Hello everyone!

As a new teacher to SES, I thought it would be a great idea to share my first impressions of the "land of the rising sun". Since I arrived here a few weeks ago, I cannot say that I have seen much of the whole country. However, I am pleased to share my first impressions of Japan.

Of course, one always starts visiting the cities and attractions nearby. For me, that was the city of Hiroshima - the cityscape was taken from the top of Hiroshima castle.


Then, I walked through the Shukkeien Park. It was peaceful, harmonious and so well maintained. 


There, we could see a lot of carps. No wonder why they have fascinated photographers and artists for years.


Obviously, I had to make a small trip to the famous Island of Miyajima and climb up the hill.


I hope you enjoy the pictures and that you are having a nice time. What is your favourite place to visit? Would you recommend me some spots?


~アイルランド(ゲール語:エアル)~ (トレイシー講師)


(Gaelic name for Ireland)

Hey y'all! It's Tracey! I hope that everyone had a great Obon holiday. What did you do? Where did you go? Wanna know what I did? I went to Ireland! :-) I spent 4 wonderful days traveling the " Emerald Isle "and I loved every minute of it. Shall I tell you all about it?
Before my four day tour began, I landed in Dublin with only enough time to eat dinner and sleep. I did not go sightseeing but it was ok because the main purpose of my trip was to discover the Irish countryside. I stayed in a hostel for the first time. It was an interesting experience but I think that I'll stick with hotels. :-) Here's a brief look into my trip.

Day 1
The day started as I met my tour group at 6:40 am at Dublin Hueston Station. We were scheduled to depart on the 7:00 am train. I was tired after flying for 15 hours the day before, but I was excited too! Once we boarded the train, we headed in a south westerly direction through the countryside of County Kildare, County Tipperary and County Cork. There was a dining car on the train and it was here that I ate my first full Irish breakfast (minus the eggs ..Yuck!). It was delicious! On the first day I went to Blarney Castle (and kissed The Blarney Stone) and the city of Cobh, where I visited St. Colman's Cathedral and the Cobh Heritage Center.

Next stop ... Killarney!

Irish Rail

Traditional Irish Breakfast
Blarney Castle
Kissing The Blarney Stone
 Colorful Houses In Cobh

St. Colman's Cathedral

Day 2
After a great night's sleep and another full Irish breakfast, I began my adventure traveling the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a 179 km long circular route in County Kerry. Every stop that we made along the way was beautiful and spectacular! It It was a great day.

Back to Killarney I go!

Dingle Bay

Kells Sheep Centre


Day 3
After dinner with the wonderful people I met on my tour, a great night in a local pub hanging with the natives, and ANOTHER full Irish breakfast, I was picked up from my hotel early to begin the next adventure. On the agenda was Bunratty Castle , the city of Doolin, the Cliffs of Moher, and The Burren. Day 3 was a good day.

Next stop ... Galway!

Bunratty Castle
The Cliffs Of Moher
The Cliffs Of Moher
The Burren
Galway (Eyre Square)

Day 4
Alas, it was the last day of the Grand Atlantic Tour. As I walked to the train station, I took a few last minute pictures before I met my tour group. We headed out to Connemara, one of Ireland's Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) regions , to view the rugged countryside. The highlight of the day was visiting Kylemore Abbey (and the Victorian Walled Gardens), a Benedictine monastery that was originally a private home built in the 19th century. Our tour then headed back to Galway where I caught the train to Dublin. Like the beginning of my trip, once I arrived in Dublin there was only enough time to eat and sleep (in the same hostel ...) before catching my flight back to Japan the next morning. Although my time in Ireland was short, it was very rewarding. I only dreamed of seeing Ireland before but fortunately, my dream came true. Even though my visit was temporary, the memories will last forever.

Slán ...
(Goodbye in Irish)

Kylemore Abbey
Victorian Walled Gardens


Matthews Tokyo Obon



Hi everyone.

This was my first Obon in Japan and also my first chance to get away from Yamaguchi. Hofu is a great city to live in, clean, quiet and the people are friendly but it’s very normal; so I decided to head to Tokyo to find as many weird and wacky things as possible and to meet some friends.
During this visit I focused on the Shibuya, Minato and Chiyoda areas of the city. Visiting such attractions as Akihabara, the Imperial gardens, the Yasukuni Shrine and Harajuku.

