Due to the
hospitality of Japan’s
International Cooperation Center (JICE) and my school, I was lucky enough to
spend time in Japan for
‘Kakehashi,’ a project aimed at strengthening foreign relations of other
countries with Japan.
Along with two teachers and twenty-two other students, I visited Tokyo, including Chiba
and Narita. We also spent time in IwatePrefecture, mainly in KujiCity,
near Northern coast of Japan.
While in Japan, I
learned a great deal about the nation’s current events and problems. While I
heard about the aging population epidemic (Japan has a large number of senior
citizens and a lower than normal birth rate, which endangers the future of its
population) and the demanding work life for employees in companies before I
went to Japan, I also learned more about their political parties, the
possibility of a new military force, class divisions, and notable economic
decline in the recent decades.
My personal reasons
for wanting to go to Japan
were mixed with pedagogical interests as well as personal ones. Along with
being a student and a teacher-in-training, I’m also a writer. I’ve been
intrigued by Japan
since I was a child, and I’ve written stories set in the country as well. With
the research I’ve done on Japan,
I’ve worked to make these specific stories as believable in dealing with
Japanese culture as possible, even as a speculative writer who mainly writes in
horror, science-fiction, and fantasy genres.
From Shion Sono films to Haruki Murakami’s novels, even to
the great Akira classic written and drawn by Otomo Katsuhiro, I’ve seen how
fictional authors from Japan have dealt with grave and important issues facing
Japan. Shion Sono touched on the suicide rate and cults in his classic movie Jisatsu Circle,
and the recently deceased Shigeru Mizuki, a WWII vet, challenged social and
political issues in his comic books, from Ge Ge Ge No Kitaro to more personal biographical works. Like any other country, Japan is filled
with its notable literary creators who investigate and question the world
around them in fictional narratives.
As a writer, I set
to do the same. From American social and political issues, to foreign dilemmas,
I craft stories that are fictional yet have connections to the world we inhabit
as human beings. I seek to question situations and understand problems, to
create dialogue that may inspire people to solve or at least acknowledge
problems. So far, with my Japan-based stories, that have explored technology,
organized crime, pop culture, subculture, music, social and sexual politics in
for the first time, and experiencing the beauty and complexity of this amazing
island nation first-hand, I’m inspired to craft more tales set in the land of
the rising sun. I want to explore the aging population, business, and military
debates of Japan
further, along with other issues facing the island nation.
Japan has stolen my heart, and I anticipate my return, in fiction and