言い出した // I Spoke Up

最近、自分を休ませた。

学期からのストレスが段々積み重ね、耐えると思った仕事量は結局耐え難くなった。効率は下がる。集中力は損する。情熱さも、失う。日に日に出席していた授業は、ある時「何も身につけない」感じがした。実際に、何を聞き入れているの?内容はちゃんと理解しているの?混乱になっていった僕は、今でも新しいきっかけを探っている。

実は、自分の声を探っている。最近悟った真相は、言葉という範囲以内、世の中にはオリジナルなものが出せるわけがない。言葉とはみんなの通用するものであっで、いつも他者から借りた語を通して自分を表現することである。自分の母語というものもただ頭に慣れた言葉であり、割と速く活用できるだけと思う。勿論熟成な言語学者ではない際、理論的には通じるかどうかわからない。しかしこれは経験から得たものです。

従って、言語とアイデンティティの繋がりが重要となりつつ、あやふやになってしまう。母語が英語なのに、イギリス諸島を起源としながら母国のカナダに発散したこの言語は、前の「借り言葉理論」として自分の言語と呼ばれるものなのか?来日以降ずっと悩んでいたことは、自分がどういう風に見られているのか?「カナダ人」と自己紹介する途端、自分が「実際にどこから来たのか」と訊きたい人が大勢いるはずだと思う。香港系の中国人だというけど、共に話せる家族と友人、または好みの映画・歴史・大衆文化のかけら以外は全く中国文化と馴染んでない。中国の地理より日本の地理が多分詳しい。政治観点は勿論。それに何年間惚れた韓国語もカウントしないといけない。これ全ては、自分の身分がはっきりしていないことを示しているだけだ。

日本在住経験の少ない僕は今日本に住んでいることに対して、あるときは不自在と感じてしまう。自分の「日本」との葛藤(厳しすぎるかな)・紛らわしい心の繋がりは歳月を経って変化していくはず。

最近は、凹んでしまった。自分の声が失いつつあった心配で、怯えた。自分の快活さ、生活のあらゆるものに対する好奇心が期待と失望によって沈ませていることが怖がって、行先がわからなかった。人に批判される気持ちが心の奥にいつも残っていた。

でも神様に与えられたものは、大きい声で勝利の言葉を主張する勇気である。主イエスに贖われた勝利者として、主を頼っている者の口から言い出す言葉はいつも勝利の宣言であるべきだ。だから僕は怯えずに、主の賛美を絶え間なく歌う。夜中に恐怖が襲って来ても、勝利の言葉を神様の力によって宣伝する使命がある理由で、「奇跡を行う神を」信じ続く。

I have wanted to say such words for a very long time.

I have not been brave enough to say these words.

I have not been brave enough to claim that God has power over my challenges – that it has nothing to do with how capable I am or how eloquently I speak on any given day, but rather with the presence of the Spirit in my life thanks to what Christ Jesus did.

Just like coming here gave me a fuller picture of Japanese culture, as if turning off the lights and letting the UV writing that connected all the puzzle pieces shine through – I did not claim my inheritance to His power until I recognized that I could not, and could never, do anything on my own. It is God that gives me the power to forgive others and myself. It is God that gives me the words to speak and the strength to dance. And God’s victory is not the dish of the day – God’s victory is everlasting and unchanging, and I will not be afraid to say it even when every mouth – including my own – is whispering defeat into my ears.

I went to a worship event last week with my youth group here, since it had been too long since I had the chance to pour myself out so freely. Of course, as one might expect of a Japanese crowd, everyone at the beginning felt pretty reserved about raising their hands, falling to their knees, etc. The worship leader (who recently released a single in which my friends were the backup dancers – check it out here) took the liberty of leading us through these typical worship motions, saying something to the tune of, “We’re not worshipping in Japanese culture. We’re worshipping in Kingdom culture!”

When I don’t know where I belong, God tells me, “You belong here, with me. I will give you the words to speak, no matter what language they are in. Now speak for me.”

海と人間 (宣言) // The Sea and Humanity (A Manifesto)

(Photo is from DH’s Pender Island Retreat, January 2017.)

