46 views from JR windows

My brother went home.

Ten days of mooching across Southern and Eastern Honshu in every form of transport Japan Railways has to offer has culminated in a fat collection of violence themed puri-kura, a build up of dirty laundry, and the realization that already I'm missing our kid just way too much.

The brothers Pik cut a swathe, for your information, through Otsu, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, Miyajima and of course, Wakayama. ¥10,000 worth of fireworks was ignited and so too, to our next day sober horror, were a couple of items of civic property.

By popular consensus, of two individuals, Miyajima was the highlight. And Hiroshima is a fantastic place. I want to write a lot, or at least, something, about Hiroshima, but I'll post it tomorrow. I hope the both of you reading this are as excited about that prospect as I am.

For now, allow Moichido to present an abridged selection of puri-kura, which no doubt are far more hilarious for us then they are for you. This is partly because I witnessed my brother falling dramatically out of a puri-kura booth onto an ornamental fence with much noise and bluster and slight back injury, all for the sake of the print club series we like to call 'kicking in the head'.



Hey guys, this is where I live, Fukuoka. My flat should be in this area but it is hard to see anyway. That is the beach area and if you take a 5 minute tube ride, you will come down....here;

[Current Music] スキマスイッチ "全力少年"

Friday pictures!

Friday, my friends, is picture day on the Moichido Cooperative Experiment. So, as opposed to my frist two dreary, non-entertaining entries, i decided to put up a picture of something everyone gets excited about - architecture!

Ok, actually, i don't get all that excited about architecture. But anyways, this picture, taken in Tokyo, is of by far one of the coolest buildings i have seen in Japan. Cooler than temples, castles, and elementary schools. Way cooler than my apartment. See that gold building in the middle? Guess what type of product it is a headquarters for? First one to guess gets nothing.


蒸し暑い !

These recent sultry, humid days in Wakayama-shi have seen me instigating a new dress code for dinner. I hunch at this very desk wearing only boxer shorts and a hat. The hat lends the occasion a sense of dignity, I feel.
A large fan is trained constantly on my back. One day soon, I shall turn it on. The chopsticks slip all too predictably up and down in my useless, sweaty fingers. I groan periodically.
When smoking, I am unable to tell if the cigarette is lit, and it feels like I'm simply breathing through a straw.

I Googled 'sweat'.

Many, many pages. I learned of the different types of sweat (yes! more than one!!), of the bacteria that cause body odour, and of the various kinds of surgical procedures available to stop a person sweating. Can this be healthy? I would have thought some sensible advice such as 'stop running' would be just as helpful. Definitely cheaper.

And the cicada are amok. 'Min-min' is what they trill, if you're Japanese. I can hear it too though, it's the first Japanese onamatopaeic word I've been able to really appreciate. In September, the cicada are different. A smaller species which keens 'Suku suku bosh'. I don't understand this one. Because I'm not fluent.

I wonder, because I didn't ask, if there is a Japanese word for the god-awful screaming sound cicada make at around 8:00 on a Sunday morning when elementary school kids catch them and stick them in tiny cages? To me it sounds exactly like 'Arggghhhh! Noooo! Geeettttt. Theeeee. Fuckkkkkk. Offffffffff. Meeeeeeee!' but I'm not sure if it's how Basho would have described it. Which is a shame because it's exactly seven syllables.

So I wrote a haiku. About cicada. Difficult, because 'cicada' is a word greedy with the syllables. So I used the Japanese word instead. Also, I prescribe to Masaoka Shiki's 1892 reform of the haiku style. Hope that's ok.

Semi, in grass, hum.
Arggghhh! Noooo! Geettttt Theeeee Fuckkkkk Offfffff Meeeeeee!
Evil kid grins wide.


As I break new ground in poetry, my brother is several thousand feet in the air. Perhaps over Russia. In a plane.
I hope, in a way opposite to past sibling rivalries concerning whole roast chicken for dinner, that he didn't get a wing. Siberia looks cool. For the first 10 minutes.

The next week and a half will no doubt see me showing off to my brother, by demonstrating my ability to gesture wildly and speak English really...very...slowly...in....a...slightly...RAISED...VOICE in a way he could never master. Such is my command of Japanese.



And there it is - my duties as an ALT for Toyosato-cho are finished. I haven't been sure if i made the right choice to contract or not. Lately i have been wishing i was staying on, i have really gotten to know some of the students and teachers quite well, and many people seem sad that i am leaving. Maybe it just took time to get used to being here, or used to the different styles, or used to the rowdy kids at my school. Maybe the only reason i feel like this at all is because I AM leaving - that is, it seems bittersweet and i think i would maybe want another year, but if i actually had another year, maybe i would be miserable. Anyways, i had to give my farewell speech at school today, with a nice mix of English and (probably incorrect) Japanese. Anyways, for whatever odd reason i decided to put it on here. The Japanese isn't perfect, but it was understood enough that some of the students cried, so I figure I must have made a pretty good impression and done an ok job this year.

一年間前、日本に来ました。 あの時は、豊郷町を全然知りませんでした。あの時は友だちがいませんでした。 (One year ago, I came to Japan. At that time, I didn't know Toyosato town at all. At that time, I didn't have any friends.)

But many things can change in one year. Now, my life is in Toyosato.

あなたたちはいつも親切です。 ひまがあったら、あなたたちはいつも私と話しました。一年間のあと、今は 豊日中学校に友だちがたくさんいます。(All of you are always kind. When you had free time, you would always talk to me. Now, after one year, I have many friends at Toyosato Junior High School.)

Thank you for being my friend.

それと、英語のじゅうぎょうは楽しかったです。 (That, and English class was fun)

English can be very difficult, but you all tried very hard.

この一年、とてもよかったです。もうすぐアメリカに帰ります。私は、さびしくなりました。そのあと、日本に戻りたい。(This (one) year was very good. Soon i will go back to America. I have become sad. After that, I want to come back to Japan.)

But, you should all also go to America. Come visit me in Minnesota.

豊郷町のこと、 豊日中学校のこと、あなたたちの友情をぜたい忘れません。(Toyosato town, Hojitsu Junior High, and all of your friendship, I surely won't forget.)

今はさよならじゃありません。いつか、どこか、会えます。その時までに、たいへんありがとございます。(Now isn't goodbye. Sometime, somewhere, we will meet again. Until that time, thank you very much.)

Thank you all very much. I had a wonderful time, and I will see you all later.

バイバイ (Bye bye).


Be gentle with me...

I feel like a little boy about to dip his toes in the water. I've been invited here but, like those odd moments when you're left alone in someone else's house, or, 'eck, even in their bedroom, it doesn't feel quite right. I feel like having a snoop about. Peeling back the edges of this whole Moichido Co-operative to find out what lurks in the cupboards, maybe trying on the pants... But then I feel the weight of Pik back in the room. He's just a few feet behind me. He's breathing down my neck. Just don't try anything funny...

Hayato, I know - via the medium of the world famous internet. I've read DanInJapan's inner thoughts on his blog. But, as yet, we're still to communicate directly. Does he know who I am? I guess he's about to find out.

Right now, this whole thing feels weird. I'm not used to Blogger for a start. It feels a whole lot more modern than the dreadful designed for geeks crimsonblog interface that I'm stuck with over at Killing Time.

I write this mere hours after returning from the Republic of Ireland. County Cork to be a bit more specific. It was my first visit. I expected Angela's Ashes, a lot of rain and potato famine hangover. The reality was a whole lot more dazzling. As ever, when e'er I move beyond my doorstep, I feel hideously ignorant about world matters, geography and history. And you can't change that on a 7 day trip. All I know is that the Irish are incredibly friendly folk, petrol's cheaper and Guinness tastes better. And that's something I'd guessed before I'd even turned the key in the ignition.

Interesting to read Dan's somewhat confessional entry. I especially liked the conclusion, the stuff about him standing in the middle. There must be something in the water these days. We're just six months away from a lengthy stay in New Zealand that will, in effect, also signal the end of my life as a full-time journalist. It's been a painful few years, career wise. I'm still not sure how I ever got into it. Being a hack just doesn't appeal, never appealed and isn't even a good way to earn the money to pay the bills. As a landmark birthday approaches, I stand on the brink of, once again, changing it all. From February I become a full-time writer. A real writer, not just a rearranger of press releases and garbled comments scribbled down in indecipherable Teeline shorthand. It's make or break time and there's no going back. That I live with a writer whom I love and who shares the same dreams will make the journey smoother, mentally, but a total nightmare, no doubt, financially. But sometimes, you have to give it your best shot lest you wake up an old man with the rain pouring down your back one day, wondering where it all went wrong. It won't go wrong though, not this time, I know it.

Anyway, hello everyone. It's nice to feel a part of something bigger than a computer on a desk and a tangled web of phone lines.



My first thought, seriously, was that the French were even more upset about the loss of the Olympics then we were led to believe. British sense of humour kicking in you see. Which is, I imagine, getting a lot of Londoners through today. And which is, I know, part of the reason why today's events will do very little indeed to panic the Smoke's population in the long term. London's been bombed for years and although anything like this is understandably tragic, getting over it and back to normal is inherent in the psyche of the city.

Besides, everybody sensed something like this was coming.

