Category: Stories (page 1 of 4)

Visiting Home After Making Your Own

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

Bilbo Baggins

But what do you do when you go out your door to return home?

You have been There and Back again, but where is “There?” Adventure drew you away from your original home to a new one, and in “coming Back” you are now “going There.” In a sense you have become a tourist in your own town, a guest in your own home.

This was the strange affection I sensed as I returned home for the first time in 9 months.

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Jalen Cox – Ambassador & Interpreter Extraordinaire

Even though you may not expect it when first looking at him, Jalen Cox is prolific in Japanese. He recently began working in Maebashi as a translator and interpreter, and already he has helped connect the city with the rest of the world.

This week I joined Jalen to hear all about this work, and I found he had a lot to say about it. If you don’t speak Japanese, fret not. Jalen will be able to translate.

Come meet this week’s Gaijin, Ambassador Cox.

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Metal Music and Samurai Steel – How Metal appeals to Japanese audiences

Metal Concerts are electrifying regardless of where you find them. The crowd unites in an ecstatic throng of energy and movement, guided by the steady hand of the band.

All people are brought together in the cacophonous celebration, breaking down the boundaries between them all, if only for an hour.

Japanese metal is no different, and it is the focus of this week’s post. So don your studded leather jackets and enter the mosh pit.

It’s time to find Metal in Japan.

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Khanh Nguyen – Music and Adventure & How they keep life interesting

For Khanh Nguyen, music and adventure are the two greatest pleasures in life. In the week, he teaches music to elementary students, and on the weekends he is traveling. He has not spent a weekend at home in months.

I sat down with him to pick his brain about these two passions, and he has a lot of knowledge about them. Tune your instruments, and pack your bags.

It’s time for a musical adventure with Mr. Nguyen.

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First Chances at Final Farewells – Why a proper goodbye is a skill you need to have

Why are goodbyes are always so difficult?

For many people the answer is simple: a goodbye marks the definitive end of a time spent with someone. What once was is now no more, and before you part for the final time, you have this final chance to say what you want to say.

But it’s never enough time.

Hasta la vista, adieu, or sayonara, the meaning is the same across all languages as is the difficulty of saying the words. It never gets any easier, but learning how to part ways properly is one of the most important skills a person can develop.

You never get a second chance at a final farewell.

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Malcolm Harper – How to travel, teach, improve each day, and thrive all around the world

Last week I sat down in Maebashi, Gunma with Malcolm Harper, traveling teacher and bon vivant, to talk all about his travels, lifetime enthusiasm for Japanese, and the differences he has found between the American and Japanese school systems. His thought on these matters and more are articulate, steadfast, and impactful.

Mr. Harper’s class is now in session, so come sit down and get ready to learn!

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Taking Tea & Making Meaning – The Way Tea Ceremony Brings Us Together

This is the essence of Japanese Tea Ceremony

Incense burns. A single scroll resides in a modest alcove with a flower to compliment it. But for the whoosh of the bamboo whisk, the room is silent. A bowl is placed in front of you.

You pick up the bowl, turn it in your hand, take a sip of the tea, and pass it to the next person. As the matcha travels down your gullet, you taste the complexities of the fine tea powder. The person next to you experiences the same sensation in turn, and for a brief time you are connected.

You do not acknowledge the connection, but it is felt by each of you. In the silence of the room, in the presence of your host and one another, with the tea flowing through each of you, you have found a cause for union. The tea has brought you together, and together you will savor it before parting ways once again.

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Valerie Landers – Expatriate Princess

Valerie Landers is easily one of the most memorable people I have met in Japan.

As a six-foot, bold and outspoken African American woman with dreadlocks, she provides a stark contrast from the homogeneity of the Gunma countryside. And she always has something to say, be it nonsensical or heartfelt.

Last week, I traveled out to Tomioka, Gunma to sit down and pick her brain on what it means to be such an iconoclast. We discussed the sights of Gunma, life among other anglophones, being black in Japan, and how expectations work out (or don’t)

Come sit down and hear her what she has to say!

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