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About Mandy and Uncover Japan
Konnichiwa! My name is Mandy Bartok and I'm a Japanophile. I spent 8 years living in various parts of Japan before returning to the US for a bit, but a stroke of luck brought me back to the land of the rising sun and I couldn't be happier. I now live in Tokyo again and still get excited to explore one of the best cities on earth, and all the other phenomenal destinations across the archipelago.

You can read a lot of my travel stories and reviews online (I wrote for years for the travel section of the Japan Times and also keep a blog called Uncovering Japan) but below are a few fun "get-to-know-you" tidbits about me:

My favorite Japanese word? Any of the onomatopoeia, like kirakira for sparkle, or butsubutsu for grumble. They're just fun to say.

My favorite destination in Japan? Tough one, but Kurokawa Onsen in Kumamoto prefecture is definitely at the top of the list.

My favorite manga/anime? When my daughter was 4, I had a soft spot for Anpanman, probably the most popular kids anime around. Now, however, we're more inclined to watch My Neighbor Totoro. 

Best Japanese invention? Those car parks where your car is magically lifted up and deposited somewhere in a multi-story building and they always give you back the right one. Oh, and heated toilet seats. :)  My winters back in the US were ROUGH without those heated toilet seats!

Most unique Kit Kat Flavor I've found? Wasabi. It tasted ... like wasabi. Not enough like chocolate for me.

Favorite Cultural Experience? Hmm, a toss-up between watching yabusame (archery on horseback) at a castle festival and learning to do ikebana (flower arranging). 

On my Japan bucket list? Well, every time I cross something off, I find three new things to take add! I would love to ride the Tadami rail line in winter, learn to make a good nabe (hot pot), hike through the jungles of Yakushima and walk more of the Nakasendo trail. 


Visting the iris garden at Lake Kagurame, Oita Prefecture