Wednesday, July 31, 2013


As I write this, I am sitting on an airplane bound for the US. I still find it difficult to believe that three years have gone by already. I still remember how happy I was to discover that I had been accepted to the JET Program three years ago. It
was one of my dreams since I was a kid, to one day live in Japan. I knew that I wanted to live there for a few years, to see what life was like in the Land of the Rising Sun, and to have new experiences while developing my foreign language ability.

I hadn't expected such an incredible experience. I had no idea that kids would have such an impact on me, or that my outlook on life, love, and dreams would be affected. I knew I would make friends, but I didn't expect that I would develop such strong new friendships.

I am incredibly grateful.

Looking back at my experiences, I wish I could chronicle the entirety of it. But there were far too many things that happened, too many fun parties, too many laughs, too many meals, too many sights, too many pictures, too many peace signs, too many games, too many drinks, too many lessons, too many experiences to sum up with what limited time I had.

I admit that I wasn't as good about updating this blog as I wanted to. Ideally, I should have updated it every week, perhaps every Sunday night or something, to summarize the weekly adventures. But too often, I would arrive home too late or with too little energy to sit and write about what happened over the weekend. But I did what I could! And I'm happy that I was able to share some of my experiences with you via these simple words and my amateur photographs.

I realize that the last blog post I made was in the beginning of the month. I had written about a third of another post last week, but I was busy packing, canceling accounts, paying bills, shipping things home, and selling my car to make appropriate updates. Actually, though, if it counts, I created a separate blog (buymygtfour) on which I made a small handful of posts. Feel free to check out how that went.

As I've done in the past, I intend to finish and publish the post that I had started last week, at a later date, to explain what had happened up to that point. Though due to the nature of Blogger, I don't know if it'll show up as being dated for when I first started it or for when I publish it. I'm guessing published, but we'll see.

That past three weeks really were a blur. One weekend was spent at Oshima for the Leaver's Party. Fun times, good eats, and good music. Unfortunately, the turnout wasn't as big as last year, and it was almost a sausage party (haha). A lot of people who came this year won't be there next year, as many of us have concluded our contracts. But it's okay; life goes on, and we need parties at other venues.

After the Leaver's Party, the annual MAJET Art Show was brought back the following weekend! It had been absent for two years due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster two years ago. But I'm happy to say that I helped contribute to its return, both as an event-planning board member, and as a contributor to the show.

I hosted a Martial Arts workshop featuring Kenpo Karate, Filipino Escrima, and Board Breaking. There were a group of 32 American high school students/graduates who were visiting Japan at the time doing tours and staying with host families. 

The students came to the art show just in time for me to start my workshop.  And 10 students were interested enough to join the workshop! Some of them were already martial artists, and others just wanted to experience something new.

What an incredible workshop. I started things off with a brief rundown of the various martial arts styles that I had studied then had the students do stretches. One martial arts girl was really impressing people with her stretching ability and martial arts techniques. I had the students do basic strikes and kicks, with the knowledge that they would be using those techniques to break Japanese cedar boards later. Next, I taught them some basic Escrima strikes, drills, and disarms. Then came the breaking.

For some of the students, it was their first time. I explained to them about breathing, aiming behind the target, and executing proper technique. For others, they were well versed in martial arts and wanted to try out some fancy moves. The first guy started the show with a bang, using a kick, to which the crowd responded with a burst of applause. The martial arts girl earlier did a palm heel strike, and one guy did a fancy spinning hook kick. The girl holding the board for him must have been pretty scared, as she couldn't hold the board properly the first three times he attempted the kick. But when he finally did it, the crowd went wild.

I was pleased with the art show, despite a relatively low turnout on Saturday. Hopefully next year, they make it event bigger!

The weekend after that was spent cleaning, chillin', and gaming with my buddies on PSN, playing that insane Borderlands 2 game. Really wanna check the first one out, though I hear its story and gameplay were still pretty rough.

Last Monday, I tried playing a bit of Uncharted. It's fun but the jet ski part is headache inducing. I actually had to sleep early that night and had to cancel plans to see the new Ghibli movie. Dammit, Nathan Drake.

