Non-management: Long time, no hear? Well, this hiatus in blogging hasn’t been as long as others I’ve taken. Some of you still might be curious about when I’ll get back to writing. I’m curious myself about when I’m going to have the time and drive to get back to writing. My hope is that I’ll be able to do so pretty shortly now that I’ve settled my Japan situation.
Right. I’m living in Japan now.
I’m situated now in Naruto City, in Tokushima Prefecture. I can confirm, first hand, that there isn’t really that much of an otaku presence in Naruto. On the other hand, less than an hour’s drive from where I live is Tokushima City, which does have a reputation for anime, manga, and games. For the brief times that I’ve been there, I’ve seen a lot of otaku franchise tie-ins with the local cultural festivities (i.e. Awa Odori). The Fate franchise especially has a big marketing presence — with the tall and touristy Mt. Bizan overlooking the city’s below being home to a limited-time cafe hosted by Ufotable. Ufotable was founded in Tokushima Prefecture, and sponsors Tokushima City’s Machi Asobi cosplay event. Machi Asobi is appaently the cosplay gatherings that you get at anime conventions without the actual anime convention.
Unlike the more otaku-friendly and far more urban sprawl of Tokushima City, Naruto City is comparatively more rural. It has city sights and amenities, plus green mountains and rice fields. I live in a neighborhood surrounded with farms of rice stalks, lotus roots, sweet potatoes, and juicy pears. If you can get over the size of the cicadas and take precautions against the aggressiveness of the mosquitos, my neck of Naruto is quite beautiful to walk through. It’s also being close enough to train stations, convenience stores, supermarkets, and 100-yen shops that I want not for comforts modern. My local convenience store, also stocks a pretty nice collection of anime merchandise for some reason. It’s only that convenience store, over all others in the area, that stocks Re: Zero figures, so I’m planning on starting a new collection of chibi Rems.
I’m in Japan, I’m doing fine. I’ve been assigned to teach a few schools as part of the JET Program. My colleagues have been pretty friendly despite the language barriers that I’ve been running into. The majority of the student that I’ve met so far have been great, and my interests in anime haven’t really impeded my relationships with everyone. Hell, during a gym assembly, the principal at one of my schools outright stated in the microphone that I liked anime. Anime tends to build bridges instead of burn them with school kids here, fortunately, though I’ve still been careful to mention those shows and movies with unambiguously wholesome messages when asked what anime I like. Most anime that I like have interesting themes to them, but not all of them are appropriate for certain age groups. I think answering Great Teacher Onizuka (GTO) kind of pushes it. I have gotten my supervisors to watch A Silent Voice though, so that’s pretty alright.
It feels a little unreal, and it also doesn’t. I feel quite comfortable now in my tatami-filled apartment, though I’ve yet to get into the consistent habit of turning my water heater and air conditioner off when I’m out an about. I’ve been making it a habit to do daily walks in the evening, and still quite gorgeous vistas of small town Japan and Japanese nature are feeling ever more familiar to me. Anything to do with the Japanese language throws me back into discomfort though. Talking with teachers who know very little Japanese about what to do about lessons is frustrating. Talking with people in general here is quite frustrating too, especially if they’re people you come across and done goofed in front of on a fairly frequent basis: the convenience store clerks, the supermarket cashiers, the bank tellers etc. I’m steadily learning the vocabulary and grammar, but the actual listening and speaking of the language has me for a loop. The actual process of trying to talk with someone in Japanese turns me into a deer staring into approaching headlights. These experiences leave me in a daze, and then very embarrassed.
My hope is to return back to writing fairly soon, but I need to balance that writing out with other priorities: teaching responsibilities, Japanese studies, and my fervent desire to take advantage of the fact that I live surrounded by all this nature and culture. My challenge is to balance these priorities while also maintaining a real and online social life. It’s a challenge that I’ve yet to work an efficient strategy for.