Category Archives: Traveling

Experience traditional culture with Japan tent

I’m finally graduating with an MBA from Doshisha University in two weeks from now. As a great way to end my life as a student, I participated in JAPAN TENT. In this program, 300 foreign exchange and research students from 78 different countries around the world are gathering together in Ishikawa Prefecture for a one-week homestay. I was offered a chance to live with two local families in the  remarkable beautiful and culturally rich Ishikawa.

The first three days I stayed at Shun’s house and explored the Noto peninsula, which has excellent seafood and interesting history from the Jomon period. I woke up every morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee from Shuns own Cafe Urara. The most memorable experience was carrying around a Kiriko or a giant festival lantern  at the Noto Kiriko Festival.

The last three days I stayed with the Kobori family in their huge Japanese house in Nonoichi. It was obvious to me that the Kobori’s represents the stereotypical image of a Japanese family: Grandpa works in the rice field and garden, Grandma stays home and cooks, Father works at a manufacturing company, Mother stays home with the baby and the rest of the kids goes to school. The Kobori family gave me a very warm welcome and showed the Japanese hospitality. In Nonoichi, I tried making magatama (a kind of power stone) and wagashi (Japanese sweets). The last day of the homestay we visited Kenrokuen, a landscape garden said to be one of the three great gardens of Japan.

I will never forget my time in Ishikawa learning of Japans traditional culture. At the last day, I got a notice that I was one of the 10% selected to become ambassadors for the Japan Tent program. Japan Tent is free of charge and all expenses are covered by sponsoring partners and volunteers. I warmly recommend You to apply for the program in 2017 because this is a new way to get introduced to traditional Japanese culture.

Made it to the newspaper

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京都の同支社大学に在学中、石川県のJapan Tentプログラムでの体験は学生生活の中で一番よい思い出になりました。このプログラムは世界中での78の国々の300の留学生を集まりました。綺麗として文化的な石川県にホームステイをしに行きました。石川県で二つの家族に泊まるチャンスがありました。


最後の三日間はホストファミリーである小堀家の大きく、日本的な家に泊まりました。この経験はステレオタイプの日本人家族を表して:お祖父さんは農業、お祖母さんは料理、お父さんは会社で仕事、お母さんは赤ちゃんのお世話、他の3人兄弟は勉強をしていました。 小堀氏は私と初めて会うにもかかわらず、親切で大変あたたかくおもてなししくれてました。 とても素晴らしい家族です。 観光で訪れた野々市市では、勾玉や和菓子を作ったりしました。最後に兼六園を訪れ、その美しさに大変感動しました。

石川県の伝統的な文化を学んだ事は忘れられない特別な良い体験となりました。 帰りの日は、全体の10%からJapan Tentの大使に選ばれました。スポンサーやボランティアの御かげでJapan Tentは無料になっています。心から日本に住んでいる留学生をJapan Tent 2017を進めます。

Skiing in Japan

A late Friday night, an international team of 9 participants set out from Tokyo in two rented cars. Since Japanese people, in general, have a tendency to work late, we departed at almost 00:00 to arrive around 05:00 in Nagano at our hotel. The group consisted of 4 men and 5 women, all with the determination to enjoy a nice skiing weekend. These kinds of activities are encouraged by Social Apartment, where you can live and enjoy socializing in an apartment style share house.

With only a few hours of sleep, we got up and rented ski gear for about 5000 yen and then bought a lift pass for about another 5000. Hakuba was the name of the ski resort we went to and it’s a village in the kitaazumi district of Nagano prefecture.  Nagano is mostly known for the 1998 winter Olympics, is also connected with Tokyo by the  Hokuriku shinkansen. After enjoying skiing for a few hours, we ate dinner at a quite decent Yakiniku restaurant named Miyama(深山). The night was finished with an onsen visit close to the hotel will some drinks at our rooms.

Skiing in Nagano was quite different from skiing in Sweden. The snow was equally great, but it was a bit warmer than expected. The ski lift worked flawlessly compared to Sweden and Hakuba was well staffed. The next ski trip will no doubt be in Hokkaido next year!




Cycling the shimanami kaido in Japan

Interested in cycling? A few weeks ago, two friends and I went on quite a long cycling trip from Onomichi in Honshu (the largest and most populous island of Japan) to Imabari in Shikoku (Japan’s smallest major island), famously known as Shimanami Kaido.

The trip took four days, and covered 160 kms by bicycle in total, and began with us setting off from Kyoto on a Monday around 12 pm and arriving in Onomichi at around 5 pm. We rented bicycles from the “Giant store in Onomichi” which we had reserved in advance, and rode them to our guesthouse “Anago-no-Nedoko”. Apart from being conveniently close to Onomichi Station, the Giant Store, and the start line of the cycle route, Anago has a special charm about the way it all fits so perfectly in to an eel-like alley. Early Tuesday morning, day 2, we set out after having breakfast at the guesthouse and boarded a ferry to the first small island, marking the start of the 80km route to the other side.

From thereon we cycled through six islands each with breath-taking scenery, crossing the ocean along six bridges, each an engineering marvel. Upon arriving at Imabari (Shikoku), we parked our bicycles overnight and then took the train to Matsuyama with the goal of going to “Dogo-onsen“, said to be the oldest bathhouse in Japan. We first checked in at Cinnamon guesthouse – also super cosy and convenient – and just as we were finally about to leave for Dogo-onsen to soothe our aching muscles, one guest told us that it was closed that day! It was later revealed that the famous bathhouse closes on just one day each year for cleaning and it just so happened to be the day we decide to go there. What are the odds?

