be aware of in my opinion – those relating to the racism that we experience every day living here as non-Japanese. Another thing I should have added to the end of my banana […]

The more you know the more you realise you don’t know

Today was the first ‘proper’ day of uni. I met my adviser, the very kind Reiko Seki, and discussed my subject choices. That was all fine; she finished off by suggesting that I at least attempt to take the exams aimed at Japanese students this semester, as that way I could get more than the […]

Bananas and dandruff

So, holiday’s over. It all kicks off tomorrow, with one 90 minute lesson. Then a day off. Then another 90 minute lesson. Then two days off. I’m dead chuffed that I’ve managed to get Thursdays off again, and on Wednesdays and Fridays only have to go in for 1 class in the afternoon. This will […]

Synchronised Signalling

There’s been a lot of coverage recently of the World Figure Skating Championships, held last month here in Tokyo. I usually couldn’t give a blind wombat about that kind of sporting event – the hurty bit when they fall over puts me off – but such was the hype that accompanied the rivalry between the […]


Yo Yo YO WIGGY! Ok, so we are now conducting an experiment in Forceable Sobering Up. My spell-checker has broken into a sweat – and we’re only just into the second sentence. I’ve spent the afternoon in the delightful Shinjuku Gyouen with Stu San (of met-on-a-bus-in-Hokkaido fame), his wife Mariko and about 30 other folks […]

Oxfam tells us in no uncertain terms…

During my stint in the Oxfam office I did a fair bit of proofreading. The staff there do have pretty good English on the whole, but sometimes mistakes are made. There was one document – the mapbook, which will be distributed to over 700 Trailwalker participants (many of whom are native English speakers), which I […]

Spring REALLY is here!

On my way to the gym this morning I passed through the park. That really made me smile. Tags: Sprig | Tokyo | The Daily Mumble


I really enjoyed recording tonight’s episode of A Year in Japan. After I uploaded it, I thought I’d check the statistics which tell me how many times it’s been downloaded etc. I was a bit surprised to find that last month I almost exceeded my bandwidth limit – if I do that I’ll have to […]

A Year in Japan – Episode 8 out now!

The Tame Goes Wild Network proudly presents: www. A Year in Japan .com Episode 08: Capsule hotels, Love Hotels and Electronic Dictionaries In episode 8 of the most-downloaded podcast by Joseph Tame ever, A Year in Japan, Joseph brings to you insider information on not only life in a Capsule hotel, but also play in […]

First Day Back

Excitement. Trepidation. A little bit of fear. And a big smile. Maybe it’s not all that bad to be going back to uni after all!

A Letter to You

Dear Mumbler, In February 2007 I signed up to do some voluntary work with Oxfam Japan, a relatively young branch of the UK based charity Oxfam International that carries out vital relief and development projects in many of the world’s poorest countries. Through my work there, I came to hear about Oxfam Trailwalker 2007, a […]