Has urbanization had a positive effect on Japanese society?

Urbanization. The word reminds me of Tokyo, which is the capital of Japan. I had lived in Tokyo for 6 years from the beginning of my 20s to the middle of it, and the experience is one of the greatest experiences for me because I could feel and sense a lot of things every day. To a country boy who was born in Hokkaido’s rural city, everything seen in Tokyo was almost shocking. Simply, the amount of information was very different. You can say it is the difference of “cultural capital”. The moment when I first saw Shibuya(one of the busiest area in Tokyo), the words I hit upon at that time was, “Wow. I could finally make sense that everyone was here”.

I really owe Tokyo. Thanks to Tokyo, I could somehow understand how the Japanese world is made up and could realize the difference between rural areas and Tokyo areas. One of what I found out was that everyone, ultimately, is the same human being. Tokyoites and Hokkaidoers are the same, and of course, it is. Therefore, I was able to decide that I can graduate from Tokyo after 6 years of living. Due to this pandemic, ZOOM or digital transformation has been occurring, and the situation has been changing day by day. One thing that I can say is that it is an era that we can live where we want to live and do whatever we want to do. You can do anything which seems that you can only do in Tokyo in Hokkaido now thanks to the technologies. Therefore, there is no need for urbanization. Once you have a smartphone in your hand, you are urbanized and globalized at the same time.

My Simple Answer to Years-Long Bothering Question

Today, what I’d like to do is to write about a complicated question and my simple answer for which I’ve recently felt finding out. The question is what I’ve been thinking from my high schooler’s days. The days when I didn’t want to go to school because there seemed no specific reasons to go to school. Simply, boring, and it seemed to me that the school is one of the worst places ever to realize what is my dream or what do I want to be for my vast future.

The question was actually simple. “Who am I?”. Seriously, that’s the exact question from my 16 years old. Maybe it should be translated as “What do I want to do through my entire life”, or “What kind of person do I want to become”. Then, from the age to this day, the question became a kind of my underlying illness. This would not be praised or awarded though, I can say that I’ve been thinking about this question every day for almost 24 hours and 365 days. I often use exaggeration but not on this one. Seriously, it was like an illness, and if there were a kind of occupation that evaluates how long you can think about one damn boring question, I could be a professional.

The moment when I realize a simple answer was not sure though, I recently feel like this. The reason why I’ve been caring and minding about my unclear future so far so much is a kind of proof that I am a versatile person anyway. Please don’t misunderstand that I want to be an asshole. What I really want to say is the opposite.

There is a friend of mine who was a college mate. End of our college days, he had got a job offer from a company, and he got the job. However, within 3 months since he started the work, he suddenly resigned from the job because of not-interesting job content or stressful human relationship in his office. He then called and talked about what he had done over the phone, and my reaction was a bit surprising to him, I said, “I envy you. “

If I can love something or hate something so much, I can be something. That is what I had thought. However, I finally realize that I don’t have specific niche things that obsess me. And I think I should accept this personality at the age of 28. On the contrary, everything that I do now is what I should do in my life because I can do anything with the same passion.

For these 28 years, I’ve been pursuing to find an “ideal job”, which is the best job for me. But, now I notice that there is no such ideal job especially to me, and maybe what I’m doing now is what I should do in my life. By thinking this way, my mind became so clear that I want to challenge many things with a modest heart.

You don’t know when you die

Sorry for this shocking title, but nobody would understand this meaning more than today’s us. The most important lesson leant from this pandemic was there were literally no proof that we can live tomorrow like yesterday. In short, we finally realize that we have no idea of when we will be dead or the world ends. I’m not supposed to make you scary but rather I want to see the bright side of this lesson today.

People often say and be told that you should do what you want to do. But, how many people can live like this? For instance, you want to have a piano in your tiny room, but you can’t buy it right now because you have not enough money to buy, and there is not enough room to put the piano. However, the COVID19 told us that even there are such a hard situation, you should buy and put it in your tiny room because you can be dead tomorrow. It sounds a bit extreme argument though, I recently really think like this way. Let’s do things that you’ve wanted to do right now! Then, you can lose your “perfect timing” forever. So, why don’t you start writing your fiction, or tell somebody love you, and somehow buy a cheap piano? There is always a way after all.

Personally, I think I need to work harder, and want to write a great novel, and practice the piano, and want to read tons of interesting books, and want to hang out with my precious friends, and want to say I love you from the bottom of my heart. Now I finally found that I have so so many thing to do in my life, in this short moments. I don’t want to spoil my precious time but actually if I try to tackle with all these things at once, I could easily get down. Therefore, the wisest way which seemed to me so now, is just keep trying everyday. It’s like accumulating a sheet of paper one by one everyday. But hopefully, someday I can see a beautiful scene standing on the papers.

