Monthly Archives: May 2013

Kume Island’s Lost Village

Last week, after filming an upcoming video post, I went exploring through Kume Island‘s lost village.  I didn’t stay for very long because of the danger of poisonous snakes during this time of the year, but I did have my camera.  Hidden under the trees of the island’s north shore is an abandoned village.  Today, only the walls and a few stone buildings remain of what was once a vibrant village. The only visitors are the occasional explorers and locals

2013 Kume Island Firefly Festival

Most small communities throughout Japan have several festivals throughout the year to celebrate milestones along the way.  The largest festivals are usually derivatives of the traditional harvest festival, while smaller festivals usually are tied to specific events.  On Kume Island, the start of spring is marked by the arrival of fireflies. Since Kumejima has its own species of firefly, they have become an important symbol of the island.  The official character is even a Kumejima Firefly.  Aside from Kume Island, fireflies are

Getto – It’s many Uses

Last week I caught this post over at Ryukyu Mike’s blog and was reminded of my time on Kitadaito Island.  Kitadaito’s biggest industry is sugar production, but during my time there (2008-2011) they created a factory to harness the many uses of the getto plant, aka Alpinia zerumbet.   So what is a getto?  It’s a tall stalk based plant with broad, tapering leaves and white cone-shaped flowers.  The stalks grow slowly but prodigiously, and regrow after being cut down.  They


Mozuku is a type of seaweed.  Before coming to Japan, I had never eaten any kind of seaweed, even nori which is the kind used in sushi rolls.  I had a vague feeling of disgust when thinking about seaweed, which is weird given that they’re just plants that happen to grow in the sea. On my first day at school, we had soup with seaweed in it, and given that there were a 100 kids around me waiting to see what the

Samurai Awakening wins the Crystal Kite Award

When I moved to Japan, nearly every day was full of new experiences, wonderful people, and rich culture I didn’t want to keep to myself.  In addition to this blog, I began writing my first novel, initially titled True Samurai.  Like many projects, it evolved and grew with the input and help of friends, family and eventually Tuttle Publishing.  After nearly three years, I was finally able to hold Samurai Awakening in my hands last October. The book industry is a vast space full