I remember myself being enamoured by the sea, even when I knew nothing about it.

In kindergarten we were once asked by the teacher what colour water was. Without a second thought, I answered, “blue!” since water in cartoons and Disney movies was always blue. She never really convinced me otherwise, no matter how much she maintained that water was “clear”.

The sea is a mystery to humanity, because as much as it gives life and is full of it, it is also powerful and spontaneous and incomprehensible. As much as we wish we could grasp its vastness and diversity, this is God’s prerogative and His alone. But in together being part of His creation, we are able to share in its bounty and its beauty.

Today, I visited DisneySea with some fellow exchange students. It was the first time since my mother went back to Canada, and the first time I had to commute to and fro between my dorm and Disney.

As I put on my Disney playlist on my way home, I realized something as I listened to one of my most treasured songs.

My favourite princess has always been Ariel. (Maybe not always.) I could relate so much to the way she felt like she had everything but always wanted more – something that her world couldn’t give her no matter how complete it ought to be seen as. She spent all her time exploring, obsessing over the human world, wishing she could be there. And in order to gain what she wanted, she was willing to sacrifice everything – her family, her ties to her homeland, even her ability to sing and to speak, regardless of the fact she was warned of the human world and its dangers.

And isn’t that a little bit like what I’m doing?

I was so loved by the people around me, yet I felt like I didn’t fit in, and I was willing to leave them and everything I knew behind to go to a new place I wasn’t sure about. Even now, I’m not sure – every time I run into a challenge or am asked about “how Japan is treating me”, I can’t quite give an answer.

The grotto of my mind is full of “gadgets and gizmos aplenty” from the place I love. I’m interested in Japanese cinema, Japanese literature, modern Japanese history – and there are some things I know about that I think would startle the typical Japanese person. But in the end a collection of trinkets in a grotto is just that – unsourced, decontextualized information without experience to be grounded in.

I must be willing to lose my elocution in order to be close to the culture I have loved. This means I speak slower, make mistakes when talking and writing, and that in conversation I am sometimes perceived as quiet even though my brain is boiling over with things to participate with. I can say what I want to say, but I’m not native, and sometimes not native is just not enough. As someone who took years and years to get to a point where they finally feel like they can say what they want to say in their native language, this imposed dumbness is incredibly, incredibly frustrating. Add on the fact that studying on-and-off for 10 years should have gotten me further than this, and some days I just want to pack my bags and go home. It’s hard to understand how much it means to be Canadian until you leave Canada.

And in the end Ariel gets the fairy tale ending – her father’s magic powers grant her legs, and she gets married to the handsome Prince Eric, the first person she meets from the surface.

We can think about all the factors that came together and will come together. How many times had Ariel been to the surface in order to assemble her collection? How many times had she gone there and back without seeing a single person? What are the chances that the first man she lays eyes on is the good-looking, rich heir to the kingdom? And if she can use a dinglehopper to comb her hair, how much trouble will she have adjusting to all the other parts of human culture? How much will she be ridiculed by the courtesans around her, even if she is a princess?

Without King Triton and his kingly trident, those of us who aspire to a culture apart from our own have to deal with problems like this. Just like Ariel, we may have a father and a caretaker who urge us not to go, by any means necessary. Unlike Ariel, our caretaker may not employ the entire ocean to implore us to stay, and in song, no less. Just like Ariel, we may be stuck laying at the bottom of a grotto filled with treasure, staring at the white light permeating from the sun’s rays. We may think we are experts without ever having once gone there. Unlike Ariel, aspirations, marriages and immigration are not as simple as a 1, 2, 3 and a “But, Daddy, I love him!” (No, Ariel. You’re in love with his culture and his looks, not the person himself.)

