Site News

who moved those topiaries?

So after actually reading The Shining, I have decided NOT to construct a life size cyborg version of Jack Torrance. However, I am going to use my now ample free time to switch hosts for my website this weekend. Probably sometime late Saturday night (Japan time) and in the event that you happen to visit our site and its down I am very sorry.

At least initially there will not be any major changes to the website but in roughly a month or so we will be making some aesthetic changes and some minor additions.

However, there are some REALLY TRULY AWESOME things we are going to do in the near to immediate future.

The AWESOME list:


Sprose is a new comedy project from We get a lot of spam. Hundreds of thousands of poorly typed barely English words in the comment section that are somehow supposed to fool us into thinking a real person left us a message. However the artistic audacity that spam uses the English language with isn’t something to just be deleted. We think, simply throwing away spam is a tragedy almost as terrible as spam’s butchering of the English language to begin with. We want to provide the spam we get the proper ridicule it deserves. We will do this through dramatic and often sarcastic readings.

Also, apologies to Spam™ for being synonymous with annoyance and poorly typed e-mails.


KumamonDo You Want Stuff From Japan?

We are giving you the opportunity to have us do your shopping for you in Japan. Your wish is our command. More coming very soon!

Wish I Was There Photo Competition – Al Fresco Holidays Blog

Most things in life, even if they are advertised as free, are not.

Case in point. I would like the free camera offered in this photo contest: Al Fresco!

To get extra entries in to the Wish I Was There contest you can add a blog post about the contest. I assume everyone who is entering the contest is doing this. What is the price I am paying to increase my chances to win? Bombarding my social media connections with unpaid advertising. HOORAY! Just imagine me really happy with my new camera. Are you imagining it? Like, REALLY imagining it…? Ok good.

I have to tell a story with my photo sooooo…


Here is my story for this photo: I wish I was there. Venice breaks something inside you. Spoils you. Every step you take in Venice is somehow filled with wonder. Sure, its expensive. Sure, its touristy. There’s a reason it’s popular but my first glimpse of Venice was, shall we say, unconventional.

My wife and I spent part of our honeymoon in Venice. After a … rough… day of travel we finally arrived in Venice around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. When we got to Venice we thought the best way to get to our hotel would be water bus because our hotel had its own stop. This… at least from the perspective of a couple of tired and relatively cranky travelers was a mistake. From a budget perspective, it made a lot of sense because private water taxis are very costly. How long could the water bus take anyway?

About 3 hours later we were still on the boat. However, call it kismet, good fortune, destiny, or just plain coincidence but we ended up getting a (mostly) free sunset tour of Venice. For one reason or another, the water bus kept stopping in the middle of the really big canal. Because the boat was mostly stationary we were able to lean out the windows and snap some great shots of Venice that would have been hard to obtain otherwise. This photo above is one of my absolute favorites from that boat ride. Not just because it captures some of Venice’s heart gripping, breath stopping beauty or the elegance of a perfectly placed sunset in a famous location. Not because it was on my honeymoon and blah blah kisses kisses… but because it’s a reminder that even when things seem really annoying/awful/stupid/unbelievably inane, you’re still on vacation. Take a picture.

I wish I was there, in that boat, again, taking this picture.

So there is that. I hoped you liked my story.

With that I am entering this contest. You can check the formal details at the link above, what am I your lawyer? However here are the basics of what you need to do if you want to enter the contest.

“How to Enter

There are a number of ways to enter, all of which are simple and easy. Whichever method you decide to use, we want you to let us know the location of your photo and the reason why you wish you were back there!

The entry methods are as follows:

  • Tweet us @AlFrescoHols using the hashtag #AFWishIWasThere
  • Post your picture on Instagram using the hashtag #AFWishIWasThere
  • E-mail your photo into”

The contest submission deadline is Feb 28th, so get on it!

That’s all for site news. Stay tuned (what do you do if it’s the internet, stay logged in?) for all those awesome changes that are coming.

Andrew & Shana

Linkskey! 2/7/2014 – 2/22/2014

The internet is grain information and too sour for a discerning palette. Let us distill some of it into a nice glass of linkskey (links + whiskey).

