Monday, May 14, 2012

Stonewall AJET Block 3 MAY 2012 Update

Hello my Fellow Block 3bies! How are you doing? I hope everyone's enjoying the wonderful temperatures and having lots of opportunities to go out during these lovely spring days.

New Stonewall Members 

Since there were quite a few new members who have signed up after Tokyo Rainbow Pride.

Block  3 is composed of the following prefectures: Chiba (1), Tokyo (15), Kanagawa (2), Yamanashi(1), Shizuoka(9), Ibaraki(5), Saitama(7) The number beside your prefecture is how many of you are there.There are 6 blocks in Japan. Block 3 has the 2nd most amount of people in it. There are 43 of us living in these 7 prefectures. I want to make a group list so you guys can contact each other, but I need your permission. Stonewall takes privacy very seriously [which is why the Facebook group is closed], and why I BCC these emails to you, rather than CC. If you like to be added to the group list, please respond. Those 6 of you who have already done it in the last email, no worries, you're already on it.

Stonewall is a non-exclusive, non-judgmental, network and community of support for ALTs and others desiring an outlet for sexual expression in a very closeted Japan. Stonewall is open to ANYONE regardless of sexual orientation, gender, nationality, occupation.

Feel free to invite your queer and queer friendly friends interested. We'd love for more Japanese to join our group, as they often have great advice and perspective on what's going on. Stonewall uses the FACEBOOK PAGE, MONTHLY MAILINGS, and EVENTS, AND SKYPE MEETINGS to get together and ask for and offer support. Feel free to post on any topic you'd like and ask for advice on any of these forums. If there's something specifically that you'd like to discuss, send me an email and I'll throw the topic up on the Facebook page or schedule a skype event. Just feel free to ask questions and get involved whenever you have time.

Twitter no doubt has big power in spreading messages. For example in this article , one lesbian tweeted about how TOKYO DISNEYLAND denied her and her partner to hold a wedding ceremony in Cinderella's castle, a privilege that straight people could have if they paid the fee. After tweeting about it, the news spread, created controversy and TOKYO DISNEYLAND changed their policy and allowed this same sex wedding ceremonies. The POWER of TWITTER!!!!! Stonewall's name is @stonewalljapan

Recent Block 3 Events

These past couple of weeks have been jammed packed with LGBT events. If you'd like to see some photos I took from TRP and DWE, click here.

Tokyo Rainbow Pride at Yoyogi Park on April 29th, 2012

For those of you who couldn't make it, it was a perfect sunny day and the mood was very happy around Yoyogi park and Harajuku streets where we marched. Almost everyone was sporting rainbow attire or crazy costumes. It was pretty successful in that it had higher numbers of attendants that previous prides recently. The official number given by the Tokyo Rainbow Pride organizers were 4500 people. Much thanks to those of you who approached the INTERNATIONAL INFORMATION BOOTH powered by Stonewall AJET as well as those of you who volunteered in it. The leadership hopes that they could answer any questions that you had about Pride, after-events or LGBT life in Japan.


Stonewall's NYAN cat float



Dyke Weekend 2012 at Saitama Women's Center from May 4-6, 2012 About 40 women gathered together in the countryside of MusashiRanzan station in Saitama ken. We enjoyed workshops on art visualization, dreams, massage, reiki, yoga, a hug version of Rugby [Hugby], a BIG Barbecue by the river, and 2 nights of late night after-parties with various games. It was a 3 day weekend of chilled out fun for ladies.

Box Social in Nakano, Minamidai [Weekly Wednesday Cafe Get-togethers [7pm-1am] A LGBT Wednesday night box social which happens weekly had it's debut on May 9th, 2012. Modeled after the Wednesday night International Lesbian bar, Chestnut and Squirrel, in Shibuya which closed in 2010, it is open to all spectrums of the LGBT rainbow who wish to enjoy "hump day" together. The nearest station is NakanoFujimiCho station on the Marunouchi line [the red metro line which runs to Shinjuku Sanchome], near Nichome gaytown. Feel free to add yourself to the ever-present Facebook Event Page. And for a map to the JUNK COFFEE All drinks are only 500 yen and there is outdoor seating at a picnic table in the front of the shop. There's also yummy niblets there as well.