At this point, I can’t say that I have unwavering resolve. Some days are very, very hard, and for someone with my goals and my outlook who came here, I feel like it really shouldn’t be. But – and this point is just like Ariel – if my love and my longing to be here is strong and authentic enough, I will be able to overcome those obstacles. Every time I can’t make sense of a reading, every time someone automatically switches into English because I’m a “foreigner” – even though these things get under my skin and destroy my nerves way, way more than they should (and more often than not), if God has truly put this country, this language, and this culture on my heart, then I know I will be able to overcome it. Since I’m here, I know that He has. And since He has, I know I can.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Update // 更新

Hey everyone,

I’m sorry for the delay in writing up a new blog post. I had a few down along the pipeline, but with lectures starting and life in Tokyo starting to settle in, it’s been a bit difficult for me to sit down and pump something out. Writing this blog, for me, is like having a conversation with someone at home – except that the conversation is kind of one-sided. If anything I write prompts you guys to respond, I hope that you do so through one avenue or another. It reminds me to “keep it real” – not to take myself too seriously, and to remember that wherever I am, there are people at home who love, support, and are praying for me, and (as per Joshua 1:9 and my Instagram post) my God “will be with me wherever [I] go.”

みなさん、お元気ですか?

この間何にも通告できなくてごめんなさい。授業が始まったばかりので、もう大変になりつつあるのです。生活にもなり始めたのですが、いっぱい慣れてないものもありますので、最近の気分が混雑になってしまうときもあります。それでも、うちのみなさんとこのチャンネルに通して自分の経験をシェアできることは本当に嬉しくさせます。みなさんはぜひ、私の書いたことを読んで、何か感想や反応ができたことになったら、遠慮なくどんな方法を通しても私に告げてください。これで落ち着けさせる上に、神様はいつも臨在であることをインスタの掲載どおり覚えさせます。

School

Lectures are in full swing here at Keio. After a somewhat harrowing course registration process (I was chatting with my friend from rival school Waseda, where the process is largely the same, and with regards to the process back home and not getting your classes, she said, “That’s so stressful!”), I ended up taking courses in Japanese linguistics, early modern history and literature, and religious thought. Everyone says school is supposed to be easy, and it really could be when lecture consists of 90 minutes of the prof delivering information. (The girl behind me in one of my lectures was fully asleep the entire time.) But of course I have a language barrier (regardless of its size) to take into consideration, and I really, really want to get this content down. Sometimes I don’t really know what to do when I’m caught between hanging out with new friends, trying to read the one-too-many books I’ve bought, or trying to work through content that sometimes really is a little over my head. I’m hoping I’ll get the swing of it soon.

授業のリズムは段々激しくなっていきます。複雑な授業登録して終わった後、結局日本史、論理思想、文学、語学に関する授業に登録しておりました。みんなは「日本の授業は何とかラクの方が多いかな」って、授業90分に渡って先生の説教のみ聞くことは本当にそれを確認するかもしれません。(前回後ろに座っていた女子が全授業ぐっと寝ていたのです。)でも日本語で授業をとるのは、日本の学生と比べる私は劣っていた状態になりますよね。課題を本当に理解したいところで、毎日の生活の中にどこでどのぐらい頑張った方がいいのかよくコツはまだ捉まってないと思いますけど…「何とかやれる」と思います。

Church

Church family at home, please be assured that I am being blessed beyond anything I could have expected. There’s so much I want to tell you about my church here – the worship is superb, for both the musicians and the congregation; the fellowship is warm and welcoming; there are so many opportunities I’ve found through the church’s different ministries – Bible study, dance ministry, on-the-spot interpretation, you name it – that have profoundly touched me and made me grateful to be here, grateful for the support network of fellow believers I don’t know what I’d do without. I’m even more excited to know that God is turning your eyes and hearts toward this country. I’m waiting in anticipation, and striving every day so I can bring good news back to you.

うちの教会の皆さん、私はここに本当に嬉しくて、恵まれています。賛美する時も、音楽員も信者の皆さんたちも惚れている気がするし、兄弟姉妹たちと仲良くして、食事や礼拝後コーヒー集まりもしてるし、教会の別々の活動によって感動させています。皆さんが応援しているだからこそ毎日頑張る力を出すことができます。皆さんが日本に目線と心を神様の恩典によって向かっていることがゆえで、本当に喜んでいます。これからいいことが告げられるように期待しています。

Dance

The caliber of training here is so very high. I’m going to my church’s Gospel dance workshop every Tuesday night, organized by a friend from church, and being exposed to a lot of different styles. There are still a few studios on my list I need to hit, but there are so many opportunities for training that I really, really want to take – would appreciate some prayer for that.