We here at Easy Distance are purveyors of only the finest distilled internet. Cave Twitter aged in Facebook Charred Oak, bottle conditioned with Instagram filters into premium Vimeo bottles and shipped right to your reader, inbox or RSS feed, even Linkedin. We Stumbleupon only the finest ingredients to make Easy Distance Linkskey including: Bloglovin, Google Search,  Wordpress reader and even regular news sites as well. We take our internet seriously at Easy Distance and today we have brought the very best that your time can buy. Easy Distance Linkskey is best served with one ice cube and a splash of fresh spring water served in a crystal Tumblr. Now sit back, bask in the fine distilled internet aroma, and enjoy the easy taste of Easy Distance.



Another shot of Yotei-san from the summit.

Another shot of Yotei-san from the summit.

We definitely brought some Tokyo flavor with Reverse Cinderella – Shoe Shopping in Japan and Tokyo Adventures 2: Tokyo: Past and Present.

It may seem like we are posting a lot about snowboarding because we are. Here is my trip to Niseko and the most complete lists of Tohoku area snow resorts (in English).

Tohoku is really getting some great articles on There are snowball fights in Miyagi, a paper balloon festival in Akita, a write up of Zuigan-ji in Matsushima, a visit to the Matsuo Basho Memorial Hall in Yamadera and a cuteness’plosion in Zao at the Zao Fox Village.

Not Japan

General: Some how we were not recognized as top bloggers for 2014, but the year is young, there is still time…

India: A fellow ALT posted this experience recently about some time she spent in the Indian countryside.

America: Seneca Rocks, Monongahela National Forest from Wandering Westy. Some awesome views and pics from a gem in West Virginia.

America:  @BeyondMyDoor on twitter and from his blog a cool view of Shenandoah Valley which is near and dear to my heart.

Canada: Also in North America Hecktic Travels are exploring some of the finer elements of winter in Alberta. @HeckticTravels. That’s ok with me. SNOW ON!

Spain: A peek at Costa Brava from Go See Write.

ESL teaching

I came across this cool little website packed with free English teaching tests that you can adapt for ESL. As always double check free content for accuracy before you put it in front of students.

Cooking in the shower

Yakisoba Deluxe is the recipe of the week here at Easy Distance. Give it a shot and let us know what you think.

Humor and Cool Stuff

liebsterWe were given a Liebster Award this month by Introvert Japan. You can check out our answers to his questions here, and his Liebster award post here.

Here is an awesome compilation of Okinawan music from Elisa at Audiographer whom I awarded the aforementioned Liebster award to as well.

Why you should date a girl who travels. Sorry fellas, but this one is off the market.

Uncovering Japan wants you to experience wearing a kimono.

Lines of Control Episode 2 is out! Check it out on Epic TV or on the SoulRyders page.

Lastly, in case you are unaware, this little guy is the worlds cutest pomeranian.

Liebster Award

liebsterWell, this is new. Recently a fine gentleman by the name of Nathan from Introvert Japan nominated us for a Liebster Award. Not to be confused with the Lobster Award which is given to the most handsome Maine lobster as voted on by restaurant patrons. If you are a lobster, “the Lobster” is literally a death sentence, but we digress.

We are honored in a way that cannot be put to words, so here is a picture of a red panda.Red Panda

The red panda’s cuteness, which it has in abundance, represents the honor we feel for having been nominated/given a Liebster. Three cheers and a hearty hurrah for Nathan! Nathan felt that An Easy Distance met the criteria of being a quality blog with less than 200 followers (followers…THAT HE KNOWS ABOUT, MUHAHAHAHAHA), to wit he has given us a chance to pass the Liebster on to yet another generation of young blogs.

The origins of the Liebster are unknown, possibly the internet gods bestowed it to the original bloggers to pass down, or maybe Bill Gates is still secretly operating a 98° boyband fan blog and needed a way to earn followers. Regardless of its origin, the Liebster entails two things that must be done to complete the awarding:

1) Answering some personal questions.

2) Nominating some other blogs for the award, around 10 to be imprecisely precise.

