Send Sophie to Japan: Blog to Japan competition entry

Here it is, the fruit of my labours for the past few weeks. This is my blog entry for Inside Japan Tour’s Blog to Japan competition, which coincides with the tour group’s 12 year anniversary. Entrants have to present twelve reasons as to why they should be selected as the lucky winner. The prize is a two and a half week adventure around Japan and the winner has to share their experience of this wonderful country by writing a daily blog.

The video…

So, here is the video I have spent a good week editing and re-editing to make as persuasive as possible! Every campaign needs a name and this one is appropriately named Send Sophie to Japan.

Here is a lovely photo of my friend Leah with the mother of Koshi Inaba, one of the greatest rock stars in Japan. For some reason this picture didn’t appear in the Youtube video so I’m including it here so it makes sense!

As you will see in the video, I should be sent to Japan (in a box, if necessary!) because:

1) I’m a proven and passionate Japan blogger

2) I’ve visited Japanese events and written articles in the UK and Europe

3) I’m adventurous!

4) I know where I want to visit and want to step off the beaten track

5) I love Japanese history, especially the samurai

6) I want to write a novel set in Japan and need to do some research to make it authentic

7) I want to meet the wonderful Japanese people in their home country

8)  I love Japanese food

9) I am in love with Japan’s natural scenery, especially the famous Nihon Sankei

10) This is the perfect opportunity to put my language skills into practice

11) I have penfriends scattered across Japan who I’d love to meet in person

12) Just ask my friends!

I also made a top 12 list of things I want to do in Japan:

1) Take in the majesty of the Nihon Sankei: Matsushima Bay, Miyajima Island and Amanohashidate

2) Dance in the crowded streets during a matsuri

3) Read manga in a cat cafe

4) See a Takarazuka performance

5) Experience a traditional tea ceremony

6) Meditate in a remote Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine

7) Buy the freshest sushi at the Tsukiji fish market

8) Eat traditional gyutan (beef tongue) in Sendai

9) Stock up on anime memorabilia in Akihabara

10) Visit the Studio Ghibli Museum

11) Ride the high speed Shinkansen

12) Meet up with my friends in Japan and take them out for dinner… and make some new ones too!


About Sophie’s Japan Blog

The fact that Sophie’s Japan Blog is celebrating its one year (12 month!) anniversary at the moment makes me feel like it was fate that I found out about this competition. In the past year, I’ve learned much more than I thought was possible just by researching, blogging and speaking to other bloggers in Japan and the UK.

If you have a look around the website, you’ll see how it’s grown and developed. I ran a Japanalphabet Twitter campaign last year, where I shared some particular features about the country’s traditional and modern culture with my followers. I’ve also written a couple of guest articles for various websites and magazines and expanded my reading list with a dedicated Book of the Month feature.

One of my secret hopes when I started this blog was that someone would pick it up and send me to Japan… and perhaps I can really realise this dream!

If you Send Sophie to Japan…

On a daily basis, you could expect to see plenty of photos and short video blogs accompanied by the music I’d no doubt discover over there, sprinkled with observations and comments from my travel companion and myself. I’m famously generous with my camera so there would also be plenty of footage with which to make some longer videos and posts when I got back! I would also create a section on the blog dedicated to the competition so the experience would be digitally immortalised for all to see!

There would even be something in it for the readers too! I often run giveaways through the blog, so it would be wrong if I didn’t buy something on my travels for a lucky someone.


Winning this competition would allow me to combine my two greatest passions; writing and travelling.

Miyajima Island

Thank you

I really hope that you’ve found this entry interesting as it’s certainly been fun and challenging to make. I’d like to thank my friends who appeared in the video and all of my readers who motivated me to enter. The next stage of the competition is the selection of the three finalists, who the public will then vote on! So, if I’m lucky to make it that far, I’ll let you know! It’s been quite eye-opening putting this entry together. One thing is for certain, I think I have a good voice for documentaries!

All images from the Inside Japan Tours website and Leah Holmes

Not a real post this week…

But there will be TWO posts next week to make up for it! I’ve had a lot going on recently so haven’t been able to bring you your weekly Sophie-esque post this week but I have two reminders for you in the meantime…

So, see if there’s anything you want to get your hands on and check back next week!

London Olympics round up: Yatta, Team Japan!

Be honest, you watched the Olympics. Even if you were one of those cynics like me who wasn’t the slightest bit interested in the run up to it all, moaned about how expensive it was going to be and how silly we were going to look on the world stage, you tuned in for at least a little bit.  However, for 16 days, Britain was happy without restraint.

Yes, I caught the Olympic fever and even threw an Olympics party with bunting and cake and everything. Check out the video below of us playing suikawari (watermelon splitting) and destroying a poor piece of fruit.

I couldn’t resist blogging about the ‘lympics, so here’s a quick look at Japan’s performance in the event.

Number of athletes: 305

Number of medals: 7 Gold, 14 Silver, 17 Bronze

Most of Japan’s medals were won in swimming (11), judo (7) and wrestling (6) – sports at which the country traditionally excels at.