トレーニングの水準が高くて驚かせます。火曜日教会のゴスペルダンスWSに通っているゆえで、様々なスタイルと接触することができます。この東京には多様なスタイルのスタジオが存在していますので、まだ全部行っていませんから、祈って下されるなら本当に感謝します。

 

今日1日、偶然の冒険 // Today, by Chance, an Adventure

なんか決まっていたポストではないんですけど、ちょっと気分が盛り上がってとっさに書きたかった経験なんです。

This isn’t a post I had planned (note that I have a few of those in the pipeline), but one I’m writing in the spur of the moment out of my own experience.

この間は慶応正規生のコースが取れるのかどうか悩んでいました。N1を得るのがもう取り得たんっすけど、それはもう何年間前のことで、その間UBCにコースをとって、プレゼントやレポートを何本か提出したとしても、友達の話を聞いて、学校はそれまで認証しない場合もあったと知っていました。そのために、認定書も日本に持っていないので、開講言語が日本語のコースが取れるのかって非常に困っていました。そもそも留学の目的はそれだったから、取れなくなったら本当にがっかりされると思いました。この間何名かの兄弟姉妹たちに祈りを求めました。

This past while, I’ve been concerned about whether I could take regular undergraduate courses offered at Keio. I have my N1 certificate, but I had received it several years ago, and even though I’ve taken courses at UBC and done any number of presentations and reports (in Japanese), I heard from my friend that the school might not even take into account that experience. As such, and since I hadn’t brought my certificate to Japan, I was very concerned about whether I’d be able to take courses where the language of instruction was Japanese. Since that was my objective for studying abroad from the beginning, I knew I’d be very disappointed if I wasn’t able to. This while, I’d been asking many brothers and sisters for prayer.

しかし、今朝寮に戻ってから神様の配給が現れ始めました。認定書のデジタルコピーをパソコンの密かな処に見つかって、面接のためによく備えて行くことができました。残っていたプラニングも予想よりラクで、三田駅に到着してから時間の余裕はまだ残していて、歩きながら新しい道、新しい出口から学校まで通うのを決まりました。出てから迷子するのはしたけれども、大体問題なく学園まで来ました。

However, from when I returned to the dormitory this morning, God’s provision began to appear. I found a digital copy of the certificate in a hidden corner of my laptop, and thus was able to head to the interview well-equipped. My course plan took less time than expected, and as I arrived at Mita Station, since I had some extra time left I decided to take a new path, a new exit to school. I got a little lost at first, but arrived at campus without trouble.

面接の時でも、先生より教室に誘われてから、なんか難しい質問一つも聞かなくて、ただアドバイザーからコースプランの一覧で「これで結構です」と部屋から出られました。その瞬間、頭には少し朦朧な感じをしたんですけど、ほとんどの思いは感謝や期待の気持ちでした。本当に神様の恩典、先生方のお勤め、自分の心血や実力によってここまで来て、ようやく日本文化、日本史、国文学に関するコースを取ることができました。エレベータに降りていた際、「よっしゃー!」を一声出すのはたまらなかった。

Even at the interview, once I was invited into the classroom by the teachers, I wasn’t asked a single difficult question, but was able to leave the room after a glance and a “That’s fine” from the advisor. At that moment, though my mind was filled with some confusion, it was mostly (filled with) thoughts of gratitude and excitement. It was truly God’s grace, the work of my instructors (who indexed the certificate for me from my initial application) and my blood, sweat, tears, and hard work that got me here, to be able to study Japanese culture, history and literature. As I descended in the elevator, I couldn’t help but let out a cry of “よっしゃー!”