Harajuku is a great area of Tokyo, there are lots of interesting shops that sell lots of different niche products and the people and the environment are very friendly. I was lucky to see a big group of Harajuku girls they were very colourful and stood out against the crowd, in my opinion to spend that much time making yourself look that colourful is impressive.   


Considering that the bright, noise streets of Harajuku are only about 10 meters from its entrance it seems hard to believe that the Meiji Shrine is as quiet as it is. The shrines grounds are one of my favorite places in Tokyo clean, quiet and very green it is quite easy to forget that you are in the largest city in the world when you’re walking the tree lined paths of the shrine. One of my biggest regrets of the trip to Tokyo was that I didn't get to spend more time at the shrine but considering it took me about 2 hours to walk around the circumference of the grounds and I only just managed to leave before they locked the gates for the night, I think I can be forgiven.

Chiyoda is an impressive area, although I visited the area in 2010 I still find the Imperial Gardens an incredibly impressive sight. The contrast between the tall narrow spaces of the Tokyo streets and the wide open spaces of the Imperial Gardens is impressive enough in its own right but to have that reality thrust upon you by the very defined boarder between the two makes the whole experience almost surreal.

All in all whilst I had a great time in Tokyo and met some lovely people I and my wallet is glad to be back in Hofu. The big city is very nice to visit but I think I would have some reservations about living there.   




Hello, readers! This is Allison writing. September has started and the weather is beginning to cool off; the chilly nights hold the promise of the autumn to come. The cool weather has got my mind turning to the autumnal activities in which I would be engaged in were I back home. I am from Maryland, USA, and in September one of the most popular events is our state Renaissance Festival. It is a historical festival, celebrating the Renaissance period in European history. I have gone every autumn since I was in middle school and find it to be great fun. There are always many local artisans displaying traditional crafts, such as woodworking, blacksmiths, pottery, leather goods, musical instruments, clothing, and so on. Many booths offer delicious foods, such as turkey legs, candied nuts, cheesecake-on-a-stick, and local honeys. Many forms of entertainment are offered as well: you can watch actors put on comedy skits, live music and dancing, jousting, or get your face painted.

Actors putting on a skit
Costumed attendees
A blacksmith
 A girl tries on a floral headdress
 A shop selling clothing
Foods on offer


The very special day (from Karina)



Hey guys! Summer holidays just flew by and now days are becoming shorter and nights are getting cooler and cooler. But let's go back in time for a moment and remember together with me all the wonderful experiences that you've gotten on you summer vacations.

This year was very special for me, probably the most special ever. Not because I went skydiving for the first time in my life, also not because I could fully enjoy my first summer in Japan with it's beautiful beaches and sunsets. But because I got married to a man of my dreams ;)

We've had a great wedding ceremony in Moscow, and all the preparations for the wedding were done in just five days:) We've had a great mix of Russian and Canadian wedding traditions and it turned out awesome, with a little help of our friends, of course.

that's me and my Mom

my husband





Hello readers,

Some happy news back in my hometown St. Louis, MO, USA.  The St. Louis Major League Baseball (MLB) team, the St. Louis Cardinals are having a great year.  While looking at some news about the baseball Cardinals I was pleased to see that a Japanese native MLB player was being recognized for breaking an MLB record.

Ichiro Suzuki (鈴木 一朗) is a Japanese professional baseball right fielder for the Miami Marlins of the Major League Baseball.  Originally a player in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), Ichiro moved to the United States in 2001 to play in the MLB for the Seattle Mariners, with whom he spent 11 seasons.  After that he played for the New York Yankees.

Ichiro has established a number of batting records, including MLB's single-season record for hits with 262. He had 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons, the longest streak by any player in baseball history. Between his career hits in Japan's and America's major leagues, Ichiro stands at second place in all-time in top-flight hits, trailing only behind the great Pete Rose.

I was glad to see that he received a warm response in my hometown.



Local Cafe Recommendation

~オススメ カフェ!~(ミッシェル講師)


Hello, readers!

