Tuesday, July 31

Leavers and Leaving

So, it’s almost a year to the day that I arrived in Japan, all full of hope and dreams and ambitions… actually my only ambition was to have fun and leave after a year, I’ve done the first one but I won’t be doing the second; there’s more fun to be had after all.

However, a lot of people who I’ve befriended and enjoyed spending time with have left or are in the process of leaving and returning to all manner of places all over the world.

It’s an odd feeling, saying goodbye, and not one I like to dwell upon. I mean theres no gurantee that I will never see these people again and that is heartening to some extent, but, they’re moving in so many different directions its hard to imagine that I will see all of them again someday… the world just isn’t that small.

Also, I’m sorry to see all of them go, there’s not one person leaving this year who I don’t have time for. First to leave was Jessica; a girl with so much spirit and fun inside of her that she was her own hangover cure, I’ve never seen her not smiling and not having fun or not giving something 100%. Jess came down to Saito quite often and was here for the 30km walk from Nishimera (which she won).

Gin and Tonic, Again, Please

Yesterday Tim left; Tim was one of the first people I met in Japan; we spent my first day in Japan together, which was also my 25th Birthday. Having Tim around was certainly a adequate substitute for my friends and he soon became a good friend too, although I didn’t make as much effort to visit him as I could have; something which I plan to rectify when I return to England in August.

Farr to Cool

Today Fiona is leaving; Fiona: smart, witty, quick as a whip, fun and beautiful. Again I didn’t spend that much time with Fiona but the time I spent with her was fantastic and I really appreciated it.


John also leaves today; John is another person I got on with straight away. We both share an interest in computer games, and cinema. John is moving to New Zealand for a new life with his new girlfriend Anna. Good luck John.


Later this week Alyson will leave too. Which is a shame because there are very few people as easy to get on with in the world, let alone in Miyazaki. She’s smiley and straightforward and generous with her time.

I’m liked the leavers all for different reasons; and where at first I was disappointed that I couldn’t find embodied in anyone person, what I had from people back home, now I realise that I got something different, not worse and I’m different as a result of meeting these people.

Standing in the Way of Control

Had my ass kicked (figuratively) by Kodama sensei who is the taiko master of our group. We had a practice on a Thursday, I had been attending extra practice because Saito Matsuri (summer festival) was approaching and frankly I needed to put in more effort. Kodama sensei turned up and because I was one of only 3 people there he could hear every mistake I made, and apparently I was making quite a few.

My main problem was that I couldn’t link the uma (horse) beat to another more elaborate beat and then back again. I don’t think that Kodama sensei could understand that I could do the uma beat alone, but not with another beat following it and not with him breathing down my neck and shouting at me. It was a hard lesson.

My next ass kicking was my first performance in months at a primary school in Saito. I lost my nerve and then I lost my concentration and I lost my way through a song. It was terrible and disheartening because I knew I knew the song better than that.

My next asswhooping was from a certain JET who does taiko too and likes to tell people what to do. She told me that she thought I should quit, and then told me that I shouldn’t perform at least, and then told me that I shouldn’t play at weddings. At first she was giving me this ‘advice’ off of her own back, then when I refused it the advice was due to something she had overheard, and when that wasn’t enough the advice was because someone asked her to say something.

So I asked, or at least someone asked on my behalf, and the answer from a senior member was that everyone starts off poorly, it was the effort I was making that was important… and I was really making an effort.

Not only did I have my nerves to contend with, beats that seemed impossible, and songs that were long and hard to remember; now I had this person who wanted me out of the taiko group as well, all the time Saito Matsuri was looming too.

Something had to change; my problem was confidence, it was lack of confidence that gave this person the idea that they could dictate and bully me out of playing taiko, it was lack of confidence that led to me making mistakes in performances and lack of confidence that held me back from learning.

Now? Now, I feel that I know maybe 80% of each song well, bar the most complicated one, and I feel that I’m close to learning the other 20%. It won’t happen immediately, but it will happen, and it would certainly not happen if I just give up.

And once I nail it, once I kick it’s ass, it will feel that much better for the beatings I’ve taken along the way.

Monday, July 30

Through the Keitai

Check these bad boys out... retro or what? I wanted these until I saw that heavy price tag. As Nike trainers go, these are some of the most handsome I've yet seen.

This was going to be a prize for the kids in my English Club, but both of them are pretty unlikable and neither of them make any effort to speak English. So I gave it to someone more deserving instead.
Filled with cream and utterly delicious... Milky omiyage. Yum!
The zen garden with its raked stones and island boulders. This picture was taken in Kyoto and then sent to someone in England at 4 am GMT... and they couldn't even see the pic, I don't think they were feeling too zen after I woke them up for nothing.

Came into my office one day and this piece of art was propped up against a wall. The artist is a friend of one of the teachers and she allowed me to take a picture of it.