今は歩きながら見つかったすごいカフェーにのんびりコーヒー楽しんでいます。PASSAGE COFFEEという店なので、職員の皆さんは本当にコーヒーに関してよくご存知で、来れば来るほどコーヒーを楽しむことを学べると思います。(先日もゴッドマザーたちのおかげで少しウイスキー入門になりました。これによって、同じようにコーヒーを軽く、一口一口ずつで鑑賞することを学んでいます)

Even now, I am sitting at an amazing café I found on the way to the school. It’s called PASSAGE COFFEE, and everyone really seems to know a lot about coffee; I think I’ll be able to learn more about how to enjoy coffee the more I come here. (The other day, thanks to my godmothers, I got the chance to learn a bit about Japanese whiskey. From that experience, I learned to appreciate my coffee lightly, a sip at a time.)

今日ここまでの毎瞬間はほんとに、素晴らしかったです。

Every moment of today until now has been amazing.

初めの黙想 // My First Musings

I’d like to thank my friend Yunji for gifting me a travel journal. I didn’t expect to feel so compelled to journal so soon into the trip, but Tokyo has been so much sensory overload in the best possible way. It’s so much more than I expected. Please find below an edited version of a passage I wrote last night.

“I am sitting in the tatami room of my AirBnB right now.

The crickets are chirping outside, and the sound of families chatting after their dinners in the quiet neighbourhood of Sancha 三茶, which is a part of Setagaya, flows through the open window.

I am also writing this entry with my new Muji pen.

The nearest Muji store is on Chazawa-dori 茶沢通り which connects the area Sangen-jaya 三軒茶屋 to another larger area, Shimokitazawa 下北沢. 茶沢通り is filled with eateries, local clinics, coffee shops, konbini (convenience stores) and generally anything you might expect to find in a typical urban Japanese neighbourhood. There’s a 24-hour Seiyu (department store), 7-11, FamilyMart, and a few more places I haven’t been to. There’s also a scale model of King Kong sitting atop a kickboxing gym and a soba-ya 蕎麦屋.

All I can say is every time I look around, I feel like I’m in a dream. Everything is so new and yet oddly familiar, and when I opened my window this morning I looked out at the tightly-packed houses with thatched roofs behind me, then at the traditional appointment of my room and I realized I really wasn’t dreaming.

I’m living in Japan for five months, and this is only the second day.

5ヶ月日本に住んでいる間、これはただの2日目でした。

My recollections will come to me in bits and pieces. But every feeling, every thought I have on this trip, I want to remember, because everything is so 印象的 – impressive. Even now the first thought that I had was “this Muji pen is so convenient it writes so beautifully and does not bleed even though I’m 左利き (left-handed)”. (Exhibit A of my confirmation bias about the wonder of Japanese products) Did you know they have left-handed exactoknives? I’m floored.

Today I bought 3 books at Muji and 4 at Taiseido 大盛堂 in Shibuya – partly because I want to feel Japanese and partly because I really want to read these books, and really because I wish so badly that I could read them as quickly as a Japanese could.

By the end of the day I always feel so exhausted from having to translate between Japanese and Cantonese for Mum all day. You should see the looks I get from people waiting in line when I’m trying to explain the entire menu at a fast food restaurant. By the end of the day my head is a cesspool of words I didn’t know and am trying to remember, or words I looked up and am trying to memorize, and just a constant cauldron of my native language(s) and what seems more and more to be my adopted one.

I went to Shibuchika Shopping Road to buy a backpack with Mum, and as Japanese of all walks of life passed me by in their rush to and from the many chapters of their lives, I couldn’t help but feel the desire to be one of them – to speak their beautiful language, and wear their amazing, unique clothes, and live in that indescribable megalopolis they call Tokyo.

The Greater Tokyo Area holds 10 million people. 一千万人. That’s 3 Vancouvers and a bit. It’s one of the great cities of the world, embodied for me today by the sight of the Shibuya Scramble. Japan possesses one of the world’s great languages and cultures – one that I have been enamoured with all my life, one that does not cease to amaze me and one that I will pour out my heart and soul to get to know these five months.

My mother told me that I look more handsome today. Maybe that’s because experiencing everything that is “Japan” is all that I’m concerned with – no tasks, no schedules, no places to be. Just open eyes, a careful tongue, a sharp mind, and a warm heart.”

