Woodingdean, Ovingdean, Rottingdean – The Great 3 Deans Journey

Recently I attended a walk with the Brighton Japan Club across the 3 Deans outside of Brighton. This was better know as Woodingdean, Ovingdean and Rottingdean. It was a great day for a walk it was sunny with temperatures floating near 20 degrees Celsius.

It was the second time I had done this walk and it was one of my favourites as the last time I did this walk I struck up some surprising strong friendships which I still hold dearly to this day.

If your looking for a wonderful day out with this club and firm friendships, you know where to come.

Firstly you may ask what is Brighton Japan Club?

For those that don’t know Brighton Japan Club is a club set up by Tom Orsman who is a language teacher from Shinmaguni Language School who specialises in teaching Japanese to beginners all the way to advance learners.

This club was created for people in the Sussex area whom have an interest in Japan (and it’s okay if you don’t speak Japanese) and would like to go on fun meetings and trips with others that share a similar interest and are looking to make friends.

The Adventure begins

It started of with all of us waiting at Bus Stop H, where we all gathered and waited for the bus. We had about 8 minutes before it arrived at 11.08am in the Morning.

It was a good opportunity to introduce ourselves to one another as there were a lot of new attendees and of course catch up with some old friends that I made over a year ago and a from Japanese yoga classes that I had done previously.

The bus trip was fun as the Japan Club got the entire top floor which was good and the bus ride from Churchill Square to the Woodingdean Downs Hotel allowed us to chat with one another and discuss our interests with one another and learn where Japanese attendees to the Club were from and what they were studying and learn more about life in Japan.

Once we arrived at the Woodingdean Downs Hotel it was a case of crossing a busy road where we then followed a flat track to Ovingdean. On the journey we stopped to try Blackberries. I don’t think they were ripe yet.

We also spotted some rare butterflies which were endangered in the UK.

Once we arrived in Ovingdean we spotted a lot of red cars on a small road that had to be shared with Pedestrians like us too. It was also a case of spot the Japanese car as the first one we saw was a Mazda.

Shortly we arrived at a Church called St. Wulfran’s Church and stood in awe of a old yew tree.

Japan Club was here 🙂

St Wulfran’s Church is a interesting place as it was dedicated to the 7th-century French archbishop Wulfran of Sens, is an Anglican church in Ovingdean, a rural village now within the English city of Brighton and Hove. Parts of the structure date from the early 12th century, and the church is listed at Grade I, a designation used for buildings “of outstanding architectural or historic interest”. It had a interesting ceiling and before we left Tom signed the visitor book on behalf of Brighton Japan Club.

After exploring the grounds for a bit we headed out for a walk 1-2km uphill past a windmill with views of the sea and Brighton. This land was now protected and used for conservation whereas a few years ago it was a golf course. Glad to know its protected now.

A lovely group photo

After some photos at the windmill we walked down to explore the old village of Rottingdean stopping at the esteemed Kipling Gardens and visiting the art gallery.

Some of use went to the pub, others to the beach in Rottingdean for lunch and had interesting talks about a variety of things such as Seaweed and its uses and Gordon Ramsey.

Afterwards for some it was a nice walk back to Brighton along the undercliff.

Walking Like Heros back to Brighton

If you like the sound of this, why not join us a Brighton Japan Club for an adventure, there are a variety of different activities to join so feel free to choose anyone you want to attend. And if your interested in learning more about the language, why not contact Shimaguni Language School for more information on lessons.

Brighton Japan Club Adventure to Devil’s Dyke

Recently I attended a walk with the Brighton Japan Club to a wonderful place in the countryside called the Devils Dyke which is just outside of Brighton on the South Downs. I had a wonderful day out with this club and thought I would write about this particular adventure.

Firstly you may ask what is Brighton Japan Club?

Brighton Japan Club is a club set up by Tom Orsman who is a language teacher from Shimaguni Language School who specialises in teaching Japanese to beginners all the way to advanced learners.

This club was created for people in the Sussex area who have an interest in Japan (and it’s ok if you don’t speak Japanese) and would like to go on fun meetings and trips with others that share a similar interest and are looking to make friends.

Tell me more about Devils Dyke.

The View of Devils Dyke is Beautiful

Devils Dyke is a what I would describe has Brighton’s very own grand canyon, its a deep 100m/300ft valley based in the South Downs and continues to be a great tourist attraction and excellent place to walk.

The name is often associated with folklore with regards to the valley being the work of the devil, there is a legend that the devil was digging a trench to allow the sea to flood the many churches in the Weald of Sussex. Supposedly the Devil was disturbed and was unable to complete his task and fled living the trench unfinished

In recent years though around the Victorian era there had been a single track railway, a cable car and a steep grade railway had been present there however by now there is only concrete remains and some exposed rail tracks.

So what was the Day like?

The day started of with all the Japan Club members signed up for this walk meeting at Bus Stop E near Brighton station where we all promptly introduced ourselves and discussed whether we had been there before. For myself and Tom we had been there before.