Editorial: Everyone forced to dream with “priceless” moments/ What “Demon Slayer: Infinity Train” tries to describe in today’s society

Speaking of “Damon slayer”, which became a huge hit in last year in Japan due to the mega hit of its movie title, the movie has just aired on TV yesterday and people went crazy watching the movie as No.1 grossing movie ever in Japan. Here is an article of what I wrote when I watched the movie for the first time.

Anyhow, it became such a huge hit in Today’s Japanese society, and that means there must be huge attractive, unconscious problem arousal factors in the movie. Masterpiece can describe our hidden unconscious desire or problems, and through watching fiction, we can sometimes see the truth. That is the beauty of watching or reading fictional story. When you see a movie and find something strange, that noticing would be a key for opening the door to a truth hidden in the story.

The curious thing with watching the movie was a kind of main demon character “Genmu”. He can make people dream with his magic, and let people dream really sweet dream, and during they are dreaming, Genmu can eat people. In this movie, he use some kids to cooperate with his strategy and try to eat as many people in the train as possible.

Then, this story reminds me of a thought. I sometime feel I’m forced to dream. In this time, dream means feel satisfied or like that. In today’s society, people can easily satisfied with free contents, like youtube, google, facebook, maybe some sexual contents or anything else. You can enjoy your daily life with your smartphone and it’s super easy way to satisfy yourself. Then, you feel you are satisfied with your life that easily. But, this is, it’s a bit difficult to describe though, not a healthy way. It’s like when you are hungry, you are forced to eat snacks and fill your stomach. Although you had something, but you don’t eat the real cooked food.

You feel you want to create your own unique original splendid life but what you are doing is sometimes just watching YouTube or Facebook or endless reel of TikTok or Instagram. It’s super apparent that you cannot be anything by such an “priceless” actions. If you really want to be something and dream it with healthy way, you need to face your own reality and cost something. I mean, you need to risk your life. It’s difficult that I don’t say all free contents are evil, but it can collapse your life.

Therefore, in the movie, the protagonist Tanjiro try to kill himself to awake from the dream. It’s such a symbolic scene. You feel you can lose anything but he does. He risked himself. And he wake up and realize the true harsh reality.

Maybe we are living in a world where we can dream easily in many ways. However, I feel like this film tells us that we need to dream in a decent way.

What is Saturday to you?

It’s Saturday. Truly the happiest day through a week because you can never feel more freedom and possibility for the rest of your life on this day. Sunday is a bit tricky. It seems that you can do anything but the Monday comes right before you. That means, you feel like you need to prepare something for Monday, and sometimes you even find yourself worried to welcome Monday. How awful it is. Why am I so afraid of going to Monday? But, the most of people can understand what I’m feeling right now. I somehow like my job, my current situation, but, Sunday seems pretty dull.

Next to Saturday, my favorite day is Friday because you can do anything compared to the other days. However, we Japanese high school teachers have a tricky problem that is that we have a club activity on Saturday. I mean, I need to be a coach of a club activity from 8 am to 12 on the day. That is really tricky. Why I say it’s tricky because it sometimes felt really fun to be in a school office on Saturday morning till noon and enjoy activity with students, but, sometimes I suddenly feels like am I doing right? Am I losing a precious moment for my life? or like that.

Being a teacher itself is tricky now I think. If you really love talking or interacting with students, this job is super attractive for you guys, but like me who are not that good at staying with students for long time, I’m always wondering if I could do better to deal with or talk with adults than children. Do I really want to keep doing this job? Should I change a job after 1 or 2 year after making my homeroom students graduated? That kind of things are what I think of recently. And then, I find Saturday is somehow also a tricky day.

Will the restriction will continue indefinitely? I don’t think so.

The days we wear mask became so ordinary that we sometimes afraid of wearing masks for good especially here in Japan as strong peer-pressured country. We wear masks like an oxygen cylinder in the deep ocean. Sometimes wondering if I don’t wear masks and try to enter a supermarket, what would be the people’s reactions to me? Everyone must think I’m a terrorist or like that. I didn’t know that the world or common sense can be turned around that easily. Before this pandemic, the most of the Japanese teachers thought that the color of mask must be white. But, now, who cares?

