I woke up this Christmas Eve with a new anticipation. Instead of performing the traditional caroling and cookie decorating with my family, back in America, I would be traveling to Matsuyama Castle as a Samurai.
By Tim van Gardingen
On an empty train station platform in rural Japan, there is a poster pasted on the wall with a message in imposing red letters: “Stop Karoshi!” Karoshi is a phrase meaning ‘death by overworking’, and the concept has become so normalised that it has entered the Japanese lexicon. The phenomenon, despite efforts to counter it, appears set to stay.
At first glance, the Japanese government appears to be working hard to battle the nation’s unhealthy working hours, but its current approach is at best superficial and at worst a purposeful avoidance of the problem.
By Niall Magee
Last December I went to VR Zone Shinjuku, a virtual reality park in Tokyo, for the second time. It opened in July 2017 and will be closing in March of this year, but another location, VR Zone Osaka, opened last year on floors 8 and 9 of the Umeda HEP Five building. These theme parks are a part of “VR ZONE Project i Can” which is an initiative headed by game/toy company Bandai Namco to popularize virtual reality. It all started with a pop-up VR park that ran from April to October 2016 in Tokyo’s Odaiba district, near the famous giant Gundam statue.
By Tim van Gardingen
What’s in a name? Or, in the case of Japan, what on earth is the name in the first place? I found out the hard way just how tricky a Japanese name can be.
Names are important. Abraham Lincoln is reported to have never forgotten a person’s name, even of those who he only ever met once. I assume the reporters meant twice, as with those he met only once, there’s no way to tell. I can tell two things for certain from this: Lincoln understood the power of names, and Lincoln never had to learn the names of Japanese school children.
By Jennifer Cerna
“Take a chance, you stupid hoe. 怖がってるんじゃねえ。” –Gwen Stefani
February started off on a positive note. Work was going fine and I no longer felt on the brink of losing anything. I felt extremely busy, and found myself working overtime. One Tuesday, my manager sent me home early for that reason and my week seemed to slow down immediately. I finished my transcription assignments for my other job and got some things done for several police departments.
By Lucas Buechler
I am terrible at vacationing. When I go on a trip, I have neither an itinerary nor the desire to construct one. I am the type of person that would be perfectly happy to sit in a cafe or on a nearby beach, or even just in the hotel room where I’m staying. So how is it that I managed to go on a four day, timetable packed down to the minute, snowballs to the walls trip to Hokkaido for the Yuki-Matsuri? The same strategy I usually follow when traveling; I went with a friend who is semi obsessed with getting the most out of their vacation. The following is a story of pitfalls and highlights that I’ve assembled from some notes that I took during my time outside of Shikokuchuo. I hope you’re enticed by the highlights, and that you’ll learn from (or at least get a laugh out of) the mistakes we made during our time in the far north of Japan.
By Jennifer Cerna
“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been.” –Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Though each day passed in seeming monotony, I can’t say that they hadn’t each injected some influence into my path. One overcast day while riding in the passenger seat in one of my parents’ cars, I suddenly realized that I needed to take responsibility for my life. My life is the way it is because of all of the decisions I have made. Even if I were not the one calling the shots, I was responsible for the ways I reacted to the things that happened. Instead of feeling like a victim of my circumstances, I realized that I needed to take responsibility for those circumstances I found myself in. I resolved to take it upon myself to improve what I could. This changed the way I viewed things and altered the course I was on.
The following is a brief guide to the assorted stars, planets and other things that can be seen in the skies above Ehime during the coming month. It will also provide some basic advice on how to see them. Almost all can be spotted without any equipment or expertise whatsoever. All you need is a cloudless night. Many events will be observable on multiple nights while some are more brief – you’ll have to rely on the benevolence of the weather for the latter!
If you’re interested in a guided tour of the night sky, albeit in Japanese, consider taking a trip to Ishizuchi this month. See the Mt. Ishizuchi website for more: Ishizuchi Star Night Tour.
By Michael Haverty
On Saturday, February 3rd, Stonewall Shikoku held an ice skating event in Ehime’s very own Matsuyama. Stonewall Shikoku is the Shikoku branch of the national Stonewall group, a place for LGBTQIA+ people to interact with each other while in Japan to share their experiences, help each other with queer-specific problems, and make connections with other people within the community. Stonewall Shikoku is currently headed by CIR Micah Rabinowitz who is based in Kochi prefecture. Some of his duties include putting out a regular newsletter about regional and national LGBTQIA+ related issues and organizing island-wide events for people across the region to meet up. One such event was a camping trip held at the end of summer last year. Continue reading
By Jennifer Cerna
One of the main reasons why I went to Japan was because I wanted to find myself. I grew up jumping from place to place, but when it came time for my identity to solidify during my adolescent years, I found myself in Kansas. Suffice to say, I didn’t know anybody other than my sister who shared my heritage. I didn’t know what it meant to be Japanese or Mexican. I definitely didn’t know what it meant to be both of those while also being an American. I had a long, drawn-out identity crisis when I was in university. So I thought that I might be able to find some answers in Japan. Long story short, I realized that identity is something that we create for ourselves, rather than something we find. It’s a constant process of reshaping and tweaking.