Thursday, November 17, 2011

To America!!

With my luggage all packed up, I headed to the airport on the morning of September 14th 2011, exactly a year after I first landed in Tokyo and started my journey. I had already sent three boxes filled with a year's worth of pottery, furniture, books, tools, and other things home a few weeks prior. The feelings I experienced are hard to express. I was incredibly sad to leave (and I miss Japan and all my friends there sorely), but I also felt utterly content- and there is not a single thing I would change about my year. I also can't wait for my return!

The sky over New Jersey!

This is 2 months late, but a HUGE thank you to everyone who followed me on my adventures throughout the year! I truly enjoyed keeping my blog and sharing my experiences! Also, if anyone has plans to travel to Japan, let me know! I have endless recommendations on places to see, things to eat, and things to do!

This officially concludes Louie Rigano's Fulbright Year in Japan, but you can still follow me and stay up to date on what I'm up to! In addition to my website (, and my tumblr (where I keep a running and often updated catalogue of inspiration images, you can find me on Twitter (!/louierigano), and I also have a blog over at Klat Magazine where I regularly post observations, new projects, and other news (


Love, Louie

Last night in Japan

For my last night in Japan and my last night as a Fulbrighter, I decided to do things simple. I rode my bike along the coast as I had done many times before throughout the summer, went to a nice restaurant, then as the sun set one final time, went for a night swim!

One big wave almost ended my camera!

Sunset Week

Two weeks during the year, the sun sets directly behind Mount Fuji. The coast of Kamakura provided the absolute best vantage point for some of the most spectacular sunsets I have EVER seen. One day, when I got back to Japan from my Asia trip, I was riding my bike at dusk, and I witnessed something spectacular. Firstly, I saw a huge group of people, most with big cameras (all pointing west), stationed on a cliff on the ocean, and I knew something was going to happen. The sun was nearing the horizon, and then in a matter of seconds a shadow was created as it slipped behind the mountain. Prior to this, the mountain was invisible, and only became visible when the sun went behind it. Mount Fuji appeared within seconds and then became outlined by golden sunlight. Unfortunately, I don't have photos of this first brilliant sunset (I never left my house without my camera again for the rest of the year!), but each night after, up until when I left Japan several days later, I went out to watch the sunset.
Here's my documentation:

September 9th:

September 10th:

September 11th:

September 12th:

Soft Cream: A Look Back

Ice cream in Japan is called soft cream, and I found it to be a particularly photogenic food. It is also much different from American soft serve ice cream. Hard to effectively describe in words, it is smoother and just more delicious! Here are some highlights from the year!

Matcha soft cream, Osaka castle.

Matcha+black tea+sweet potato soft cream, at the end of the Philosopher's Path, Kyoto.

Sweet potato soft cream, somewhere outside of Tokyo.

Salt soft cream!

Baked potato (amazing) and matcha+sweet potato twist, Kamakura.

Sakura (cherry blossom) soft cream, Yoshino (the place where the cherry bossom is said to have originated)!

Milk+matcha twist!

Not photographed but still amazing and worth mentioning:
-Sake flavored soft cream I would get every week I lived in Takayama after my Japanese lesson (even in the snow!)... It was made with local sake!
-Milk+hojicha tea twist that was sold at a road side stand near Kamakura, owned by a local farm with cows! Milk flavored anything may seem a bit strange, and this took me a little while to warm up to... but I think I might prefer it to vanilla!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Fireworks are a huge part of summer in Japan!
Some good times on the beach: