Thursday, July 29, 2004

Marriage Across Cultures

This week I witnessed an event in which I had a personal, vested interest: the international marriage of a Western man and a Japanese woman. Not only is Peter Doebler my close friend from college days in Philadelphia, in marrying Yoshie he has also become my predecessor in a great adventure that, Lord willing, I will be embarking on together with Yuko next June. As is usually the case with international marriages involving a Japanese woman, Yoshie is the one who serves as a bridge between the two cultures. She is the one who has spent many years accustoming herself to a foreign culture and becoming fluent in a second language, in this case (as in most), English. Yoshie’s father, brother and sister arrived on Wednesday, and it was quite educational to observe Peter’s all-American family and Yoshie’s non-English speaking family acclimating themselves to one another.

The wedding was in his hometown Anacortes, Washington, near San Juan Island. For me this made for a very lovely weeklong pre-departure vacation. I was able to get together with my old college days “Group of Four.” The first time, in fact, that we have all gotten together since Rob’s wedding in Naples, NY. I guess the next time will be at my wedding next June in Sapporo. Among other things we took in the coastal views, watched Ichiro play for the Mariners, roamed Pike’s Place in Seattle, and took a long drive in the North Cascades.

Peter and Yoshie pose for excited photograpers after their wedding. Posted by Hello

So you grew up here, Peter?! Typical scenery in the vicinity of Anacortes, Washington. Posted by Hello

I LOVE treeeeeeeeeeeeees! And San Juan Island has some pretty big ones! Tree climbing is what made me the cut young high schooler that I was, and I'm counting on it to bring me back into form when I begin my life in Kazamaura. Posted by Hello

Yoshie's folks wanted to see Ichiro play for the Seattle Mariners, so we took the opportunity to enjoy an all American experience--including the indispensable $5 hotdogs! There were several innebriated pretty boys a few rows down swooning and chanting "Ichiro, ikimashou! Ichiro, ikimashou!" Hmmm, the pitfalls of literal translations out of a dictionary. Posted by Hello

Apparently Ichiro doesn't shower with his gaijin colleagues. This is him making his after-game getaway in his Infinity. He waved back to us, but unfortunately Shingo's cheap camera couldn't pick that up through the smoked glass (just kidding shingo! You have a nice camera). Posted by Hello

Rob and Shingo take a time out from giving me grief for being a non-drinker (yes, that's a coke I have there). We spent our last night pubcrawling in Seattle. Posted by Hello

Monday, July 19, 2004

More Goodbyes in Toronto

Grace Toronto Japanese Church (where's Gaijin?) Posted by Hello

The Murai Family Posted by Hello
Pastor Murai and his wife and family have been a source of great encouragement to me during my last two years in Toronto. There situation is virtually the mirror image of my own family. My family moved to Japan to serve local churches there when I was a toddler and my next down sister was an infant. The Murai's came to North America to serve expatriate Japanese congregations when their oldest son Toru was a toddler and their next down daughter Shizuka was an infant. Both families subsequently added three children to their number. It is a significant point of difference between the two nations that the Murai's three youngest received Canadian citizenship and completely integrated into Canadian society, whereas my own three youngest sisters are not eligible for citizenship (or even special consideration) in the land of their birth, and are faced with the choice of remaining in Japan as foreigners or attempting to start a new life in Canada where they will have the rights and privileges of citizens. Socio-political anecdotes aside, the Elliot-Murai mirror imaging is not only fascinating, it has served as an interface between my foreignness and my nativeness here in Canada.
Another Toronto last, today. My last day at Grace Toronto Japanese Church. My attendance there has been spotty at best, mainly because of my army reserve commitments and my frequent journeys out of town. However, when I first discovered the church two and a half years ago, they brought me out of the terrible slide into isolation and depression I was experiencing as a lonely graduate student working full-time night shifts as a security guard. At the time I was also living alone in a bachelor suite, which didn't help. But the good people of this tiny, tiny church took me in as one of their own. It is amazing how similar it is to the churches I grew up in in Aomori-ken.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Toronto Goodbyes Begin

Fellow residents, friends, and siblings: where's Gaijin? Posted by Hello

From left to right: Housemates Toru, Keiko, and Luke, all flying to Japan on the same day, on separate flights, and destined for different prefectures. Posted by Hello
Truth be told, I have no emotional qualms about indefinitely leaving Canada. Permanent farewells to close friends and acquaintances became a regular part of my life from a very young age. Ever since fourth grade when my American best buddy from my early Hokkaido and Aomori days said: "Bye Luke, we're never going to see each other again!" I have increasingly fortified my psyche against the unhappiness associated with separation. After all, I have never in my life resided in one municipality for more than four years at a time.