Will this now lead to an increase of lack of support for the war in Iraq (if it is, indeed, related) or will it be spun into a justification for yet more war? Who knows? And who knows what the families of the bombs dead victims - just trying to get to work, for fuck's sake - are thinking right now?

This has, curiously, made me homesick. I just want to be there now. To be another defiant citizen of London again, setting off for work tomorrow morning.


I can't contact some of you! Please, call, mail or comment or something, as soon as you reasonably can.



''Hello. I don't know whether I like you or not. So I can't be your girlfriend [anymore]. Sorry. 志穂美.'

Scrolling down on the mobile phone screen doesn't reveal the 'Thanks for everything.' or the 'Good luck.' I'd hoped for. Ah well.

Thanks, Shihomi, for writing your mail in English, it's honestly appreciated, but not half as much as I appreciate your telling me this after I bought you the iPod.

You haven't answered my return mail asking simply 'Why?' but that's OK. Perhaps I know. Maybe my thinking that you were almost the coolest girl ever was, I now realise, a bit intimidating. So, sorry.

Thanks for everything. Good luck.

P.S. The immense pile of dirty laundry over in the corner is no respecter of the broken heart string so I will attack it with vigour, after which I'll attempt to remove our print club stickers from my laptop lid. Then I'll go to my job as official taster of Family Mart beer. Keep busy, that's what they say isn't it?

P.P.S. London has the 2012 Olympics. I don't know why I'm telling you this.


"I can't speak English and I can't understand your English. I was tired a little. Sorry. Thank you. Bye"

And yeah, she wrote it in English.



NOTE: The plan is that Moichido will slowly become a communal blog. The list of contributors on the right there will hopefully continue to grow.
Dan is a good friend of mine living in Japan, but very soon he'll return to Minnesota. He's kindly agreed to start posting here - PIK

The rainy season has come to Shiga Prefecture, and with it, the date of my departure quickly approaches. Spring has changed to summer, and the coming of July means the ending of my contract. The time here has seemed so long, but yet it has gone so quickly. It would be fair to say that this has been the most eventful year of my life. I came here as little more than a college kid, traveled Japan, made a life for myself in my small little town where i am not just in the minority, i AM the minority. Went to Thailand, have to say that that was a little more adventure than pik and i needed. Came back to see spring come with the cherry blossoms.

So i guess i could say i have grown. Some people might say i have matured, or developed as a person. Living on my own, having something of a committed relationship, bills, and being an adult. I have had life-changing experiences, some good, some bad. Some people might say that.

But to be honest, i don't buy it. It just sounds like a high school commencement speech, and then like a college commencement speech. If there is one thing i have learned here, it's that just because you have a professional job where you wear (occasionally) a suit doesn't mean you have to start wearing spectacles and own a cane. I look at ALT's with a couple of extra years on me, and i see no differences. We live an interesting life here, trapped in a strange existence between being a member of the Japanese society, but yet always on the outside, always a little different. There isn't necessarily any need to grow up, and i question if there ever is one.

But soon this will come to an end. It is tough to sort out whether i think that is good, or bad, or just is. How do you measure your own country, culture, and life against the life i have been working so hard at building here? So many people who have affected my life, most of whom i will probably never speak to again, versus the comforts of home, and people who i haven't spoken to for some time?

Right now is the turning point - the time when the excitement of going home soon is being weighed against the things i am leaving behind. I guess, though, it doesn't matter what i think. Just as the rainy season came, it will end, and then too, my time here will be over.

My name's Dan. I am standing in the middle. One part is over, but not quite, while another part is beginning, but not quite. I look back on a year in Japan, and i look forward to......


Almost a year since I arrived in Japan, the products on the shelves at Family Mart have rotated back around and now I buy the products I bought when I first came here.

I'm eating an apple danish whilst the rain outside throws up lingering farts of mist and frenzied pods of mosquitoes.

Moths are grouping around the balcony light, which I leave on to give them a purpose.

Stood at the bus stop today, umbrella low over my head, I looked toward the mountains beyond the chicken farm, beyond Kusumi chugakkou. If you squint just right you can ignore the power cables and cell phone masts and see only the Japan you dreamt about. But that's silly. This is the Japan I dreamt about.

As rainwater pools in front of the apartment door and high school students cycle home past the park I gaze at the things surrounding me. I've got used to these things. A year ago the eyes were wide, the nostrils flared - for smells of foreign nature. That the surroundings are now accepted is both a blessing and a curse.

I know I love this place, and if I could talk in the way that it understands, I'd tell it.


Friday is now 'Photo Day'

Wakayama love hotels; an occasional series. No. 1: 'Angel's Birth' Hotel