//

ここの生活に適応できるまで、日本語の掲載は一応中止します。誇れるほどな日本語を話したいんです。その為に、毎晩買った本の一章ぐらいを読むことに決めた。毎日うちに帰る時にも、頭の中に言葉が混ざれているほど疲れているけど、この生活を心の底まで体験できるために、精一杯尽くして頑張ります。

出発直前一週間 // One Week Before Departure

みなさん、お元気でしょうか?

最近何も掲載しなくてごめんなさい。出発前に準備するべきなことが多すぎて、会うべき人も同じ。

これからも更に頻繁に書くつもりだと思います。日本語と英語の内容も違うことがあるかもしれない。なぜなら、日本語を使って書いている時は、日本語愛好者・東京潜入者として書いて入る身分で、考えることが移動されたカナダ人の私の気分と異なるかもしれない。

声が別々としても、「真実はいつも一つ!」(笑)二つの声が一人の中に含まれています。

みなさんと最近の経験をシェアできるように、最近のインスタグラムに掲載したものを見せてあげます。過ごした二週間に渡って、BC州の内陸で教会の若者と、当地に売れない野菜が海外の貧弱者達に運べるようにその野菜を切って、混ぜて、いろんな準備をしていました。ボランティア活動をするチャンスよりも、この青年達の世界観が広がって、神様ともっと親切な関係になったことのために感謝しています。

//

I apologize to my readers for the lack of posting lately. I have been busy in my preparations to leave, packing and seeing people. But as the date of my departure gets closer I’ll get more and more into the habit of posting. After I arrive, I suspect the content of my Japanese and English posts will begin to differ as well – since the feelings of my displaced-Canadian self might be different from the thoughts of my oh-my-I’m-in-Tokyo, Asia and Japan-loving self. We’ll see.

For the sake of sharing where I’ve been, I’ve attached a link to one of my recent Instagram posts. I spent two weeks up in Oliver, BC, alongside youth from my church, chopping vegetables in preparation for them to be sent as a soup mix to the poor in developing countries. More so than just seeing this as a volunteer opportunity, I was so amazed by the expansion of their worldview and how much they were able to grow closer to Christ.

first solo trip with my boyfriend

This post is a bit late (I went on this trip in May and it’s now the end of August…) but I finally got to go on my first solo trip with my boyfriend of five years!

I really think that taking a vacation with someone really makes or breaks your relationship. It’s really that time that you spend together that tells you whether or not you’re compatible with the person or not. And after a week of New York spending every single day and every single hour together… I like to think that we aren’t doing so bad.

Here’s the story of how I got to go: when I was in Grade 12 and we had only been dating for around a year, I asked my mom when I would be able to go on vacation with Colin. Her response: “After you graduate university.” So I graduated this year, and before I graduated I told her, “So I’m graduating this year. I’m going to New York with Colin.”

She said that I had to graduate from graduate school before I could go. Which, in my opinion, was extremely unfair – she hadn’t mentioned this added on condition when we first agreed on this! Obviously I was angry, and left the topic for a few days. Then I just told her, “I’m going. Okay?” (But it wasn’t like she could stop me anyways and she knows it…)

Colin’s never been to New York before, but I’ve gone when I was in Grade 7 (and also another time before apparently, but I really can’t remember) – so that was around 9 years ago? And of course going on vacation with family when you’re a child is so different from going on vacation with a significant other or a friend. You find so many different things to do, and the dynamic of the vacation is completely different.

It’s now really hard for me to imagine not going on vacation with him any more because our methods of planning vacations are so similar – we plan things down to the tee, and then just scrap it in the end ???? It works out better for us because in a city like New York that’s so busy, instead of taking our time looking at everything we’d rather walk a bit faster so we can take in more of the city. Good thing we both walk pretty fast! It’s also good because we’re okay with spending money on certain things but not others (for example, food…).

Colin and I both really like to try new foods, so our meals (more like snacks.. we rarely ate proper meals) were really important to us. I got to try Bubba Gump for the first time (he’s already gone before) after we watched a Broadway show together (so expensive but so worth it!). Normally he’s pretty strict on me eating snacks and ice cream and whatnot (ice cream is my favourite) but he was very very lenient and let us eat 2 ice creams in 1 day. On the same day we also ate 2 bagels and 2 slices of pizza.

