Lent 2017, junk food/media

Despite both not being a Christian, and when I was, not being a part of it that did Lent, a friend mentioned she was doing it last year and so I decided to do something too. I think the idea of giving up something for a month or more is a good experience. For Lent 2016 I gave up English media. And I kind of failed miserably, while still succeeding at the core goal of playing/reading way more in Japanese. It was probably one of the best things I did for my Japanese ability.

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Let’s learn from Engrish! Owe a favor.

The other day I ran into a bizarre bit of English on a child’s t shirt.

“Always owe a favor”

Which is of course, probably some poor translation of something, or even potentially just a random mix of words pushed together until something that looked like a sentence was born from the abyss.

However, for some reason, this caught my eye. I decided to go from the premise that it was supposed to be positive. Why would you always owe a favor? Probably because you ask for them.

Which means you are always asking for help. Which is something people often don’t do as much as they need to. So this is not a message of constant debt, but simply a request to ask for help.

At least, that’s the story I’m running with.

Being out, and not.

I recently ran into this line

“I wouldn’t necessarily mind people not knowing I’m gay, but I don’t like being thought of as straight — in the same way that I don’t mind people not knowing I’m a writer, but it would be awkward if they assumed I was an extreme skateboarder, because that’s so far removed from the reality of my life.”


It isn’t from the what might be considered the best publication in the world, but it really manages to say something I’ve never quite managed to articulate really well about being gay and coming out. Why does it matter? This is why it matters to many people on an individual level. It’s not about wanting people to know you are gay, it’s about not wanting an assumption that is totally untrue about you placed on you, and the conversations that spawn from those conversations are similarly awkward.

Being asked by co-workers, friends, random strangers “Do you have a girlfriend?” comes from an honest place. A good place, they honestly want to know more about me. But for me, I have quickly have to decide how to approach it.

“No” – Technically true. Lying by omission
“No, I don’t have a boyfriend” – True, explains my position, also comes off as rude given the corrective nature..
“I’m gay” – But they didn’t ask that.

Each time fills me this rush of which answer to pick, and usually it’s a fairly shot no that often has a short sharp sound to it. Even though I usually give the same response, it’s been a struggle since being in Japan, how to approach this. I don’t want to have to come out to people I know, but I don’t want to keep answering the “Do you have a girlfriend” question as I am. Especially when I eventually have a boyfriend. (Which I am optimistic will be a thing that happens while I am employed here) With the local ALTs, well, someone kinda outed me. Which was convenient although I had intended to delay that a little longer than the first week and say it much more casually. Although now we have new ones! So I have to manage that at some point too.

“Coming out” is often billed as a single event. And while yes, that first time or first set of times are usually very important to you, the whole thing is a continuous process. It’s strange, back home, I was out to well, everyone. Heck, I even got paid to come out to other people. Most of the time, I “come out” to people through an off hand joke, reference, or just casually, normally, regale a tale of a past male love. For the longest time, I tried to avoid the classic coming out tale, of telling someone “I am gay.” Even though it is a big part of my own tale.

Here in Japan, I have come out to only one co-worker actually. I tried to make it nice and casual, I gave her a speech I had been working on a contest. She was a smidgen awkward after this. Responded with a “Thanks for telling me.” I haven’t taught with her since, so I can’t comment on how this has impacted that aspect. I’ve had a few other people read the speech with somewhat awkward “nicely written” type responses. I’ve come out directly with one Japanese person here, mostly because I just needed to not have it just be other foreigners who I was out to. She was really cool about it, which was expected. I came out to her after a party where she introduced me to someone at a party of hers who was transgender. So I was playing it pretty safe there.

Coming out isn’t so much of a “I want to tell you my sexuality” and more of “I don’t to be lying by omission since I know what the expectation is.” And that makes it just a strange thing. It’s trying to counter an expectation that you feel it likely but too untrue. Even though the importance of someone knowing your sexuality isn’t important in itself. At time goes on and these things become less assumed, coming out will also be less needed, but right now, and in the culture I am in, it is a strong assumption.