Friday, July 20

Keeping a Diary is for Dieters and Serial Murderers!

I wrote this little bit of... um... satire (let me check my dictionary)... YES satire, just before some screwed up American went can killed a whole heap of his fellow students in a depressed gun spree, yes I know that doesn't narrow it down to any particular day.

Well this isn't a comment so much upon the state of America and that nations particular predilection to violence and more about the type of person who writes diaries. NOT BLOGS!! Oh no; diaries are a very different animal. Blogs are a digital voice to a real audience; diaries are like the voice in your own head addressing yourself like you're another person and telling yourself about what you did and thought, as if you're a mental ivilid who can not remember your own thoughts.

Keeping a diary sucks! I couldn’t take it seriously. It’s not in the least bit fun and it’s the past time of serial killers and suicide bombers. In this blog entry I’ve imagined myself into the role of a diary writer (a rather concise diary writer, if there is such a thing).


Dear Diary,

It’s spring, yay! It’s finally arrived, the winter of my discontent has melted away and the sun is shining in the heavenly blue sky. It’s fantastic, the birds are singing loudly and with such pride, the rice fields are almost ready to harvest and the Sakura blossom is here, golly gosh it’s wonderful.

Dear Diary,

Bad news! My supervisor, my protector and guardian in this strange and sometimes hostile world is being transferred to a place far yonder called Nobeoka… or as the locals call it No-one-Be-Ok-here.

I fear for his safety I really do, but more, I fear for my own. It’s selfish I know but what will I do without my supervisor. I feel that all is lost, woah betide, all is Lost!

Dear Diary

Just as the leaves of the Sakura tree fall quietly to the ground as winds disturb their rest, a wind of change charges through my soul and disturbs the very core of me, shaking me and almost ripping me out by my roots.

It seems that not only my supervisor is to leave but my neighbours too, Nagatomo the slight and happy cook and Horiken the quiet and timid collector of pornography are both moving away.

Spring seems to bring nothing but a reminder that all great things must come to an end.

Dear Diary

The day of the leaving ceremony, no doubt a few hours of pomp and self congratulations. I will have to keep a brave heart and hide the fractures of my war torn soul behind a fragile porcelain mask, and a painted smile.

Dear Diary

The leaving party was fantastic! The food, the drink, the conversation although limited. I felt great! I no longer fear for my safety heading into this new era, instead I look to the horizon with renewed vigour and a faith in my stamina that cannot be shaken.

I’ve said my goodbyes now; it’s time to let go of the past.

Dear Diary

Oh joy! Oh wonder and merriment! I got into the top 100 in my quest to spread the good gospel Lost.eu/303FC. This is reason to rejoice, this is reason to be happy, this is fantastic!

Dear Diary

We are inextricably bound to the future as we are unconquerably tethered to our past. Sometimes I long for the Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind… tonight I opted for Ace Ventura instead.

Dear Diary

I woke from a startling nightmare this morn. I was in a world where all hope was lost and we had all but fallen into shadow, it was a grave and hellish fate that twisted all of humanity into agonies no man should endure.

When I shook myself from this terror I put on Radio One and listened to some Arctic Monkeys. They were playing tracks from My Favourite Worst Nightmare, the irony wasn’t lost on me.

Dear Diary

My new colleagues have arrived and never have I seen more disagreeable representatives of the human race. Crooked and bent all of them, not to be trusted I’m sure! Something in my marrow tells me they will be the ruin of me and again my dreams turn to despair.

Dear Diary

I must stop this nonsense lest I go mad with paranoia! I must give myself to the moment and the moment now, is spring. The sun still shines in the real world and my dreams are only persistent behind closed eyelids. I hope that they are not prophetic and I’m sure in fact that they’re simply a product of my anxiety.

Dear Diary

I’ve decided to go out sight seeing and drinking and eating. It’s hanami season and I plan on going to Saitobaru to sit amongst the Sakura blossoms and relax. I won’t be making another entry until tomorrow, in the mean time I will miss you Diary, know that you’re always in my heart.

Dear Diary

Yesterday sucked the fleas off of mangy dog balls. Fucking hanami! I’ve seen the truth about my dreams now, and the truth about spring… it’s all about abandonment isn’t it Diary! Well they won’t leave me, oh no, those petals won’t fall, because the only wind of change is me… ME!

Wednesday, July 18

To arms good man

Smashing down gauntlets and picking up swords

To arms good man, to arms

And Godspeed the brave who faces his demons

To arms good man indeed
For he is a man of spirit and light
And his heart trembles less than his hand
For when he picks up his sword to strike
His heart knows for sure he’s a man

To arms good man, to arms

Strike deep and strike true
Tremble not and strike through
Face the monsters outside and within
Slash once and slash twice
Hit twice and hit thrice
And cast no stone where there’s no sin

To arms good man, to arms

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