I think the best thing about travelling with a significant other is that you can share everything you eat, meaning you can eat more and try more new things!

Going on vacation with Colin also helped me to learn to budget myself. Even though I don’t have a vacation budget (yet), I kept track of both my and his expenses, the shared and the separate. It’s helping me to become more money wise – and I had the chance to do this again when we went on another vacation with our friends a few week ago (blog post coming up soon!) to Disneyland!

I haven’t written in a very long time which is why this post is so messy and has no content.. but TL;DR: I went on vacation with my boyfriend, and learned a lot about me, him, and how to adult.

more than a year later

It’s officially been over a year since I’ve returned from my four months in Seoul, and so much has changed. I’ve finished my degree at UBC, I have four part-time jobs, and I’m starting a new school in September. It really feels strange that 16 months ago I had just arrived in Seoul with my friends, not knowing what to expect. Now, so many of the things that I do remind me of my time in South Korea. (Like making Korean Army Stew and Spicy Rice Cakes at home for my boyfriend, eating Korean-style shaved ice, and only eating Korean food whenever I meet up with my UBC friends from exchange…)

One of my friends recently went to South Korea for a month-long vacation, and seeing all her photos just made me miss it so much. Prior her to departure she messaged me a lot, asking about things to do in South Korea and about my experiences as well. It reminded me that it wasn’t just a dream, I was actually there for four months, learning and growing at my own pace and in my own way. The experience of exchange made me grow so much, and thinking back on the type of person I was before I left… it’s a change that I’m glad happened. Growth is never bad, right?

Thinking back, I’m not sure what prompted me to go on exchange. As a person I don’t really like to try new things or take risks – I’m that person who doesn’t like phoning in to make a reservation for dinner, and I rarely make the first move in a conversation. Seoul was so full of new experiences and it kind of ignited this newfound courage in me to try new things (like the raw octopus.. which I do not regret because it was so good) and to really work towards the things that I want. If I hadn’t kept pushing and reminding myself about my Go Global application and getting all the required documentation and testing done before I left for Seoul.. I might not have made it.

But I’m so glad that I did, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m hoping to be able to return to South Korea sometime in Summer 2018, hopefully with my boyfriend and some of my friends, so I can show and share with them my own experiences while creating new ones with them. I’m getting excited just thinking about it now, even though it’s a year away!

映画学入門の感想 // Initial Thoughts on “Intro to Japanese Cinema”

最近、心を日本に旅立つ準備をしている間に、いろんな経験、いろんな考えができました。

日本映画入門という授業を聞き、この1ヶ月黒沢先生や小津先生の名作を恐ろしいスピードで鑑賞できるようになりました。何年か前の日本の雰囲気を感じ、歴史背景を学ぶと共に、当時の感情や社会問題をせめて少しずつ実感できたと思います。(其処に立っている時の印象がそれによって深くなると思います。)ちなみに、映画を見て入る間、実際に日本にいる時に訪ねたい処のリストを編集しているので、出発の日が迫ってくる限り、気分がなんとワクワクなっていますね〜

今は夜遅く書いて入るので、書けば書くほど期待という気持ちが広がっていきます。さて、今日はここまで!

(Recently, as I prepare myself to depart for Japan, I’ve done a lot of thinking, and experienced quite a lot as well.

Taking a course entitled “Intro to Japanese Cinema”, I’ve become able to appreciate the works of such directors as Ozu and Kurosawa very quickly over the past month. I feel that through cinema, not only have I been able to feel the ambiance of a Japan long gone, but while surveying some of the historical background I can live, even a little bit, the societal considerations and “feel” of those times. (I’m sure it will make my time there much more fulfilling.) As I watch, I’ve also been compiling a list of places to go while I’m there. As my day of departure approaches, I somehow get more and more excited.

It’s pretty late here as I write, but the more I write the more my anticipation builds. That’s all for today!)

 

007 – Comic Market 91

I snort as I snap awake, the cold, early morning air biting my face. I look around me, blinking sleep out of my eyes. I have no idea how long I was passed out for. Endless hordes of what can only be described as nerds are all around me, sitting on tiny stools and wrapped up in winter clothes, their noses in books. It’s late December, and it’s not even 7AM yet. I look to my friends, hunched over their Nintendo DS’s. I then glance up at the massive, iconic building before me; Tokyo Big Site, the home of the legendary Comic Market: the veritable Mecca of otaku.

