April marks the start of the new fiscal year in Japan, as well as the new school year. The graduation ceremony in March and the Entrance ceremony ushers out your former students and brings in a new class and a new course load. It's also a time for a number of goodbye and welcome parties. For me, the beginning of April has marked the countdown of the last 4 months I will spend on the JET Program working at my school. I'm ready to move on to bigger and better things, yet I feel reluctant to leave my life here. This year has been the best I've experienced in Japan. I've been able to deepen my relationships with people here, and I've felt more focused than ever in terms of finding myself, my mission in life (sounds grandiose, but I believe I've been searching for this for quite some time), and my artistic voice.
Graduation ceremony: out with the old
Not the best selfie (on the way to my last JET welcome party)
It's impossible for me to ignore the fact that I rarely update this blog anymore, yet I am always thinking to myself, "you really ought to write something here again." I don't know what's wrong with me, but blogging no longer feels that exciting anymore. As I said in previous posts, I've been focusing on a number of other projects, most of them writing based, and one of them job-hunting based.
Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the massive 9.0 earthquake that struck off the coast of Tohoku, Japan in 2011. Something about today has really hit me harder than it did the previous years at this time. I think I feel a certain connection now to that region since I spent some time last May volunteering there. Maybe it's also because I have written a number of poems that poured out of me afterwards. It's hard to tell why this year has left a stronger impression than the prior years. I suppose some memories strengthen in time, instead of fading away.
About two weeks ago, I went on a whirlwind 5 day trip with an itinerary that took me from Osaka to Yokohama to Kyoto and back to Osaka. There's so much to tell you about this wonderful, necessary trip to Honshu, but I haven't been able to catch my breath since my return. Instead, I've been busy putting this together, as well as working on the treatment and scripts for my first web series (complete with an actor here whom I happen to know). We'll see if that actually greenlights into something more than just a wish.
I've been thinking about many things recently, not least the small mini-film series project I've been working diligently, albeit slowly on. Because I've decided that I won't be on JET as of the end of July, I've been carefully (read: skillfully (one hopes)) putting together my job-hunting profiles and materials (with the help of my friend T.), resharpening the job-hunting knives, and getting ready to go into full employment seeking battle. So I hope you can forgive me if I've seemed rather lackadaisical with my blog recently, especially after the New Year's fanfare. Secretly, I've been writing numerous blog posts in my head, but haven't felt ready to put pen to paper, or keyboard to blog, I suppose.
The title is rather lofty isn't it? I know I ended yesterday's blog post with a hint that the next post will come in a week, but I found myself this evening reading an incredibly insightful article about the significance of Japan's post-3/11 trajectory, the 2020 Olympics, Tohoku, and Donald Keene's brilliant analysis. Normally, I would just post a link on my Facebook wall, but I'm taking an extended break from FB. So, instead I'll post it here. I wish more people were talking about this openly, and not just Americans or the American media, which has its own hypocritical role in what's currently happening in Japan. There's so much to say a bout Keene's memory of WWII and his warning about what's happening to Japan's Constitution.
By the way, most people outside of the world of Japan and East Asian scholars and historians (and maybe psychologists) rarely study the concept of Japan's collective memory, or collective memory in general. But it's important to recognize how we all simultaneously forget and remember the past in slippery ways. Japan is often accused of attempting to re-write its horrific imperialist history (which a faction of Japanese society would like to do), but it has also written and acknowledged its atrocities. It just depends on which side of the sociopolitical spectrum you fall on whether you view collective history one way or another. This isn't just a Japanese phenomenon either, but this culture attempts to maintain harmony to such a degree that having healthy debates and arguments about these things in public just doesn't happen. A good book on the topic of Japan's modern history (starting just prior to WWII to its current state) is John W. Dower's book of essays, "Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering: Japan in the Modern World." I highly recommend it. There's so much to say on this topic, especially in light of Abe's regime and the current political zeitgeist. I've been thinking about it often because everyday I go to work and interact with Japan's future generation. Why should the political leaders, who are mostly in their 50's and 60's, get to make decisions about how the youth get to live their lives? Didn't these same individuals get to live through a relatively peaceful and prosperous era during their own youth? I recognize that it's much more complicated than this simple reasoning, that there is so much lying underneath the surface of this culture, and that maybe we still do not really understand Japan's trajectory, its past, its present, or its future.
Hello everyone! I returned to Japan on the 13th, but I haven't updated yet because I was recovering last week from jet lag. I'm finally feeling much better and less muddled and wanted to update quickly. I promised something new and I plan to fulfill my promise very soon. Next week is the Nago 桜祭り and since I've yet to go (even though I've lived in Okinawa 3.5 years), I planned to make the beautiful Okinawan cherry blossoms and their festival part of the debut of a new element to this blog. So please check in with me sometime next week. Hopefully I'll have a few awesome things up here for you to view.