I was particularly interested in the gymnastics and distinctly remember those five minutes when Great Britain briefly held a silver in the Men’s Team before Japan appealed a decision against Kohei Uchimura and knocked us down to bronze. I think my reaction was something along the lines of “Dammit Japan!” but when I saw Uchimura’s performance in the individual round, where he won a gold, all was forgiven.


The swimming events were also fun and Japan got a lot of their medals here. Congratulations go to Satomi Suzuki and Ryosuke Irie, who both won a silver and bronze in their respective races. Five other athletes also won medals in swimming for Japan.

A couple more worthy mentions include Kaori Matsumoto, who won Japan’s first 2012 gold in judo, Ryoto Murata, who won a gold in boxing, and the collective efforts of the women’s football team, who won a silver.

Overall, Japan had a successful haul in the London Olympics and reached a record high of 38 medals. The Japanese Olympic Committee had been hoping for 15 golds and only one of these was in judo, one of its strongest sports, but 7 golds is no small goal, especially considering the recovery that Japan has undergone in the past year.

For a complete breakdown of all of Japan’s athletes and medals, you can check the London 2012 website here.

Don’t forget, there’s still time to enter the blog’s birthday giveaway! On a cheekier note, if you feel like grabbing some Sengoku Basara, Gurren Lagann or Miyazaki artbooks, I’m also having a eBay clearout.

The beautiful thing about blogging…

A lot has happened since I began blogging last year. Perhaps the most surprising thing is the amount of people I have met. Who’d have thought that sitting in front of your computer would get you doing so much? As part of the blog’s birthday celebrations, I thought I’d share some of its highlights and encourage some new people to blog.

To quickly summarise my life in the past year: I graduated from university, took a couple of unpaid internships, moved to London for a paid internship then stayed there for three more months looking for my next job. After finally realising that London was just too competitive and too expensive, I moved back to Manchester. A month later I got my job in a B2B (business to business) scientific and technology PR agency and have been there for four months. The blog has been a constant thing all the way through and it kept me busy when I was really down about applying for job after job and getting nowhere. Of course, I wouldn’t be blogging when I’m busy and happy if I didn’t enjoy it!

So, how can blogging get you a job? Well, it’s not an instantaneous miracle for sure. First, you need a theme, one that you’re interested in and one that you can write about for a long time. If you don’t think you’re much of a writer, take photos or draw instead. Second, you should spend a bit of time investigating – what blogging platform to use, how to spread word about it and so on. Expect a lot of changes along the way. If you look back at my old posts you’ll see there used to be a very rigid ‘weekly list’ structure, which meant hours of writing and a lot of skimming for the reader. The getting a job bit comes after a lot of patience and perseverance. Having something that you are passionate about and willingly spend a lot of time on for free is a good trait in a potential employee.

Rather than give you a long chronological passage saying ‘this happened, then this happened’, I’ll quickly run through the high points of Sophie’s Japan Blog and some goals for the 2012-2013 year!

  • Being approached by Yatta Magazine to repost my blog
  • Interviewing voice actor Vic Mignogna at MCM Expo
  • Writing an article on the Takarazuka Troupe for Diverse Japan
  • Taking part in Tokyo Podcast
  • Interviewing Peter Payne of J-list
  • Getting a press pass to Hyper Japan and writing a review in Cosplay Gen magazine
  • Receiving an email from a reader in Russia saying how much she enjoyed the blog! :)

Goals for the next twelve months…

  • Actually go to Japan and blog about my trip!
  • Interview some more voice actors (dream candidates are Troy Baker and Patrick Seitz)
  • Feature some more guest authors on the blog
  • Go to a Japan convention elsewhere in Europe (suggestions below!)

If you’re thinking of starting a blog yourself, go for it! Also, if you’re already a blogger, please leave a comment below and share your own story.

Next week’s post … we’ll be rounding up Britain and Japan in the Olympics! Don’t forget to enter this month’s special giveaway if you haven’t already.

Blog birthday bonanza

Sophie’s Japan Blog is one year old!

Last year, I was a fresh graduate looking for a job. The solution? Blogging about Japan! To celebrate a year of writing and to thank my wonderful readers (from America to England to Singapore), August will be full of giveaways and special features.

Japan Blog lucky dip

Here’s the first give away and it’s running right through to the end of Friday 31 August. Plus, if you follow the blog on Twitter or Facebook, you’re entered twice into the prize draw.

The prizes up for grabs (courtesy of my own bedroom):

All you have to do to win…

Send an email to with the subject ‘Lucky’, with…

  • The prize (or prizes) you want
  • What country you’re from
  • Your Twitter handle/Facebook name if you want to be entered twice

Winners will be emailed on September 1st for their postal address. It’s easy!

Coming up … Olympics, cars and a little bit behind the scenes! Make sure you don’t miss a post by subscribing today. Here’s to a year of the blog.