Tokyo, Japan

We lived in Japan from ’94-’97. Rodger was working for Sony, first in the Computer Science lab and then in the corporate labs. Doris was a translator/copy-editor for the advertising agency, Dentsu. We had a blast and fell in love with Japan and the Japanese people. In ’97, Rodger was asked to set up a new lab for Sony in Silicon Valley – an opportunity too good to miss – but we were sad to leave.

We lived in Tokyo for about 3 years – we had a small apartment in south-west Tokyo, in Ota-Ku near the Kugahara train station. This is the view from the balcony – of Fuji san, which you could see on clear days in Winter. I was working at Sony’s Computer Science Lab and Doris was working for the advertising agency Dentsu.
A classic temple site at Nikko north of Tokyo which is known for its ostentatious decoration. Here’s the famous 3 monkeys, see no evil, hear no etc.
Vending machines are almost an art form in Japan – for us they were a constant source of amazment, amusement and bafflement. This one we found on Shikinejima, a small volcanic island about 500km out from Tokyo bay – it’s attempt to appeal to the Japanese love of all that is western is classic
About 300km west of Tokyo in Wakayama-ken. We spent a few days at a ryo-kan in a tiny village with a thermal river running through it. At one of the thermal springs you could buy bags of eggs (from a vending machine of course) and boil them in (very smelly, but healthy) thermal waters! Great hiking and of course hours of soaking in the hot springs.
After living in sin (as my mum would say) for about 8 years, we decided to get married before leaving Tokyo. This select group gathered to wish us well and buy us champagne at one of our favourite cafe’s in Tokyo, Cafe Madu.
At Stephan Koehler’s Washi Survival School in Gifu-ken; Doris’ handmade paper drying in the sun – note Rodge in the background clearing scrub while Doris has all the fun!
Opposite our Apartment block was the local Tofu-ya – we were almost daily customers!
Ice climbing in the Japanese Alps in preparation for our Nepal expedition.
We knew little about Japan when we first got there, and certainly nothing about the fantastic outdoors. The Japanese Alps, a range running north-south about 150km North of Tokyo were a veritable playground in all seasons. They are relatively young mountains so had excellent ridge hikes connecting peaks at about 3000m.
Waking up on a beautiful winter morning during a backpacking trip to the Kumatoriyama, the “cloud grabber”. Fuji-san looming majestically in the background.
We discovered a new sport in Japan: sawa-nobori. Rather than hike up a mountain with all the other white-gloved Japanese hikers, you take along your climbing gear and put on your sawa boots (like climbing boots but with pan scrubber like felt at the bottom) and climb up the river to the mountain top. Great fun during the hot Tokyo summers, and good exercise too, especially since you have to hike all the way back down once you’ve made it to the top!
One of the many splendid wayside posters warning you about the pitfalls of hiking: don’t catch young ladies with a butterfly net, pick up the garbage that the gaijin left, don’t pour water over the fire your husband has so skillfully built and don’t cry when you realize you can’t read the kanji and are hopelessly lost 🙂
The wonders of Japanese low-tech: While skiing in the remote forests of Togakushi (Nagano-ken) in the middle of winter, we discovered a totally snowed-in vending machine. Digging it out was definitely worth it: the hot drink section was working and we had cans of hot cocoa and coffee (to drink and to put inside our down jackets to warm up).
The annual dragon boat race in Tokyo Bay. We participated as members of the IAC (International Adventure Club) team. Hard work, but great fun, once the 3 hour opening ceremony involving various priests and much chanting was over. The highlight of the event was the boat of the national defense team tipping over and all of their well trained paddlers floating in the water.


Our annual skiing trip to Togakushi with our friends Tim and Odile.

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