However, the goodbye parties are a nice touch anyway. On Friday night, all three floors of the shared house I live in came together for a bbq to mark the permanent departure of Keiko and myself, and the temporary departure of Toru. In other words, all three occupants of the second floor. It is perhaps significant that during my final years in Toronto I have surrounded myself with Japanese people, both by attending a Japanese language church and by choosing to live in shared houses occupied by Japanese tenants. It is a fact that I am more fluent in Japanese today than I was when I ceased to live in Japan ten years ago. Above are photos of the three "departees" and of those who came to celebrate their departure.

Soon to be Reunited!!!

During my fiancee Yuko's visit to Toronto in May. Posted by Hello

Friday, July 16, 2004

Keitai Cinema: My Cell Phone Cinematography Video Blog

History of Keitai Cinema (Scroll Down to View Keitai Cinema Short Movies)

Although this page is dated 17 July 2004 I actually created it on 28 June 2006. I moved the original content to the 16 July 2004 post in order to make room for this Keitai Cinema page. I first started taking video footage with my cell phone on 27 August 2004. I wanted to get into vlogging, but I had trouble finding ways to host my videos online. On 2 September 2004, after a few days of experimentation, I launched “Video of the Week” using a free but small and temporary Video Desk account. On 6 September, 01 Feral JET debuted as the second “video of the week.” When my free Video Desk account expired, I gave up on vlogging for awhile, although I continued to create home movies with my cell phone. The name Keitai Cinema dates to 12 April 2005 (the date from which I claim copyright to the name) when I launched my second vlogging attempt using a paid for web-hosting service. The mis-numbered and mislabelled 06 Awabi's Last Dance was my first short movie to debut under the Keitai Cinema name, although later I retroactively added four earlier shorts to the roll. The first season of Keitai Cinema productions came to an abrupt and premature end on 30 May 2005 when my first cell phone’s camera was damaged in a rice planting accident.


#003 (4 min 15 sec)

Released Worldwide on 8 November 2006

#002 (5 min 27 sec)

Released Worldwide on 12 August 2006
Special Features:
The Making of Operation Bearwatch (compiled and narrated by David Emery)

#001 (5 min 20 sec)

Released Worldwide on 28 June 2006

#10 (4 min 53 sec)
Launched 21 May 2005

#09 (3 min 27 sec)
Launched 28 April 2005

#08 (4 min 42 sec)
Launched 23 April 2005

#07 (2 min 43 sec)
Launched 19 April 2005

#06 (57 sec)
Launched 12 April 2005

#05 (1 min 4 sec)
Launched 13 April 2005

#04 (2 min 20 sec)
Story from 13 September 2004

#03 (45 sec)
Filmed 11 September 2004

#02 (1 min 7 sec)
Filmed on --originally debuted on Video of the Week

#01 (1 min 26 sec)
Debuted on Video of the Week on 6 September 2004

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Return of the Gaijin

So now it is finally happening. Ten years ago the seventeen-year-old version of myself left Japan forever. I hated Japan. I hated being the only gaijin boy of the only gaijin family for several towns around. I resented being robbed of a suburban childhood in suburban North America with suburban toys and a swimming pool--luxuries I somehow assumed I would be entitled to if I were living in Canada or the U.S. And here I am, twenty-seven years old, a ten year veteran of North American living and I still don't have a swimming pool or a four-wheeler. Instead, I find myself to be as much a gaijin here in my "home and native land" as I was in the Tsugaru, and I am ready to concede that there is no jurisdiction on earth to which I can or, for that matter, should pledge my heart and allegiance to. I am returning to Aomori.

Why Blog?
17 July 2004

There are a number of reasons motivating me to invest time and energy into maintaining a blog, and a number of loosely defined purposes I have in mind. First, I have gained considerable knowledge and enjoyment from the blogs of Aomori JETs who have gone before me, to a point where I now feel fairly familiar with Aomori JET culture without having actually joined it yet. Also, I am very conscious of my identity as a "third culture kid" and would like to contribute a source of practical information and personal experience as one of the legion of those who spent their salad days in foreign lands. Aditionally, now that I have grown up I feel that Aomori prefecture is perhaps the coolest place on earth, and I am anxious to do my part in inspiring this sentiment in the hearts of others. And finally, as I have concluded (not “somewhat hastily,” as Henry David Thoreau would maintain) that it is the chief end of humankind “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” I wish to be ever vigilant (in these communications) of the question: “How should we then live?”