Meanwhile in England

Hi everyone. For the first time since my first post in June, I’m writing to you beneath the darkening skies of Hertfordshire. It’s been great to catch up with people, and while St. Albans hasn’t changed too much, it’s also been cool to re-engage with the homeland and absorb the atmospherics of British wintertime. The pubs and the food have been ace, too.

The best laid plans being ever doomed to fail, I spent the last week of my autumn term in bed, sick, with a suddenly and mysteriously broken laptop. As a result, I never wrote my final planned post, and it’s been a while since I’ve posted an update.

Anyway, I don’t want to keep you long today- this is a quick update to say Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and explain where we go from here.

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Blog to the Future

So far, the blog has mostly been read by my friends and family. I really appreciate all of you who take the time to read, but I’d also like to have a bit of a wider reach. So I’ll be working on ways to get the message out, and to write with an audience who doesn’t know me personally in mind, as well. If you enjoy reading, it’d be great if you could share with anyone in your circle who has an interest in Japan or travelling.

I’ll still plan to post something every week, but I may post something short and sweet while working on more in-depth researched pieces: interviews, reviews and the like. Please get in touch if there’s some aspect of Japanese life or my experience you’re interested to learn more about. I can’t promise to incorporate all ideas, but I’ll do my best.

Into 2019

Among my new year’s resolutions for 2019 are a promise to double my efforts to learn Japanese, and take up one ‘traditional art’ like calligraphy or pottery. I’ll be writing about my efforts to learn the language, and about the odd status of religion in Japan.

I don’t have a lot of future plans right now, but I should be off to Tokyo sometime in April, to catch up with an old friend and witness the world’s biggest city for the first time. I’m also going to visit Shimane Prefecture to the north, to see the ancient roots of Japanese culture in Izumo, and investigate a medieval silver mine. At some point, I’m also hoping to climb a mountain*, catch a baseball game, take part in a tea ceremony, and finally locate the Hiroshima music scene, if it draws breath still. We’ll see what happens.

Peace out, and have a good New Year. I’ll leave you with some moody snapshots of home.


La Daijoubu Vita

IMG_1685I’m writing this on the last day of September. Last night, there was a definite chill in the air, and this morning, a typhoon was howling in from the south. Unlike earlier in the summer, the winds have really picked up here in Hiroshima. Late in the afternoon, the sky turned the strangest colour. But the rain just stopped, and for a moment a rainbow poked through the clouds.

It’s been three months since I took my first tentative steps into Japan, through the sultry fug of the Osaka summer. Tomorrow, school is changing over to the Autumn textbooks, and it felt like a good time to stop and take stock.

Continue reading “La Daijoubu Vita”

Somewhere Close To The Door

To lift an opener from Che Guevara’s diary: this is the history of a failure. Not a failure of an effort, or a moral failure, but the failure of a theory to explain the world as it is. These are the kind of failures that drive scientific discovery, and self-discovery too.

Continue reading “Somewhere Close To The Door”

O Taichou! Watashi no Taichou!

September arrived in style today, with a cool breeze, insistent rain, and clouds cuddling the mountains. I like the sharp-drawn demarcation between seasons, and to be honest after two months of Hiroshima summer I’m ready for autumn. Just don’t call it ‘fall’ like half my students do.

Contemporary Art Museum in the rain.JPG

Continue reading “O Taichou! Watashi no Taichou!”

It Begins.

I’ve always been firmly of the opinion that too many people blog, for a weird and specific reason- namely, I’m a bit of a history geek. Historians often gripe about the lack of artefacts or sources for much of our under-recorded history, but I often think modern historians are the lucky ones. The social historian of the future will have so much documentation and debris to parse through that they will be hopelessly lost in it all, adrift in a boundless sea of magazines and opinion columns and tweets and memes and Youtube lifestyle guru channels… and blogs. All narratives will be possible. Getting a coherent sense of what people were like in 2018 will be damn near futile.

Having said that, I’m going to Japan and I really am quite excited about it. So on the off-chance that I do become famous in the future and these words are pored over by some bored biographer on a tight deadline, I’m sorry.

Anyway, this is going to be my report of Japan as I find it. It will mostly comprise the usual observations of daily life, work, travel and food, but I will probably post the odd piece of poetry and creative writing. I don’t have too much more to say right now, but these are a few ground rules:

  1. I will write at least something weekly, except in exceptional circumstances, even if the length of articles ebbs and flows.
  2. I will try and publish on a Sunday night, if this proves practical, so you’ve got something to read with bleary eyes over your Monday morning cornflakes.
  3. I will try to remember that for every thing I think is weird as hell about Japanese culture, there is an equally weird aspect of life in England, and will avoid Orientalism as much as I can.
  4. I will not post about every single delicious food I eat, tempting though it is.
  5. I will be honest about the ups and downs of my time in Japan.

Nothing much else to say at this point. Catch you all on Sunday, if Wi-fi permits.

Peace and Love,

‘I obviously didn’t say this and I don’t understand why anybody would pretend that I did.’ — Bret Easton Ellis