Lucky for you, because Easy Distance has two writers, everyone gets two answers for the price of 1 question! It really is a bargain. For those of you that are new to Easy Distance, we have a couple subsections of our blog, one of them is Love and Travel where we tell stories from two perspectives. Shana is in italics and Andrew is in regular type face… On to the questions.

1) What’s your favorite book?

This is an insanely difficult question for me because I love books. Non-fiction, fiction, classical, contemporary, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and poetry, they have all been assaulted by my eyes for hours on end until they gave in and told me how the story ended. Let me pick some authors instead. PLEEEEEZE. K. Thanks.

Modern American Lit – Chuck Palahinuk and Cormac McCarthy: Palahinuk’s Survivor and Choke are two of the most mortifying reads. I loved laughing out loud at their gross morbidity. However, Suttree by McCarthy combines that awesome sense of macabre with humor that is only matched by his beautiful prose. (Example: a guy going to prison for raping an unwilling watermelon) (I laughed while typing that). Blood Meridian is not humorous at all but is equally brilliant and horrifying as a stark portrayal of lawless southwestern America in the late 1800’s. Special nod to John Kennedy O’Toole for Confederacy of Dunces which added the phrase, “floral abortion” to my lexicon.

Sci-fi/Fantasy – Piers Anthony’s On a Pale Horse, Asimov – ALL (particularly Nightfall and Nemesis), Dan Simmons – Hyperion Cantos, Kurt Vonnegut – ALL (Cat’s Cradle is the best though).

This isn’t going very well is it. OK, I promise, only one more.

Non-fiction – The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins and Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.

Sorry. Not Sorry. Books are amazing.

Andrew may have trouble with this one, but mine is “The Count of Monte Cristo,” unabridged in all its 1,200 page glory. Runner-up: “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations”

2) Choose a new name. What is it?

I like alliterative names, so something like Alex Applebee or Morgan McMurdock. A good jazz name is always cool, Franky “Two Tone” Fitzsimmons.

Andrew and I recently had a debate about the proper pronunciation of “hegemony.” Turns out we were both right, but I learned that I liked his pronunciation more: he-je-muh-nī. It’s beautiful, and I thought it would be a lovely name. Also beautiful, the word “diaspora,” so I guess my name would be Hegemony Diaspora.

3) If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you think you were?

11 – I can be incredibly childish but I’m usually smart enough to know better.

23- Since I am now doing what I should have done after college, I feel like I just graduated.

4) Imagine you’re on death row. (Sorry to be grim.) What’s your last meal?

French Laundry

Is it weird if I want to know why I’m on death row because that would change my meal choice? A little? yeah. I would likely go for a really good pizza or hamburger. Also a really good Italian deli sandwich would be a great last lunch instead of last dinner if they were executing you at like 2pm instead of midnight.

One of those custom-designed 20 course meals from French Laundry, or some such equally respectable gourmet kitchen. It is a must before I die, although I doubt a prison would have (or spare) the budget for such an experience.

5) Do you want tomorrow be fun or peaceful?

Life is short, have fun while you can. Besides, who says peaceful can’t be fun?

Fun usually involves other people, and building and sustaining personal relationships is paramount to me. Fun.

6) What’s your favorite quote?

Look at that mustache!

Mark Twain had a knack for brevity and power, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” Although, a less surly version would be Plato’s, “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”

“Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves- goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, Crying ‘What I do is me: for that I came.'”- Gerard Manley Hopkins

7) What makes you lose track of time?

The internet. In general my computer with photography, writing, reading and did I mention the internet.

Talking to people. I can spend hours in a conversation and not even notice.

8) You have a door to anywhere. Where does it go?

Holy Smokes. Ok, so remember earlier where I mentioned, Dan Simmons’ books Hyperion Cantos. The first book introduces these devices called “farcasters” which are basically portals that go anywhere in the universe where there is a companion portal installed. So, really rich people have farcaster toilets where you can use the loo on tower in the middle of the desert or they have a private bedroom on another planet. Anyways, I would have a door that goes to the top of a mountain, for many reasons, but mainly mountains are awesome.