One of my Tokyo friend once grumbled that they have experienced non-emergency declaration time only for several weeks so far this year. Crazy right? So, now, we all think like “will the restriction will continue indefinitely?”or like that. I mean, what do you think about?

The last thing I felt would continue almost forever was the high school days. That days was so boring that I totally lost the meaning of why should I keep going this building. It was because everything was measured by the test score at that time. You make a higher score, teachers would love you more than students who got lower score. Bullshit. I don’t know why but maybe that would be definitely a main reason why I’m doing high school teacher now. People can’t be measured by only test score, and I don’t want to be such an ass hole teachers. I wanted to be a teacher who doesn’t feel or look like a teacher.

Anyway, sorry for going off the track. The point is, I felt that the boring school life would continue forever, but actually that was not continued that long. In fact, it lasted just for 3 years. Looking back the time, now I think of many things. The dark memories and happy memories of that time somehow made a huge impact for my life. If I try to look a bright side of things, I would thank the shitty high school days which lasted just for 3 years. I felt 3 years like 30 years at time though.

In short, I feel the same thing in this wired era. We can do many things in this depressing days. Somebody would even miss this days after the pandemic in terms of no drinking party or easiness of working from home. So, why don’t we look at the bright side? Let’s practice piano. Let’s write a novel. Let’s nourish your true love. I’m sure we will even miss this days someday soon in the future.

So, I bought a Tin Whistle

A famous Japanese TV drama series “Roosevelt Game” was on air in 2014

There was a sound I have been fell in love with for long long years. Hearing the sound many times but I had no idea what the instrument is. Sometimes, sound is the most difficult thing to explain. In terms of that, I am seriously admiring people who invented and brushed up a musical score. Anyway, The video clip is a track from a TV drama series, and from 0:27, there comes the sound. Sounds like flute or something, but it sounds more like a clear, more transparent sound as if you are breathing air in heaven or top of a great mountain. The sound have caught my heart since I was young.

And now, I became 28 and I suddenly realized that now I can ask my college of musical teacher about the sound. Then, at an office, I talked her to listen the song and begged her to teach me what the instrument is. She listened the part many times, and thinking, and searching on the Google and after 7 min., she told me that “Maybe it is Tin Whistle, I guess”. “Tin Whistle”. Is that the name of the spiritual transparent sound maker? I was so excited that I suddenly checked it on youtube and then I got goosebump. This is the sound I was looking for. I felt as if I could meet my 100% girlfriend (@HarukiMurakami).

This is the sound, man. How beautiful sound it is.

Then, I found myself searching Tin Whistle on Amazon, and I clicked it. It was about $20. Not that expensive, eh?

Today, the whistle arrived a my house, and I played a bit. Such a heart fulfilling moment. I felt I could become a Celtic Woman although I am a man.

Anyhow, There was an explanation about the Tin Whistle. It seems so lovely that let me type it down and share the whole sentences here.

The melodies and lyrics of the music of the Celtic nations reflect their lives and their history. In their music can be found nostalgia for their loves and hates; the battles and victories; the beauty of their countryside and their longing for it when they have to leave it; the fun and joy of their comic outlook of life – birth, marriage and death; as well as the ideal accompaniment for a vast array of dances. One cannot hear a slow air played with depth of feeling on a tinwhistle by a true Celt without being drawn into, and sharing, th emotions expressed by the player.

Each of the Celtic nations has its own instrumental tradition and each claims their right to specific instruments. The Scots will assert that the bagpipes are their national property; the Welsh, the harp. The Irish claim the Uilleann pipes as their own as do, indeed, the Bretons claim the cornemuse. One instrument, played by all, and adopted by all is the tinwhistle.

When Robert Clarke invented Tinwhistle in 1843, little did he know that it would become the perfect wind instrument to be played universally in all the Celtic lands. It can be heard in concert halls, broadcasts, churches and above all, especially Ireland, in the pubs. It is easy to learn to play; inexpensive; and can be conveniently carried so as to be available for performances on all occasions.

Now, I’m starting from here. Thanks for reading!

What I realized when I asked an elementary student “What do you want now?” in Cambodia

Traveling around the world is a dream everyone dreamt once in a life, and I am still dreaming about it every single day. If I had enough money, if I had enough time, if the coronavirus passed away, … Every such boring excuses hinder you not to try (especially these days for me). We do know such excuses are not a real excuse, and we do know it’s totally depends on our seriousness to achieve that goal. Today, I’d like to give you an inspiration by sharing a story with you. A story about a girl in Cambodia.

