So sorry for the lack of updates, dear readers. I wish I could’ve given you a play-by-play of my arduous journey to Tokyo (where I am now), but alas it’s been a whirlwind these past two days.
After a lot of packing, very little sleep, and actually not that much panic, I successfully boarded my flight to arrive in Tokyo at around 3 or 4pm local time on Sunday the 29th. This is for the initial orientation, which lasts until Wednesday.
Since then, I’ve gotten lost at the massive Shinjuku station, been to a rooftop DJ party at the Tokyo Intercontinental Bay, watched a katana demonstration by the guy who choreographed Kill Bill, and learned some non-zero amount about my duties and responsibilities as a JET participant. It’s been back-to-back workshops and lectures these past few days covering topics from our health insurance, to lesson plans, to special needs education.
On Wednesday, I’ll be making my way to my new home in Akashi in the Hyogo Prefecture. Until then, I get to worry about how I’m going to manage with only the cash in my wallet plus $14 in checking, and not having a freaking computer. Stay tuned!
I’ve made a huge mistake… with my blog! Googling Japanese stuff, in English, is not as easy as Googling American stuff in English, as anyone (except me) could guess.
I’ve given you wrong information, I’ve misled you all– I will NOT be living in, or even teaching in, the town of Harima. The school itself is still called Harima-Higashi High School, but it is in the town of Inami, which is north of the town called Harima, where Harima-Minami High School is. I hope you can see where the confusion came from, and forgive me. My fact-checking staff will be promptly dismissed and replaced come next month. Meanwhile, my apartment will be in the city of Akashi.
I’ll not go through the same schpiel that I did with Harima, not only because it seems disingenuous, but also because there is actually very little information I could find about my new town of Inami. All I can tell you is that it also has a small population, of 30,000. Take a page from the Harimans’* book, update your Wikipedia article, you crazy Inaminese*!
* I made up both of those just right now. Don’t call them this.
I know, I know– “where the HELL is that next blogpost? It’s the only reason I bother waking up in the morning anymore!” Me too, dear reader, me too. A small update; I have found out the exact address of my apartment, but until I have more information I will leave that for another post, where I’ll tell you everything I know about Japanese apartments (but not my address, sorry!).
In the meantime, let’s call this Man Behind the Myth: Part II, where I share with you one of my least lame hobbies: Polaroid photography.
This is the Polaroid SX-70, one of my most prized possessions. It is a SLR (single-lens reflex) camera with manual focus, with an electronic eye that can slow shutter speed to over 10 seconds.
One of its most unique features is that it freaking FOLDS, into a semi-portable 3-pound brick that’ll weigh down one side of my coat but look completely badass when I take it out. It was released in 1972, where rumor has it, Edwin Land, in a very Steve Jobs-ian flourish, had a special suit constructed with extra-large pockets in order to hold the thing, so that he was able to take it out of his jacket during a presentation and thus prove its portability to audience members.
The great thing about Polaroids is twofold: there is something very spontaneous/organic about it, and it makes everything look vintage-y, hiding my lack of actual photographic ability. And of course, you will always have the physical picture to hold. Sure, you can print out a digital picture, but it was not taken and printed in that very moment. And if you consider a digital printout (even if “instant”) the same as a Polaroid, then people like you will be rounded up and arrested when the day comes. I’m looking at you, Instax Square.
This is one camera of several that I own, the other three being a Polaroid 660, Polaroid SX-70 box-type (sometimes called the Land 1000), and though not a Polaroid, but still in instant format, a Fujifilm Instax mini90.
The hobby comes at a high cost, working out to a whopping $3 per picture. It can even creep up to $4, as the SX-70 has no built in flash, so you have to buy disposable, one-time use exploding flashbulbs that cost $1 per flash. You could also buy an electronic re-usable one for $100. The reason for this is that the real Polaroid company went bankrupt in 2004. Another company took their place, but apparently lost all the chemical formulas to make the film, so their profits are basically funding R&D into figuring out how to make actual, authentic Polaroid film that works as it should (it still doesn’t quite; for example it still takes about 20 minutes to develop).
But the price of beauty is worth it, because everyone and everything looks great within those white borders. Of course, you can get lots of duds too. I’ve thrown away more pictures than I can count, but sometimes imperfections can make the image all the more interesting– in the below picture, there’s a weird strip of light in the middle, and what looks like a chemical spill from improper development along the bottom. All in all, it’s an expensive, frustrating hobby, but being able to hold some of my best works in my hand, knowing that that particular moment is frozen in time, that its existence and the capture of it are intertwined, makes it all worth it.
You now know my exact location on Earth, down to the building. But maybe you don’t know who I even am, or why you should care. I can’t truly answer the second question for you, but the first question should be pretty easy, so here goes: my name is Patrick. I’m 24 years old (turning 25 this September), and I have no idea what I want to do with my life. In my quest to figure this out, I studied psychology and film at UCLA, and I have been working in the entertainment industry for a little over two years now. I applied to the JET program partially on a whim, and like most other things in life, I never thought I’d get this far. Either way, I’ve decided to seize this incredible opportunity, to fulfill a lifelong dream as well as escaping responsibility for at least another year.
I’ve been fascinated with Japan ever since I was a kid, when my family and I would fly to Thailand every year to visit family. We almost always had a short layover at KIX, Kansai International Airport in Osaka. We never spent more than a few hours there; my memories of the airport itself were really just walking through it to change flights. We never had a meal there or even stopped by a shop, but something about it appealed to me, deep down to my very core. Even the air felt different, I swear! When we landed, the very first thing I’d do was look out the window, entranced by the men working on the runway in their jumpsuits and hardhats. It was very exotic, it was very foreign, and mundane as it may’ve been, there was something very attractive about it to me. The idea “I want to visit this place one day” was planted firmly in my mind, and it wouldn’t be until 2014 that I finally got to fulfill that wish.
I went to Osaka University in the summer of 2014, where I studied Japanese. I had the absolute time of my life. Japan lived up to everything I thought it would’ve been, and more– a beautiful country with such rich history and culture, and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Food was great, fashion was great, everything was great! I could write pages more about how it felt, but this is a blog for entertainment (at least I like to think so), not a public diary. That’s also where I met the woman who would eventually become my girlfriend, the lovely Rika M—. I’ve been back several times since then, and to fast forward four years… here we go again!