Once upon a time, I used to live in Japan. I worked there as an assistant language teacher for several junior high schools in the city of Iizuka. One of my favorite things to do there was travel, and I was successful in my attempts to go from one end of the country to the other!

One of my more memorable trips occured while visiting a friend living in Kyoto. We went to visit Mt. Arashiyama, which is known for its monkey park. The monkeys there were quite fearless in receiving peanuts from the visitors. In fact, I would say most of the fear came from our side...

We also did a day trip to Nara, which is close to Kyoto and also a former capital of Japan. Nara is famous for its deer, which are allowed to roam free. Most can be seen at Nara park, where tourists can purchase deer treats to feed them. Unfortunately, the deer don't always wait for you to feed them. They also sometimes don't care if you even have anything to give them or not.

deer chasing Alan

Yes, I know all of the pictures here seem to show me being assaulted in some way by the animal life in Japan. I just want to make it clear that no animals were harmed in the making of any of these photos. Technically, no physical harm was done to me, either. I'll never look at Bambi the same way again, however.

I also visited the "frozen north" of Japan, or Hokkaido. It is home to my favorite city in Japan, which is Sapporo. Yeah, that's right, the same Sapporo the Japanese beer is named after. No, that's not the reason its my favorite. (Although I did visit the brewery and had an amazing meal.) It's a clean, open and beautiful city that is close to numerous natural parks.

Hokkaido is also home to a "Ramen Alley" that I wish I could visit everyday for lunch for the rest of my life.