My last weekend in Japan was quite incredible. The whole week had been spent packing and preparing the transfer of my car to a new owner. I had set up an auction for my car to allow potential buyers to place bids to purchase it. The good and bad thing about used cars in Japan is that they sell for much cheaper than in the US. I paid a Japanese high price for my car, but relatively good deal if it was the US. Unfortunately, when I sold it, no one was willing to pay even half of what I paid for. But such is life. 

Anyway, four friends of mine showed genuine interest in purchasing it, though they had their own price limitations. In the end, the guy who won the auction had to back out due to unforeseen occupational circumstances (don't worry, he wasn't fired), so the car went to the second-highest bidder.

The winner of the car is a Filipino guy from Canada who lives on Mount Haruna. You know, the same mountain (called Akina) that is featured in Initial D, the car anime/manga/game that I love so much. Could it be fate?! Anyway, so I drove 4 hours from Miyagi to Gunma Prefecture, and met up with another buddy of mine, a mutual friend of the buyer. And we had a great time driving up and down "Mt, Akina." Pictures and video coming!

The remainder of the week was spent packing and cleaning. Hope the new guy likes the place and does a great job at work! I should go and visit sometime. 

By the way, I have since arrived back in the US. What an incredible experience. The Japan adventures will take a pause for now; but they certainly aren't over.

And neither is my blogging! More stories to come!

Word of the day: ただいま! Tadaima! I'm home!

Friday, July 5, 2013


I started this draft on June 30, but I'm writing it write now on July 5th, which is July 4th in the US! So, Happy Independence Day!

June was a packed month, as you have read in earlier posts. Like, check out this barbecue we had the other day. Friggin' fantastic.

Doesn't that look so delicious?

July will be even more packed.

In the first week, I've been preparing for the move back home. Things I need to do:

- Pack stuff
- Ship stuff
- Sell stuff
- Pack/ship my sword (this might be a bigger obstacle than just winter clothes)
- Sell my car
- Prepare for the martial arts workshop that I'll hold for the Miyagi Art & Talent Show
- Write "goodbye speeches" for my schools and going-away parties
- Go to Leaver's Party at Oshima Island this weekend
- Buy a bunch of chocolate for Mom
- Juggle those responsibilities with work and social life
- Enjoy the last of my days in Japan

I have a bunch of video games. Brother suggested that I ship them back, but I'm afraid something might happen to them on the way. So he suggested that I get a CD binder and put all the discs in there while I ship the game boxes. That way, if I lose the boxes, I at least still have the games. Suddenly, I wish I had all of that data in "The Cloud." Thankful for PSN. I'll do as he suggested, and carry the CD binder with me as carry-on. Or, I could pack it in my suitcase. Either way, they're comin' with me!

The martial arts workshop next weekend is something that I'm pretty excited about. We're still working out the schedule, but I intend to have some Kenpo Karate, board breaking, and Filipino Escrima in there. Unfortunately, the small budget won't allow for real escrima sticks made out of rattan, but I will try to make some out of bamboo poles. The hard part will be deciding exactly what things to go over. If I only have 45 minutes, that's 15 minutes for each section. Perhaps martial arts basics, self defense, escrima drills, disarms, then board breaking. Maybe a brief introduction of history or personal background.

2 meter bamboo pole for $0.68!
At some point, I'm actually considering writing a full-fledged book (or blog) that comprises all of my martial knowledge. Then add to it as I gain more experience. You might have seen a short film that I helped an aspiring filmmaker with back in the day. Since it was for a class project, the director experimented with various filming and editing styles. I wish we could re-create the film, as she and I have both grown a lot since then, and I think a new project would better reflect our experiences.

Last year, I helped out on the English translation for a soy sauce spray bottle product. And here it is!

Just spray it on your food. Yum!
Anyway, first thing's first. Gotta write up something for my car!

Word of the Day: 研修会 「けんしゅうかい」 "kenshuukai" or "training workshop."