Once the bus had arrived we seated ourselves for the journey there.
Often I quite enjoy the journey to our destination, it gives a good opportunity for you to chat to other members to see what their interest in Japan is and of course for Japanese members to learn about where they are from, what they are doing in the UK and learn more about Japanese culture.

Once we arrived there we explored the local area which has the Devils Dyke Pub but also so beautiful views with explanations of what we could see.

A Short trek to the Woods to Devils Dyke

Afterwards we took a trek through the woods till we came out on the side of a hill where we were exposed to a lot of plant life and butterflies.

We were joined by another member of Japan Club called Richard whom was a bit of a expert in traversing this land and so followed him and Tom across the hills and through some forest.

During this walk we continued to share stories with each other about, interests, languages the UK and Japan and even Lord of the Rings, we basically figured out we were the Fellowship has we even had the right number.

After a long walk we ended up in the valley and made a short walk where we rested around an area that looked like a campfire had been there.
This rest had been brief has we then made haste and walked to the end of Devils Dyke where we stopped for lunch and allowed us to have further discussions.

This is something that I think is uniquely wonderful to this club is that though we have language exchanges, it can also happen when your out and about. The fact there is varied activities organised by various members adds to the appeal and makes every outing fascinating and an adventure.

To my surprise we continued our adventure in the opposite direction from Devils Dyke to a little place called Fulking which was quite a fair walk away but it was worth it, especially for the scenery and for the pub that was waiting for us at the end. It was well worth the reward.

Bonding at the Pub

This was followed by more opportunities to bond again, though unfortunately after 2 hours of resting we had to make a move to catch the last bus back.

The trek back was tiring especially when most of it was uphill and when we reached the bus stop we all sat down for a rest as we arrived with ample time to spare. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Has a bonus some of us couldn’t resist one more trip to the pub.

If you like the sound of this, why not join us a Brighton Japan Club for an adventure, there are a variety of different activities to join so feel free to choose anyone you want to attend. And if your interested in learning more about the language, why not contact Shimaguni Language School for more information on lessons.


Brighton’s best cafes: The Lanes


The Lanes, not to be confused with the North Laine, is the historic heart of Brighton and a major attraction for visitors. It is also home to many of Brighton’s coffee shops, including a few Shimaguni favourites.

ザ・レーンズ(ノース レーンではないのでご注意を!)は、昔からブライトンの中心地であり、ブライトンを訪れる人にとって、とても魅力的な場所の一つです。


Do you know where the best cafe in Brighton is?

If you know, would you mind telling me?

Although it is difficult to decide which is the best, one thing is for sure that there are many popular cafes in The Lanes.
I will introduce some of my favourites here.



Marwood has a unique atmosphere, distinctive interior and is very popular with young people
The 2 floors of seating are very spacious.
My preferred cup of tea comes at a very reasonable £1:50 which makes me very happy. They also have Wifi.
火曜日から土曜日までは夜の11までやっています。 夜のお勉強にオススメできます。
From Tuesday-Saturdays, it is open until 11pm – great for late night study!

Cafe Coho


Cafe Coho is next to Marwood and also has 2 floors. Since 2010 the store is only in Brighton and is loved by the locals.
The food is good and the coffee is excellent. It has Wifi.

I have heard from a few Japan Club members that the cream teas here are absolutely delicious. Having said that, I have actually never eaten them. I would like to, but either the shop is full or my stomach is. A cosy little shop with excellent service.
You surely won’t need Wifi here
Warning: The store is currently closed for refurbishment.

That Little Tea Shop In the Lanes


This is a cosy, traditional tea shop. I love the traditional tea pot which they fill to the brim with tea. There are many varieties of cake and scone here.
You surely won’t have time to use Wifi here.

Two months in Japan

By Tom Orsman, Teacher at Shimaguni Language School, Brighton.

A couple of weeks ago, I returned from 2 months in Japan. I am using this blog to record my lasting impressions of the trip.

A Jizo, a protector of children and travelers – and a personal friend.

The number of tourists in Japan is at record-breaking levels.  Booking decent hotels is hard. Booking one in Kyoto during hanami season is next to impossible – especially if like me you only start hunting the night before. For a moment, I thought I had uncovered an absolute bargain hotel at just 5,000 for two nights. Then just  before clicking book, I noticed the price was in pounds not yen – I was a click from bankruptcy.  I ended up lodging at the cheap and central, コミカプ Comicapu (‘comic capsule’ –  basically a bunk bed in a library)  sleeping under a shelf of manga and surrounded by a dozen snoring tourists.

New encounters everyday. On a trip to one of the most densely-populated countries in the world it is hard to avoid people, and I promise you, on some days I really tried. But it was these surreal 一期一会 (ichigo-ichie) once in a lifetime meetings that made the trip so special. Some of the most interesting characters were naked when I talked to them – we were soaking in an 温泉(onsen) hot spring bath at the time.