My parents’ house. Yeah, I know that might sound lame, but when that’s all the immediate family you have and you live thousands of miles away, you just want to go home sometimes. Plus my parents’ German Shepherd goes absolutely nuts when I walk in the door. Can you imagine visiting a friend who proceeded to tackle you, kiss you and run around the house for five minutes shouting “Shana’s here!! Shana’s here!!” It would make you feel pretty damn special.

9) What makes you smile?

Not in any order: playing guitar, taking awesome photographs, my wife’s face, great food with good company, good whiskey and wine, snowboarding.

Tap dancing, sitting in restaurants, clouds, free chocolate, someone else smiling, Andrew’s terrible puns, being in a room with people I love, anything Shakespeare related, and finding tissues in my pockets that I strategically placed there but forgot about until I needed them.

10) What’s one possession you’ll never throw away?

I’m such a packrat. I love keep sakes. I have a ton of them from my travels. It’s unlikely I would ever willingly throw any of that away. My Green Bay Packer Owner’s certificate is a good candidate as an exemplar.

My grandmother’s watch, which I “borrowed” from my mother and am wearing at this moment. It’s the only watchband that has ever fit my tiny wrist, and it has no batteries, just needs to be wound once a day. I love it’s antique qualities, and I have a thing about the time. At any given moment, I have to be able to know what time it is, even if I never check to see. There’s probably a clinical term for this, and owning a watch is more convenient than stocking clocks in every room. The answer is always near at hand…get it?

There you have it, those are our answers. Thoroughly insightful, no doubt.

Now on to the second major task associated the Liebster. Here are some burgeoning blogs that belong in your blogroll.
My cousin Shou is off in Africa teaching English for the Peace Corps. Awesome. One of his fellow Peace Corp volunteers runs the blog Fishing in Zambia, also awesome.

see what I did there…?
If you like pictures of delicious food with recipes and a little humor Emily’s Pig & Quill is a great place to stop by. Give her some love.
Awesome photography shot here in Japan.
Heavy metal fan, family man and tourist extraordinaire. Check out his app too.
Follow a journey from the beginning. This young lass is blogging about ESL teaching and she hasn’t even left yet. She’s thinking about China.
Is there anything cooler than the background to the music? The story behind the song? Check out some interesting sound bytes with Elisa on Audiographer.
While they do have over 300 followers I am a rule breaker, a deviant and an avant-garde awards-giver-outer. Check out Uncovering Japan for great travel highlights in… Japan.
Pretty self explanatory title actually. +1 Google points. Go there, go back to your kitchen and make stuff.
Living in Korea would likely provide an equal amount of culture shock as Japan does. You can read more about that here on the Culture Muncher.

Below are the questions we would like you answer, you can copy and paste them to your blog or go free form and answer in a long form essay. However, because there are two of us, we get to ask 15 questions, its only fair. Also, in a reverse Liebster switcharoo… DUNDUNDUUUUN, it would be really cool if Nathan would also answer these questions…

  1. Favorite play seen in a theater. Musicals are acceptable as well.
  2. What is your next travel destination and why? Can we stay at your place while you are gone?
  3. Who was your best teacher, school or otherwise?
  4. What is the best season?
  5. Design your own house. What are the three coolest, most unique, awesome parts of your new home?
  6. A local TV news crew is conducting people on the street interviews during a street fair, you are a LARPer. You are asked by the reporter, “What do you think of the festivities so far?” What do you say to the camera?
  7. What is the meaning of life?
  8. Would you want your first child to be male or female? Why?
  9. Where was your favorite picture taken?
  10. What is the most absurd thing that has ever happened to you?
  11. Have you ever been legitimately mistaken for a celebrity? Who was it?
  12. Would you rather smell like Velveeta but be amazingly handsome/beautiful or be horrendous to look at but have a free supply of Velveeta for life? Things to consider: being mistaken for nachos, awkward sex life, and awesome sports viewing parties.
  13. Could you get by without a car? For how long?
  14. Which do you prefer, the city or being out in nature? Why?
  15. Pretend you are a cave person. Would you rather be on the hunt or stay in the cave?

Well there you have it. Those are our questions. I hope you enjoy our blog. We’ll continue to publish long form adventure, teaching, romance and cooking content because listicles are making us more stupider. I is more stupidified for has typing that word, “listicle” ugh.