Welcome back from a busy Obon season! Summer vacation is almost over, and everyone is heading back to the grind* soon. I hope you had plenty of time to relax! 

As most of you know, I am a big fan of coffee. I spend a lot of time in cafes, chatting with friends, studying, or just enjoying a small meal. Recently, I've been especially fond of a cute, new cafe here in Tokuyama called "Kodama Coffee." 

From the outside, you might not notice the small, corner shop next to a big yakitori restaurant. But once you enter, the smell of roasting coffee is unmistakable. The room is dimly lit, with dark red booths lining the right wall. To the left, a long bar counter offers a number of seat with easy access to electrical outlets. The owner, a tall, slender man with a cheerful smile, welcomes you warmly. 

"Welcome, please sit anywhere you like!"

Sinking into the comfortable booth, you quickly notice the cat decorations all over the shop. From local artist paintings on the walls to the cat-shaped business card holders on the tables, cat lovers will be in heaven! 

Soon, you are offered a glass of water, some small peanuts, and a unique menu of coffees, crepes, side dishes, and desserts. Each month, a new crepe flavor is introduced - sometimes they are designed by customers!
Ice coffee and a savory crepe make a great summer combination.
The "Danish pizza" is really delicious. 
This crepe - green tea ice cream, Oreo cookies, and custard creme - was designed by me!
If you order a hot coffee, the owner may design some "Cat-fe art" for you!
So cute!!!!!
The cafe is located near "Tres" cafe off of Route 2. They are closed on Wednesday. 
場所:国道2号線のトレスカフェ付近 定休日:水曜日

If you have some free time, please check out this great cafe and help to support a local business! Find more information on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Kodamacoffee?pnref=story  

Do you have any favorite cafes to recommend? 

Until next time! 

* "Head back to the grind" means to start working hard again after a break. 




Hello everyone!

My name is Matthew Kirby. I come from Herefordshire in England, I actually lived in the middle of the countryside with the nearest city being Hereford about 10-15 minutes’ drive away. I came to Japan at the end of March 2015 to teach at SES. I have been working as an English teacher all over Asia and before SES was a university lecturer in Malaysia.
I have only been in Japan for a short period of time but I am really enjoying being here and I think Japan is the best country I have worked in aboard. Japan is a beautiful country, it's very clean and I feel very safe living here surrounded by such lovely people.

Although Japan is great I have been away from home for just over two years and I miss home very much. Hereford is a very interesting and quite city. Hereford has been around for a very long time with written records mentioning it as early as 676AD and many believing it has been around since before records began.


Hereford is near the boarders of England and Wales and was once a very wealthy trading center between the old kingdom of Mercia and Wales. Today the area is very agricultural producing a lot of food, mainly apples, potatoes and beef. A very traditional drink in the area is called Cider and is like a beer made from apples.



A Golden Week Starbucks Adventure!

~スターバックス アドベンチャー~(ミッシェル講師)


Hello, readers! And Happy Saturday! It's me, Michelle :)

During the Golden Week holidays, I took a trip with Allison to the Kansai Area. We went to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe, and visited many interesting sightseeing places there.

But for me, the most exciting part about going to a big city is...Starbucks!
The ubiquitous Starbucks logo: a two-tailed mermaid
 Have you ever been to Starbucks? It's a cafe that started in Seattle, Washington in 1971, and has since become the world's trendiest coffee shop. There are many Starbucks cafes in Japan, too.

For Golden Week, I went to a Starbucks almost every day! Their coffee is delicious, and they have rare flavors that other coffee shops don't offer, such as Chai tea and Matcha latte. Of course, their coffee is more expensive than other places - around 500 yen per drink.
European-style Starbucks in Kitano, Kobe
Anyway, I also collect "tumblers" (special coffee mugs for traveling) from different places in Japan. Now, I have five tumblers: Tokyo, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, and now Kyoto and Kobe, too. Aren't they beautiful! I think coffee tastes better in these tumblers (hahaha).
My tumbler collection! I hope to find many more!
Do you like coffee, too? What's your favorite coffee shop?
Please let me know if you like Starbucks as much as I do!

See you soon,