Generally, baths and bars seem to be the easiest places to talk to people – perhaps humans need to be either drunk or naked before we can really relax. On this trip, I enjoyed reunions with old Brighton Japan Club members over beer and smoked radish in Nagoya, sitting at a sleek 日本酒 nihonshu bar in Hiroshima, and chewing yakitori at a 屋台 (yatai) stall in Ueno Park.

Forests and fresh air. The contrast between the city and countryside is incredible. Parts of Tokyo and Osaka are a swamp of advertising; the eardrums get no rest either from constant jingle-jangle tunes. The crowds around Dotonbori in Osaka are amazing but the best was the total isolation of the Kumano Kodo World Heritage trails further south, where we couldn’t see out of the wood for the trees, and all we could hear was the 鶯 (uguisu) bush warbler. I felt constantly reassured by the fact that I was never far from this Japan, one with far less people, many more trees and no programmed musical accompaniment.

Japanese food versus food in Japan.  Most of my time on tour is spent in traditional accommodation where the food (breakfast and dinner) is cooked fish, colourful pickles, miso soup and bowls and bowls of sticky white rice – what we think of as traditional Japanese food. This is served along with local delicacies like イタドリ(itadori) Japanese knotweed, 高野豆腐 (Koya-dofu) freeze-dried tofu, and potentially fatal raw slices of ふぐ (fugu) blowfish.

Nothing like beans on toast. Dinner on the Kumano Kodo Trail.

When not on tour, it is fun to discover the quirky alternatives. In Nagasaki I encountered トルコライス (Turkish rice), an international hodge-potch calorie-heavy combination of rice, spaghetti and deep-fried pork. In Kyoto, I tried 和ぱすた  (Wapasuta) a Japanese-style pasta – Range of surreal snacks メロンパン (meron pan) a sugar cooated melon-shaped bread, プレーンドッグ (purein doggu) a no frills hot dog, いちごサンド (ichigo sando) a crustless white bread sandwich packed with strawberry and cream.

Now, back in Brighton, I miss the forests, the hot baths and dicing with death at dinnertime but fortunately there are plenty of consolation about being home. I am now excited about the summer ahead with new Japanese language courses starting at Shimaguni in July and an exciting series of new events coming up at Japan Club.   I hope to see you at an event soon.




このMeet upグループでもFacebookでもたくさんのイベントが行われています。少人数のイベントでは仲良くなる機会が多く、大人数のイベントではたくさんの人と知り合える可能性が高いです。友達と参加するのも楽しいですが、新たな友人をつくりたいのであれば私は一人で参加することをおすすめします。一人でというのは勇気のいることですが、強制的にほかの人と話すことになるためより機会が増えます。友達と参加するとどうしてもずっと一緒に行動してしまい、イベントは楽しめるのですが新しい友人との出会いはあまりないのです。私の場合なのでもちろんすべての方に当てはまるわけではないのですが…





Japanese Food in Brighton

E-kagen An established, much-loved Japanese diner in the heart of the North Laine – near Shimaguni. Friendly staff and great service. No frills and reasonable prices. A real authentic experience.

Kantenya The only specialist Japanese food shop in Brighton. In a great location opposite the big Sainsbury’s and 2 minutes walk from Brighton station. Runs great seasonal promotions, bento style lunches and is full of friendly Japanese staff

Sushi Garden On the popular restaurant-road of Preston Street, Sushi Garden specialises in a variety of noodles, rice and sushi dishes. Not cheap but gets good reviews.

Pompoko In the centre of Brighton and a few minutes walk from the station, Pompoko is known for it’s inexpensive yet satisfying and tasty mix of many Japanese dishes. Although quite popular and can get very occupied at lunch time.

Oshio Located on Trafalgar Street (very close to Shimaguni school!) Newly opened restaurant specialising in Japanese and Korean cuisine. Great reviews.

Cafe An-An Ok, not actually in Brighton, in nearby Portslade, but must be mentioned for its fantastic wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets), popular events and excellent lunches. Irregular opening hours so please check before you go.

Oki-nami Most exclusive Japanese restaurant in Brighton – right opposite the Pavilion. Part wwned by local celebrity Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim. Great sushi and bar apparently.

Sushi Mania On Middle Street in the middle of the The Lanes. Large chain-style restaurant with big menu suitable for big groups.  Offers half-price deal promotions.

Shogun On Prince Albert Street, Shogun is a popular ramen shop in Brighton. Very authentic in style and taste. Limited menu but very tasty.

Murasaki The most elusive, ninja-like of all the Japanese restaurants in Brighton.  The restaurant lurks up on Dyke Road near Seven Dials and the takeaway is up from Western Road on Montpelier Place.

Moshimo Located in Bartholomew Square, Moshimo is one of Brighton’s most popular Japanese Restaurants. Known for it’s building aesthetic imitating a traditional Japanese room and it’s authenticity. Handmade sushi and various hot Japanese dishes are available here. Very tasty.

Yo! Sushi Located on Jubilee Street close to the library. Yo! Sushi is a popular sushi chain across Britain. Known for it’s interesting conveyor belt style of dining and cute coloured plates. A great place to go for a unique Japanese experience.