I’m going to go wash my mind out with soap now. You should leave. But not our page. Just this one in particular. Go here: About Easy Distance

A massive link pile-up 1/24/2014 – 2/7/2014

This is Chopper Dave in the News 5 UltraJet Copter for Channel 5 News. We’ve got a massive link pile up over there on… its going to add a good solid 10 to 15 minutes extra to your browsing time today. As always, browse with the Ad Blocker on, your eye in the sky with web traffic and weather together every 10 minutes on the 5, back to you Anchor Dave, HEYOOOO!

Thanks, Chopper Dave. These last two weeks have been chock full of awesome travel, ESL, humor and cooking stuff and we’ve spilled it everywhere in the gigantic car crash of internets below. Hooray!



We are in Sapporo, Hokkaido for Yuki Matsuri (the Snow Festival). We took  a ferry, overnight into the dark, cold waters of the Pacific… Stalk us at the snow festival by tweeting, instagramming, tumblring, and facebooking, there will be NO PRIVACY.

On snowboarding, I visited Zao Eboshi and you can read about it! My recap of a day and a half at Niseko United is coming soon.Zao Eboshi

Japan Travel published a photo story of Fukuurajima, featuring some of my photography, a recap of Sendai’s Pageant of Starlight, a fantastic campground in Minamisanriku and a look at Sendai’s local ramen chain.

Follow @TheTravelLiz on twitter through her Tokyo adventures and beyond.

Not Japan

Asia –
South Korea: Easy Distance added an awesome South Korean side trip to the Atlas Obscura. You can read a more personal adventure here on Easy Distance and find out what it’s like to carry a hot bag of vomit through a 600 year old traditional village.

Thailand: The battle for Thailand’s soul – A great but depressing read from BBC News

Africa –
Zambia: My cousin Shou (who is an excellent artist I might add) is keeping a travel blog of his time Africa. Why don’t you pay his site a visit?

South Africa: The Travel Dudes give you info you need to kiss a great white shark… honestly for me, there are too many fish in the sea.

Europe –
Germany: Easy Distance wrote an article about the Green Vault on Atlas Obscura, a must see collection of royal weirdness in Dresden, Germany.

England: If  you are a fan of Sherlock, check out the Sherlock trail here “On the Luce”

South America –
Chile: Have a look at the best view in Santiago from

englishESL teaching

In the last two weeks we published a 3 pieces of a 4 part in depth look at the decisions and realities of being a teacher in Japan. You can read through the series here.
Part 1 – ALT vs Eikaiwa: Epic Life Decision Battle
Part 2 – The Reality of being an ALT
Part 3 – ALT vs JET-ALT: The Battle Continues
Part 4 – A day in the life, a humorous retelling of a day as ALT (Coming Soon!)

As an ESL teachers we are constantly reviewing our own grammar and knowledge of English. I find myself on Grammar Monster quite a bit. Here is a great little blog about teaching in China, AnIrishExplorer.

nabeCooking in the shower

Nabe, ALL THE NABES. Nabe is the dish of February… winter. You can read our recipes on Cooking the shower and find out, why exactly, do we cook there…

Humor and Cool Stuff

There were a ton of Super Bowl commercials floating around the twitter and facebooks but the US of A has nothing on Japan. Check out some these crazy ads from Japanese television.

Kogelmann - BackflipSoulryders are showing trailers for their Movie, “Lines of Control.”  My friend Mark Kogelmann is one of the guys from SoulRyders, these guys are savage, take a look.

Here are some style ideas for dudes on our Suit Up board.

Have a listen and read this awesome story about the recently passed Pete Seeger from AudioGrapher

Last but not least, DefendersNW is starting another rebuild project. Check out their twitter feed and their web store.

Linkstravaganza: 1/1/2014 – 1/24/2014

In 2014, Easy Distance will bring you the most interesting things we came across out there in the dangerous wilderness of the internets. This is our inaugural link collection post so it covers the first three weeks of January and is really, really, long. After this it will be on a regular schedule of every other week.

*puts on sunglasses*

Deal with it.

January 1st to January 24th 2014



Earth Camp has an event coming up Feb 8th and 9th.  You can read about my Earth Camp experience on Japan Travel here. Featured in many Earth Camp tours is the out of this world onsen at Hotel Kanyo.