On Wednesday, Day 3, we set out early from Matsuyama and took the train back to Imabari to collect our bicycles for the 80km return trip. On the way back we picked up speed to avoid the upcoming rain, but still managed to take a few breaks, including one at the kind Mari-san who gave us the sweetest mikan (Japanese mandarins) for free. We also made a quick pit stop at an island called Michikajima, which is officially the tiniest Island I’ve had the fortune of exploring. By 6pm that day we reached our end destination, feeling super chuffed at ourselves, and stayed for one more night at Anago guesthouse before making our way back to Kyoto on Thursday, Day 4, just in time for school.

This definitely goes down as one of my top 5 experiences in Japan! Shimanami Kaido is incredibly beautiful, even during winter, and I highly recommend you try it!



今治に着き、松山行きの列車に乗って、目的地の道後温泉へ行きました。(日本一の古い温泉)。シナモンゲストハウスにチェックインして、温泉へ向かおうとしたとき、ゲストハウスの他のお客様に「今日、道後温泉は閉まっているよ」と言われました。その有名な温泉は一年一日大掃除をするそうで、私たちはちょうどその日に着きました! なんてこった!



Mount Fuji

On an early Friday morning the 10th September, my friends Ashraf, Atreya, Daisy, Ryan, Tasneem and I set out to climb mount Fuji and visit the amusement park Fuji Q Highland the day after.

We set out from Doshisha University in Kyoto with a car from Times Car Rental. The deal was slightly better than expected because they upgraded us to a bigger car for free.

Arriving at Fuji-Yoshida (the north side), we started the climb about 8 p.m. It was wind-still and a quite comfortable temperature at the 5th station. While climbing up, we took a rest at all of the upcoming stations and decided on the spot to stay for two hours at the 8th station’s mountain hut. We went to sleep around 1 am and woke up at 3 am to climb the last bit up to the summit. It was freezing cold and the wind was very strong at the top, but we made it just in time to see the stunning sunrise.

After walking around the crater one lap, we started the descent around 6 a.m and it took about 3 hours to get down to the car again. It was very tough. In hindsight, climbing Fuji-san sleep deprived and jet lagged the day after coming back to  Japan from Sweden was not such a good idea. My body felt incredibly heavy and I definitely got mountain sick. However, we all did a good job on planning the trip and we had the right gear with us.

After resting, we went to an onsen facing fuji-san and stayed at a guesthouse for the night. The following day, we went up early to go to FujiQ Highland: an amusement park famous for having world-record roller coasters and one of the world´s scariest ghost house.

Take a look at my Gaijinpot post about FujiQ highland







Beauty of Shirakawago

Do the names Gifu and Kanazawa ring any bells? Or maybe they are a faint memory hidden in the recesses of your mind?  In this blog post I will shed some light on these two culturally rich prefectures in Japan.

Not long ago, I rented a car in Kyoto and explored the area northeast of Kansai.

The first stop was Gujo Hachiman, a small mountain village that takes pride in its water and is famous for its dance festival every summer, the Gujo Odori. It’s said that the dance goes on all night on each of the four consecutive Obon days in mid August. Another funny fact is that Gujo is the place where Japan’s famous food replicas were invented, and are still produced there today.

As the sun began to set, we checked in at the cozy Sakura guest house in Takayama. Before going to sleep, we had a Nightcap at the Red Hill Bar in a hidden place a bit far from the central area! The Morning Market was also decent, but filled with strange and often unnecessary things. The highlight of that excursion was that I was able to finally try goma(sesame seed) flavored ice cream! It was overpriced but delicious.

The second stop was our main destination, the amazing Shirakawago village in Gifu Prefecture. It reminded me of Sweden in many ways, except for all the Japanese people there. There was a fresh mountain river running through the valley by the village. The local village temple had a fire that was perpetually burning downstairs, and even during the hot summer months! I heard that it was to keep insects away.

We spent the last day in Kanazawa, where we stayed at another guest house. The enthusiastic owner there showed us the true meaning of Japanese Omotenashi. The house is called Akatsukiya and is a cultural heritage site. It also has a beautiful garden that can be viewed from the dining area.

The final destination of the trip was Kanazawa’s Myoryuji  (Ninja) temple! In reality, it has nothing to do with Ninjas, but the temple was built by the Maeda lords of feudal Japan and has many deceptive defenses. There were hidden rooms and traps, and scaled a total of seven stories! We first spoke to a rude Japanese woman who gave us misleading information about parking spaces. However, the experience was saved when a guide from the temple came to the rescue!





日没が近づいたとき夕日をせに、私たちは高山にある居心地のいい桜ゲストハウスにチェックいんしました。夕食を食べ、就寝前に中心部から少し離れていて、見つけにくい場所にあるRed Hillというバーで寝酒を飲みました。そしてまたゲストハウスに戻り旅の第一日目を終えました。高山市の朝市はなじみのないものや、観光で来ている私たちには不要なものが売ってあったため、そこでは何も買いませんでした。しかし、その朝、私はついに!高くて美味しい胡麻アイスクリームを食べることができました。