Year looking forward, 2015-16

So far, for obvious reasons, I’ve been looking backwards not forwards with my posts recently. Time to look more at what I want to accomplish with this second year of JET. Which is something that has been greatly aided by the work done in the year review content. You might notice some kinds of goals you might expect here don’t appear. That’s because I want every single goal here to be specific and simple DID/DIDN’T. So things like “read more in Japanese” “go out more often” aren’t goals that are allowed on this list.

Pass the N3 Japanese Language Proficiency Test.

I had originally opted to not do this by now because I was unsure what my obligations towards life in Japan would look like in that first year, and thus wanted to work slowly towards this goal. Which was great, I appreciated the time I gave myself. But with the end of the musical looming I think it’s time to really knuckle down again and dedicate myself to study, which quite frankly I have been poor with since starting the musical. But this December I am going to do this! The ultimate goal is to end up with N1 by the time I leave, or shortly after, so this really shouldn’t wait much longer.

Attend 4 fighting game tournaments in Niihama.

I know Niihama has an arcade with fighitng game tournaments at least monthly, even playing host to some qualifiers for the Arc Revo Cup last year. I just need to start turning up. Once musical is over I should be able to do this more often. One of the goals I set myself jokingly was to be the best Naoto player in all Shikoku (from Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold). And while I had little intention of accomplishing that for real, I did want to get involved with the local gaming scene, particularly fighting games in a very meaningful way. Hopefully after becoming a bit of a regular attendance I can get more involved with local players outside the arcade which is the ultimate goal.

Go to a Dragon Quest X night

So on 9monster there are these ads for what sounds like the best thing. A night of Dragon Quest X (the MMO) with stuff going on, for gay men only. You can find more info http://www.dqxnight.tumblr.com unfortunately the event is limited to Tokyo, making the expense non trivial to say the least. But it just seems so bafflingly unique that I can’t not go. Although I need to actually start the online part of Dragon Quest X…. Unfortunately there isn’t one scheduled when I am in Tokyo next. DQX has a weird popularity that I can’t quite fathom. But many many men on 9monster admit to playing it in their profile, so obviously the community is there.

Hit 3 Yakitate Japan towns

I have a silly silly goal. I want to hit all the towns mentioned in the Yakitate 9 arc of Yakitate Japan and try the respective special ingredients. While hitting all of them might be a bit difficult as they are rather well spread out, I think I should be able to hit at least 3 over the next 12 months, and they as good as any reason to go to all sorts of odd interesting places.

Interview another Japanese developer

This year I had the amazing chance to interview the director of Fantastic Boyfriends. for Gaygamer.net. I had the help of the wonderful Anne Lee for that but I really enjoyed the experience of doing the interview, and really want to improve my interview technique, both written and audio greatly.

So those are a few of the easily quantifiable things I want to accomplish this year. I want to achieve a lot more than just this too. But, those goals aren’t as easy to define.

Medical Exam fun!

It seems pretty customary in Japanese school and business that you have a work provided health check every year. Frankly, this seems like a pretty good plan. What I wasn’t expecting was how it was managed.

I had envisioned a certain scenario, I’d rock up, there would be a line or something, get into the cue however it was managed, and then go see one doctor who would go through everything with me. This was very much not the case. I worked with at least a dozen people I am sure. Every measurement was handled by a different person at a different table. Which frankly is probably the only sensible way to manage such an operation, as they need to examine rather a lot of people on these days.

For the most part I didn’t struggle with language until we got to a past medical conditions section, which we both did a bit of dictionary searching to make sure we were communicating right.

Although, obviously since I am telling you about a part of my life I am either going to be preachy, observant or funny.

Of course, most of the equipment didn’t fit or I was just unlucky to have troubles.

I had to bend my knees and stand in a rather odd position for too long to for the x ray. The blood pressure thing flew off my arm because it was only connected around by a sliver of velcro. I needed 2 stabs for my blood test. When I was all wired up for heart stuff the … sensors(?) kept rolling off. Of course the scales didn’t go high enough to weigh me too (which is a pain. I was really optimistic that I’d finally get a weight reading at this examination.

Most of my troubles were greeted with a nice laugh, usually by the pair of us.

