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Greetings From London

Andrew Gibson at the office, 2005Hi, and thank you for visiting this site. I am from Carlisle, in the north of England. I have been lucky to spend a lot of time in Japan, so when I returned to England in 2002 it was my ambition to establish a website that would act as a bridge between the two countries.

I first became interested in Japan when I went to work as a teacher in Kawasaki City schools on the "Jet Programme" (1990-1992). Some people are negative about Kawasaki because it is an industrial city, but I loved it. The people are friendly, and the Nambu sen makes life convenient. I lived near Futako Shinchi station, so it was easy to get to Shibuya. When I first visited Shibuya I thought I was at the centre of the universe. The noise, excitement and fashion was over-powering and very stimulating.

I returned to the UK to do an MBA, but I always wanted to return to Japan to work, and that's what I did. I lived in Ibaraki (two years), and then Meguro-ku, Tokyo (five years). My favourite memory is walking around the Naka-meguro area, near the river, when the cherry blossom is blooming. I love the way that the branches sweep into the river. The small bars and restaurants in that area are a great way to end an evening of "hanami".

My favourite part of Tokyo? Harajuku, of course!

Now I live in London. Like Tokyo, London is a great city. In the 1700s, a great British writer, Samuel Johnson, said that "A man who is tired of London is tired of life." That is still true today. I hope that this site will help you get the most from your London experience. "As you can see, we have included an English-language version to this Japanese-language site, to assist visitors from all over the world. The site reflects my own hobby, which is basically to taste the best that London has to offer, in food, entertainment and trips. I try to review experiences that are not in the mainstream, but which represent the diversity and excitement of this huge city. Enjoy!

Andrew's Ten Great Things about Japan & the Japanese

  • Politeness (in public at least!)
  • The fascination with the world beyond Japan.
  • The great street fashions.
  • The simplicity and comfort of a tatami room.
  • Onsens.
  • Honesty.
  • Hot sake.
  • The well-tended grounds of shrines.
  • The sun rising above the clouds, viewed from Mt Fuji.
  • Tonne katsu sauce!

Andrew's Ten Great Things about London

  • Wide range of theatres, showing everything from musicals to comedy to mystery.
  • Shopping in Knightsbridge.
  • Huge parks in the centre of town.
  • Speakers' Corner (where people from all over the world can enjoy free speech).Ah, London, the hme of the quenching pint
  • Camden Market (think Harajuku, but for adults -- great for fashion and pubs).
  • Bakers Street tube station (one of the oldest in the world --
    and still just like Sherlock Holmes might have known it.)
  • The street performers in Covent Garden.
  • Cask-conditioned ale (a type of "natural" beer)
  • The police (they really are approachable and professional).
  • Soho (the atmosphere of Shinjuku's Golden Gai, the food and shopping like nowhere else on Earth.)

Ten Things that Surprised Me about Japanese Schools

  • The students take their shoes off.
  • The "o-bento" are so well presented. Well done mothers!
  • The students stay in their classroom, and the teacher comes to them.
  • The large numbers of students in each class (in England we usually have around 20).
  • The large number of after-school societies (they are meant to be "voluntary", but I am not so sure.)
  • The students clean their classroom and school at the end of the day (great idea!)
  • The absence of large, grass playing fields.
  • Students sleeping in class (because they have been revising hard for their exams).
  • The students are allowed in the staff room.
  • The graduation ceremonies. (In England, we take exams in each subject, and you receive a grade for each subject -- there is no "graduation" or failure to graduate; but, of course, students do fail some exams!)

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