One-a-day, I was walking and wondering if I could travel abroad with my precious friends someday in my college days. I wanted to travel to the U.S. , Russia, England, Germany, or everywhere except Japan. Japan seems nice country though, we are pretty much boring living in Japan. On one level, Japanese looks pretty neat, but on another level, it is just boring, peer pressured, stupid obscene anime characters everywhere, super aging society to me (some younger generation).

Then, one of my university friend talked me in a classroom, “Tomoharu, are you interested in traveling abroad during this coming Spring vacation with me?”, then I was getting excited and said “Wow. Really? It’s such an honer to be asked. Sure! But, where are we going?” Then he said “I’m wondering Vietnam or Cambodia, such rising, energetic country I want to travel as a backpacker!”. Backpacker was a dazzling word for such nobody college students in my days (maybe still?). Then I totally accepted his request. And lastly, we invited two girls taking a same lecture with us were going to Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore for 2 weeks as a backpacker.

We tried hard to have a precious and rare experiences in there, so we somehow applied visiting to an elementary school in Cambodia through a Japanese NGO. I remember the day clear like yesterday. There were about 100 students at the school, and to them, most surprisingly, the first foreigner for them was us. Therefore we were so nervous for being their first foreigners. They were actually really cute and they have the most dazzling smiles I have ever seen. Then I though like, wow, any media tell Cambodia as a very poor and surviving and unhappy country though, they ARE actually very happy to me.

Education matters. I have never seen such beautiful smiles.

We attended a class, and a woman introduced us as a Japanese. Children welcomed really hard by singing their welcome song, and we tried to sing a very famous song to return for their gratitudes.

After a while, the woman gave us a chance to ask anything to the students. I was very excited to know a thing, so I asked “What do you want now?” before about 40 students. Then, almost everyone in the classroom raise their hands and tried to be chosen as an answerer. So, I chose a girl just in front of me with smile, and I said, “What do you want now?” with my smiling. Then she said something not in English, and then the woman translated to us and said “It’s knowledge”.

I got goosebumps by listening the answer. I was totally shocked and felt defeated, because I was thinking their answers would be “toys” or “money” or something like that. But the girl, who seems just 6 or 7 years old, said without hesitation but with clear eyes, she said “Knowledge” to us. I really, really felt bad at the time because I realized how stupid I am. I live in Japan and can study at elementary school to university as normal thing, and have never experienced war or famine or serious lack of basic knowledge. Library or schools seems pretty natural existence and I felt even boring for it. But for her, it was not natural.

Then I thought I have been wrong. Everyone seems that they easily throw dreams away very easily even they are really rich in getting opportunity these days in Japan. The situation surrounding the children are really sever (they don’t have enough books and teachers to study), nevertheless, every student before me at that time had specific dreams like to be a doctor, teacher or scholar or etc. Then I asked to myself, what the heck am I doing with anger. I strongly thought, if I can’t find and achieve my dream with blessed environments, who can do that? The role of me at that time should be telling how great to have dreams and achieve it. But then I couldn’t.

After coming back to Japan, every-time I feel fear for dream or becoming lazy to achieve a goal, I try to remember the girl with so clear eyes. And not only me, you can do something to change tomorrow. Let’s throw excuses away, and have a clear eyes to the future like her.

Thank you very much for reading. Traveling is learning.

5 Questions to Know Me

Everyday give yourself a present. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Everyday, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the Men’s store. A catnap in your office chair. Or two cups of good, hot black coffee.

Good-evening everyone. I am a fan of Austin Kleon‘s (a writer who draws) blog, and he posted a short article on the clip . “Everyday give yourself a present”. What a groovy tip for us. Sometimes I felt like pretty disappointed when I check my credit card bill on my app, for I realized that I have received too much presents from Amazon (When I lived in Tokyo as a university student, I literary spent about $10,000 in a year mainly for buying books and good toothpastes. How awful it was. Now I left Amazon at all. A bit sad, actually.).

So, tonight, I’d like to give myself a bit of gift, which is “easy blog topic”. Since I’m trying to keep writing everyday, sometimes you can’t hit upon any ideas with what you should write about. Thus, just answering self introduction question is such an easy entry for me to blog. I really understand there are almost nobody who can get any profit from this article, I wish you could somehow enjoy this article.

1. Who is your hero?

My hero is Conan O’Brien, and Kurt Vonnegut. I think those who can make us laugh the most know the worst despair. Comedy or Irony is a kind of desperate and risky way to overcome their difficulty or hardship. In terms of that, I’m so proud of them and I want to be a person like them. They are my life savers at the same time.

2. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

My first overseas trip was to New York when I was 18 years old to attend a kind of summer school in Tarry Town (the language school was EF) for 3 weeks. There was a huge story concerning on this topic though, anyway, that actually changed my life. Every scenery I see walking in street in N.Y. looks like an enormous movie set, and I suddenly fell in love with the city. Of course, my impression would have been changed after about this 10 years though, I frequently wonder if I could live in the NYC. But I have no idea what am I doing in N.Y.

3. What is your biggest fear?

To be honest I don’t care about my life so much. I mean, my mother seems to do care my life. She is always wondering my life plan or place to live or something like that, and briefly, my life was built on a story fighting with my mom to get a controller of my life so far. Anyway, I am 27 years old now. So, my biggest fear is a kind of situation that my life be controlled by somebody else. There is an interesting episode. Do you know why sometimes you feel like vomiting (carsick) riding in a car? That’s because you are not driving the car. I think it is a metaphor of our life.

4. What is your favorite family vacation?

“Onsen” (hot spring) would be one of a major destination of the most Japanese family vacation, and I do love Onsen as much as New York. (入浴: New-Yoku means to take a bath in Japanese. I’m so embarrassed explaining this.)

Once you take open-air hot spring/ onsen bath, you are in golden balance

5. What would you change about yourself if you could?

From when I was around 15 years old, I was almost everyday struggling about my ideal life or personality or dream I want to pursuit till today. I don’t know why I am so sensitive about my feelings or trivial matters in my daily life. I actually pretend to be a generous person who seems never care trivial things at all in my office though, true me is such a sensitive person who can decide anything easily. Maybe I shouldn’t blame such myself but admit. So, I think I want to change my such negative view of my character to the positive one.

Thank you very much for coming with me here. I hope I could present you a kind of inspiration for something. Have a great day/night.


Dear Ashley (a friend who lives in Turkey)

This below is a personal letter writing for one of my foreign friend Ashely who lives in Turkey now. We met on Facebook 7 years ago, and we were a kind of pen-pal at that time. We used to send and receive air-snail-mails. And somehow we haven’t heard each other for 7 years, but we accidentally met again on Facebook this year (I deactivated my previous account 3 years ago for no reason). Anyway, please enjoy the letter as a kind of my self introduction, maybe.
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Dear Ashley

Long long time no see Ashley. I heard that you had just come back to Turkey these days. I’m really relieved hearing that because there were a serious political issue around that time, and now, we are in a global pandemic of COVID-19.

How are you seriously. I became 27 years old now, and I currently live in the northern part of Japan, which is called Hokkaido, where I was born. I live in the very countryside of Hokkaido (like the most places in Hokkaido) called Saroma. The population of Saroma is about 7,000 and interestingly, the number of dairy cattle is about 14,000. Yes. The animal population is higher than people here.

And what am I doing in here? I became a high school English teacher now. Are you surprised? You must be. Because I’m surprised at too. Actually, I had no idea to be an English teacher so far. But I’m enjoying this job anyway (However, I’m always wondering if I could go and live in some other countries. I sometimes really wish if I could live like a world traveler).

I’m still a beginner teacher in a small high school. I struggle with teaching almost everyday, and now I finally found that it actually is really difficult thing to teach something. Learning English in Japan is such a difficult thing because anything is translated immediately in this country. Movies, TV dramas, Music, you can name it. Since Japan hasn’t much diversity race (especially in the country side), people really hesitate to speak some foreign languages and feel shy. So, students are also seems shy to learn English, but I’m trying to let them feel easier to learn English everyday.

The first time we met was when I was a university student in Tokyo (I forgot my age at the time). You sent me a letter with absolutely beautiful hand-drawing sketches. You have such a talent of drawing. So, if you still drawing, I really want you to send me some piece of your art. I will definitely put it in the frame and hang on the wall of my room.

By the way, I still have a dream to live in the US someday. So, it is a kind of working-holiday in Hokkaido for me, I’m saving money to go out from Japan someday. What kind of dreams do you have these days? I would really like to hear your dream and recent situation.

Above all, there are so many things to tell you about my history for this 5 to 7 years. So, just communicate through this analog letter, OK? I seriously love this format of communication. It takes time, but that makes our communication more precious one. Please send back to my address below even if you take a year to send me.

Thank you so much for being friend with me, and keep in touch.
I’m hoping you are doing fine and spending good life from Japan.

Tomoharu Watanabe

Thank you for reading and have a good night.
P.S. Have a good dream with this song…

Not Exactly Paris