I hope you are reading this sat on a river bank under a cloud of pink blossom, because spring has finally sprung! Yes believe it not, after the months of shivering it is time to bid a bittersweet goodbye to the kotatsu, burn the over-worn HeatTech and break out the blue tarpaulin and picnic basket. Hello hanami season!

In this time of new life bunnies hop jovially in rice paddies as baby birds cheep in their nests – at least that’s what I imagine happens in the inaka. In the urban sprawl between Kobe and Osaka spring is truly signaled by the arrival of the sickly sweet and pink sakura Frappucino at Starbucks which tastes more like fragrant hand soap than its true inspiration.

April sees the arrival of a fresh bunch of malleable students, all eager and excited to learn English – yes, spring is also the season for excessive optimism. It is time to wipe the dust off your textbooks, dig out the stickers, get back out there and internationalise! And if the first week of ceremonies, health checks and tests trips you up in your eagerness to get back to the classroom, then look no further than our April issue which is fit to bursting with interesting articles to distract you until it’s your time to shine once again with that perfectly polished self-introduction.

This month Kylie is teaching us about the Japanese school uniforms we know and love, Taylor’s talking money in Current Affairs, intrepid explorers should have a look at Paige’s tips for Yakushima and culture vultures can learn about the intriguing Otsuka museum and an exciting band, soon to arrive on our shores. We also have regular features including part two of Savo’s inspiring story in Miso Green, the Kannon pilgrimage, a tasty recipe, Where are they now? and more!

To coincide with the new school year Dana, manager of all things HT web-related, has given the HT website a swoosh makeover. However, as with the teacher changeover at school, it is time to bid farewell to our stalwart designer, Karen. Thank you for your tireless commitment to the Hyogo Times, it has been a pleasure to work with you and I wish you all the luck for the next stage in your career – hopefully no one will email you in the early hours of the morning as I have done!


Now, readers, remember that cherry blossom season is short, sweet and spectacular, so make the most of the seasonal delights this month with breakfast, lunch and after school picnics.


Until May!