Writer: Steven Askew

My name's Steven Askew. I came to Japan in 1999 and spent three years working in Noboribetsu onsen, on the JET program. After my contract expired I was lucky enough to find a job at a private Christian girls' school in Sapporo. With a  few years experience under my belt, they let me attend university part time to acquire my Japanese teacher's licence, which allowed me to work as a regular Japanese teacher. I have been a high school homeroom teacher for the last five years and I love every minute of it - even the work, the tears and the stress. I have a Japanese wife and a three year old daughter. After so many years you wouldn't think I'd still get culture shock, but it comes and goes. I love this country, though, and the people who have allowed me to make it my home. I want to try and share some of that love with you.

Climbing Mt. Moiwa on Foot

If you have visited Sapporo for any length of time you will certainly have seen Mt. Moiwa, and you may even have taken the cable car to its top. It is a beautiful destination where couples enjoy the sunset or groups of tourists take a thousand photos of the view. But that is not how you “do” a mountain. You climb it. Properly. With good shoes. And with sweat in your eyes. It’s the journey, not the destination.

An Excellent Day at Maruyama Zoo

To be honest, I didn’t like Maruyama Zoo when I first went there about 15 years ago. The enclosures were small and made of concrete and the animals seemed unhappy. But the zoo has changed and is still changing. There has been a large amount of construction work to enlarge the animal's space and to improve the viewing experience.

Zangi: The Fried Chicken Bursting with Flavor!

Fried chicken by any other name would taste as sweet … is not true. If you spend any amount of time in Japan, you will soon realize that different areas have different dialects and different words for things. Sometimes there is simply a different word for the same thing: kawaii (cute) in the rest of Japan is menkoi in Hokkaido, while sometimes the thing itself has changed. Fried chicken in Japanese is karaage whereas in Hokkaido it is called zangi.

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