Easy Distance brought you write ups of Hakuba 47 & Goryu and Happo-one this month.
Japan Travel has a write up of Happo-one as well and here is a great top 5 Japanese winter resorts list from Rocket News.Hakuba Panorama

Muza-chan published this delightful story of samurai romance in Kyoto.

Easy Distance also added Yamadera to the Atlas Obscura in January. A true must see if you visit Tohoku.

Not Japan

Andaman seaRead this harrowing tale of environmental ignorance from our Love and Travel series
Sink or Swim…

South America
Benjamin Trotter completed his trip through South America in December, check out his travel writing here.

Nicaragua: Take a dungeon tour with Jennette and Doug from JD Expats

North America
California: Go postal in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

France: Check out the ante chamber to the guillotine and place where Van Gogh painted his most renown work from the Atlas Obscura.

Check out our Pintrest, too: Been There, Done That.


ISPYEasy Distance’s Lessons Learned this month featured the game BLOCK! It’s like Scattergories but with less gore… you don’t play with swords then? Oh, this is awkward.

Cornish Kylie lets us in on a lesson with Onoma… onomatonope… hmmm BANG… WOOF WOOF! What was that!? *mumble mumble*, Thailand.

An interesting read from the opinion column of Japan Times regarding the drawbacks of teaching for a large conversation school in Japan. Can’t say I disagree…


Mapo dofuMapo dofu is Cooking in the shower’s dish of the month.
Check out the recipe for some other mapo dofu links!

Also if you’re looking for a good pasta salad, I’ve been making this one a lot!

Humor & Cool Stuff

Man this looks so sick. Sorry to bro out for a second but this video looks awesome.
Trailer for Lines of Control and Epic TV skiing adventure Kashmir

From Rocket News, a write up on a single’s kotatsu… major frownies. has an interesting and mouth watering look at Japanese culture… via sandwich?

There is always the Easy Distance tumblr for your mostly daily bits of randomness from Japan.

Until two weeks from now…

Easy Distance – Site News


“can I use your computer?”

Well hello there.

So yeah, that took a little longer than expected but my computer is up and running again with full access to all the wonderful media that you have (probably not) come to expect on my site.

That being said, I will hopefully be back to a regular posting schedule (three times a week) with new Lessons Learned, Cooking in the Shower, Love & Travel, and finally just funny / interesting stuff about Japan with Open Kimono.

Please forgive my extended absence as it was slightly beyond my control.

The ghosts of Steve Jobs and Christmas past conspired to cause a massive malfunction in my solid state drive and logic board, requiring 4 separate trips to the Apple Store and a whopping $800 dollar bill.

Special thanks to Sarah Brown Sensei and her Japanese skills who argued on my behalf with the Apple Store to fix my computer for free. Because of Sarah and her insistence at my insistence, all it cost me to get my computer fixed was $36 dollars in train fare, $8 dollars at Subway and $5 at Yoshinoya (which is now a personal favorite).

As for my fully functional Kurt Russell robot from Big Trouble Little China, well, it looked stupid. I am swapping it out in favor of a fully automated AI Jack Nicholson robot from the Shining.

Alternate captions for the above photo included but were not limited to:
“I’m baaaaaaaack!”
“I smell bacon.”
“Your door appears to be malfunctioning.”

Easy Distance – Site News

A bit of Brian Williams here but I have some news.

It’s not like this website is getting the same kind of volume as the Facebook or the Twitter but in all fairness I feel a little explanation is owed. In the midst of some redesigns for the website my computer’s drive and logic board decided it would fail. Clearly spiteful of the amount of Powerpoint that was being done on it.

This means two things.

One: I can’t finish watching season 5 of Breaking Bad and if you ruin it for me, I will kill you.

Two: Some design changes, posts and my functioning Jack Burton robot will have to wait.

How long will Easy Distance be down for?

That is a great question. According to the Apple Store in Sendai, at least a month. They said my computer was so old they had to order the parts and have them sent in. I bought my computer in August 2012.

Regardless, I will post what I can from the iPad and other devices that have made me a slave to Big Apple.