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About Mandy and Uncover Japan
Konnichiwa! My name is Mandy Bartok and I'm a Japanophile. I've been living in Japan for 7.5 years and can't imagine being anywhere else. I could bore you with a paragraph about my years in Tokyo, Okinawa and Kumamoto and tell you how, after crisscrossing the country as a tour guide and also as a writer for the Japan Times, I decided to use my experience to help other travelers ... but let's be frank. You really just want to know the craziest thing I've eaten here. 

That would be bee larva.

Nope, not kidding. It actually tasted a bit like Rice Krispies. Don't let that frighten you though. The food here is REALLY REALLY good.  

What else can I share with you? Here goes:

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? While my 4-year-old will always have a soft spot for Anpanman, she is now hooked on My Neighbor Totoro. Consequently, so am I.

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. :) 

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'd still love to make wagashi in Kyoto, ride the Tadami rail line in Fukushima in winter, hike through the jungles of Yakushima, and soak in the waters of Kinosaki Onsen.


Visting the iris garden at Lake Kagurame, Oita Prefecture
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