Man attending the fires lit along the route around the village.

Occasionally the fact that I’m living in Japan suddenly hits me. Like when I realise I really am on a train in Japan, and I’m managing it by myself, or when I hear a snippet of a conversation and I pick out a few of my newly learnt vocabulary. I’m learning how this country works and how to live here, and it’s interesting, enlightening, and, more than anything, it’s really exciting!

A person using a fan to cool down in front of the bonfire.

The main reason I chose to study in Japan for the year was so that I could be entirely immersed in a culture so different to my own. And yes, although the language classes are a massive challenge, so far, I’m thrilled to be learning how to adapt and truly live in this country.

The “holy cow, I’m in Japan” moment hit me big time at the Kurama Fire Festival, a couple of weeks ago. Check out more information here: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/spot/festival/kuramanohi.html

Huge lit torches held up by men after being carried through the village.

The atmosphere was incredible. The beating drums, the traditional dress, the ancient rituals, not to mention the fire itself. I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but it was fantastic. To be in the middle of the countryside and to experience this age old festival was incredible, and I definitely felt like I was experiencing something truly Japanese. To see the entire community rally together to put on the festival was brilliant, and you could definitely tell how much they were all enjoying it.

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Japan: One month in

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