A tiny part of the lineup. We sat here for HOURS and watched the sun come up…

HI UBC BLOGS.

I AM ALIVE.

You will not believe what I have been through in the last few months. Real talk, some of it’s actually been pretty serious and I haven’t quite told UBC what happened yet, so I figured I’d hop back on the blog and catch up and slowly unravel my tale, since it’s no fun doing what the Japanese like to call neta bare, also known as spoiling the story line! I may as well make it interesting, eh? I deeply apologize that I have taken literal months to update, things got kind of nuts from the end of December and it didn’t all calm down until this month (my goodness where did 2017 go?).

Let’s go back to December.

The massive tome in my arms is the size of a telephone book and is filled to the brim with tiny panels showcasing each circle offering their works for sale. For when we finally get into the building anyway.

Twice a year, Tokyo Big Site (a large international conference building) plays host to a giant event known as Comic Market, aka Comiket. Hundreds of thousands of people will ride the first train of the morning and line up just for a chance to get into the building, where tens of thousands of groups that make comics and fan fiction, called circles, will sell their latest works to the public.  Along with amateur artists, pros will also sell their works at tables that are lined up through massive halls, all lettered and numbered in an order that takes at least a week to learn and understand (at least that’s how long it took me to figure out how to navigate the place!). Unlike anime conventions back home, where many different forms of media will typically be sold, artists generally only sell dojinshi, also called fanzines. These are slim, often exclusive works drawn and penciled by fans of official media, often making up their own story lines and scenarios for their favourite characters. On the other side of the massive building, there will also be an area for official anime and manga companies to set up their own booths and sell exclusive merchandise.

Comiket is run over the course of three days: always a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Comiket 91, which we attended, was held on the last three days of the year, as is common for the event when held in winter. Day 1, we lined up for seven hours to be able to make it inside the merchandise area, all for my friend to be able to get her hands on exclusive keychains and similar goods that one would not be able to find elsewhere. I also managed to purchase an exclusive clear file with Revy from Black Lagoon, an anime series that I enjoyed as a teenager. There were so many people that we had to be herded around like packs of hungry dogs, all eager to be able to get into the large, packed halls full of people all lining up to buy those fanzines and goods that they’ve been waiting months to get their hands on.

Day 2 was all about the books that we wanted, especially because it is notorious for women-only circles, who tend to specialize in a genre known as ‘Boy’s Love’ (BL). These are stories where main male characters will be paired with each other in romantic and often exaggerated stories, regardless of their sexual orientation in the original works they’re from. I was lucky enough to attend when Yuri on Ice!! had just come out, an anime series that featured overly pretty male figure skaters with massive homo-romantic overtones. I have never seen so many illustrations of half-naked men covered in glitter in my life.

It was beautiful.

Me running around in pure happiness, Tokyo Big Site looking majestic as heck beside my penguin-like body.

One thing that Comiket is also known for is the cosplay scene, which tends to explode here. Cosplaying in public is generally frowned upon here (I will post more on this later), so any chance for the locals to come out and strut their stuff is greatly appreciated. Not to diss Vancouver, but damn, Tokyo’s cosplay community is insane! There’s less pressure here on cosplayers to make their own outfits and look, so people tend to purchase more components of their costuming, and as a result, they end up looking pretty darn legit. I saw some amazing stuff, and many of the nerds that had lined up for hours made a beeline for the cosplay-designated area once we were cut loose, high-resolution cameras in hand.

All in all, Comiket 91 was a raging success, after weeks of planning with friends and coming up with buying strategies, as well as how best to line up. I feel as though I have passed some sort of initiation rite, and become an otaku myself, aka a crazed fan, albeit specifically for comics. It was most definitely worth all of the suffering, and I even specifically booked my flight back to Canada to be AFTER Comiket 92, because I have to go back. I even applied for my own table so that I could express my own artistic love of comics… but more on that later… ????