And while it shouldn’t surprise me that it was organised and well managed. It wasn’t what I expected. I get the feeling this these medical examinations would be something Australia could benefit from quite a bit. Although Australian and Japanese people have very different relationships with their work and school environments.

But, just in case anyone is wondering, I am still alive is the general consensus of the tests!

Year in review (2014-15), blogging

You didn’t think there would be more did you? How could there be more. We just had a post about cycling! CYCLING. However, at this point we are up to about 58 posts and there is still a week this blog celebrates 365 days of content. On average this worked out to more than a post a week, and while I am too slack to get the numbers, with an average word count of lets say, 400 (we have some really short posts), that is about 23200 words! Although in practice Musical, and things like this helped buff out those numbers considerably… But that still isn’t a trivial amount of writing given how little time I feel I put into this.

This is the first time I have done a blog that wasn’t ultra specific nor targeted towards at more specific audience than people interested in me. Overall that has made things a lot easier. I haven’t been too concerned with writing of high quality, and oddly, compared to my writing for my other blogs I ignore, is generally better.

The blog has been a big mish mash of things, which is a really nice change for me. Maybe not so great for making an audience, but nice for me! And really, what is a blog other than writing for yourself and then just hoping someone else might like it?

Overall though, I found I most enjoyed the more focused posts than I did a lot of the general wishy washy travel kind of writing. You can click travel to see how poor I am at that. Even the super interesting statue in a tree turned out to be a relatively poor post. One of the things I have really learned about blogging though over the year is that the best content, like all good stories, has arcs. The writing I don’t like that I’ve done all suffers from the fact that while it covers interesting ground it fails to result in an arc of any kind. So, now that this has really settled in my mind as a problem to solve, expect some fixes that way.

Musical Diaries might be something I try and keep up after the musical in a sense. I came to enjoy the short format they ended up as, just a short summary and a few asides about the event. Currently I am not convinced they are of great interest, but that I suspect is more a result I usually write them when I don’t have much time.

Since I have written SO MUCH, it is probably worth pointing out a few of the things I either enjoyed writing most, or I think are good pieces. There two aren’t always one and the same though.

Some of my favourite pieces through the year though are

9monsters and gay app dating in Japan. (follow up planned)

Study using games

Musical audition

ESL game breakdown Bowling

The Day the toilet attacked me

Rhythm games

Interview with the director of Fantastic Boyfriends: Legends of Midearth

I am certainly looking forward to updating the blog as we go into my second year of JET, and hopefully, maybe, possibly, spend a bit more time actually improving my writing.


Typhoon prep at elementary school.

So, the typhoon is coming. Obviously, I have prepared all the suggested assortments. All my handheld consoles are charged, spare batteries prepared. Oh and I cleared my balcony of things that might fly away, and bought enough food to last a week, and filled bottles with water to last a week too.

Anyway, I was at school today (well, yesterday). I didn’t have any classes though, because it’ll be the last day of school. But I had to attend anyway. So, the vice principle decided to use an additional strong tall person with no classes help the typhoon proofing of the school.

The first curious part of this whole scenario is who was doing this. While, I’ve never been involved in a project like this in Australia, I assume that it is not the principle, vice principle, and school… secretary(?) doing the task. Oh and the English teacher (me)

I assume most things had been taken care of previously, but we took down the tents by the swimming pools, and generally collected anything loose around the school grounds. It was pretty interesting in a sense. I mean, it was just basically yard work with a little more importance, but this really emphasizes one of the things I like about Japanese schools, that I am sure teachers back home might be less thrilled with. The school is everyone’s responsibility, and since, we were the staff who didn’t have pressing concerns at the time (teaching, helping students, etc) why would anyone else do a job we all had the time and ability to do.

Maybe school size plays a part here? But while the school isn’t LARGE per se, it also isn’t small, with most year levels having 3 classes.

There is something really nice about taking down tents with the top people at the school, and the fact that this wasn’t just a job left for the Janitors. (which, people aren’t employed for specifically at schools, although there are staff whom it is clearly an additional part of the their duties)

Currently looks like I’ll survive this weather quite fine though, so don’t be worrying.