Events Besides Bars and Clubs Feel free to invite some Stonewall members along, if you'd like some company to one of these events in and around Tokyo.

Takarazuka These stage shows feature all women casts who play both the male and female roles. You can find out more about what play or musical is out by clicking here. This month it's Don Carlos. 

SUMO This is the last weekend in May for SUMO. It'll be back in July and September. You can get more information here.

Minato Mirai Ride a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, play in arcades, go shopping, take a boat ride around Yokohama bay then off for a fancy spa bath, which has Dr. Fish, a foot treatment where small fish eat the dead skin from feet. A day you won't forget, I'm sure. Minato Mirai is a great place to visit with a group of friends, or take a date, or take someone sightseeing. There's so much all in one place.

Summer Sonic Fuji Rock Festival 
FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2012


Bar/Club Events 


WOMEN 
May 12th La Nina http://lanina.04-01.jp/
May 19th Goldfinger http://www.goldfingerparty.com/top.html
June 1st Diamond Cutter http://diamondcutter.jp/index_pc.html
May 26th Grand Panache http://grand-panache.fem.jp/index.shtml


MEN

MAY 19th DANCE DANCE DANCE http://www.warehouse702.com/sche/201205/20120519.php May 26th THE RING http://www.warehouse702.com/sche/201205/20120526.php
June 02 [Not Gay but cool nonetheless] http://www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?338759
The Gay Afterparty http://www.warehouse702.com/sche/201206/20120602.php 


Miscellaneous News 

Cool Biz is starting early this year http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nb20120502a2.html

News on Gaijin Cards http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120429a2.html

Tokyo will get to see an eclipse http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120504f2.html

Spring Recipes 


Takenoko 竹の子, Bamboo Rice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_WrQF_qVk8 Bamboo is now in season, this is a traditional recipe for the season


Umeshuu 梅酒、Plum "wine" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlBNdRKNhJI
Once Rainy season starts, you might see the ingredients for Umeshu in the supermarket. If you'd like to make your own Umeshu, here's a recipe.










 ENJOY May....

Monday, April 30, 2012

2012年 開催されるゲイパレードは2つ

Tokyo gets double dose of gay pride for 2012
LGBT community deserves to be spoilt for choice after a parade-free 2011

2012年 開催されるゲイパレードは2つ パレードが開催されなかった2011年の反動でLGBTコミュニティーの活動はさらに活発に トビー・シグエンザ 著 レズビアンやゲイ、バイセクシャル、トランスジェンダーのコミュニティー(LGBT)にとって、ゲイパレードの目的とは、同性愛者の多様性(ダイバーシティー)や、より寛容な受け入れ体制を社会に訴えるような啓蒙活動に限ったことではない。

サポーターの数をさらに増やしたり、パレードに参加して思いっきり楽しんだりすることも目的のひとつだ。世界各国で開催されているゲイパレードでよく目にするのは、LGBTやサポーター達が、煌びやかな衣装を身に着け、豪華に飾った山車を先頭に、街をダンスしながら練り歩き、同性愛や仲間との一体感、ゲイカルチャーを誇らしげに披露している光景ではないだろうか(いわゆる英語の「Pride」)。 これまでと同様、開催地は東京。

違うのは、4月29日の東京レインボーパレード(TRP)と8月11日の東京プライド(TP)の2つが開催されることだ。 当然のことながら、2つのゲイパレードの開催を巡って、LGBTとサポーター達の間で混乱が生じ、数多くの質問や問い合わせが殺到している。たとえば、「東京プライドと東京レインボープライドの違いは何?」、「どうしてパレードが二つもあるの?」、また、LGBTからは「パレードはひとつで充分なのでは?」という意見も寄せられている。 このような疑問を解決するためにも、波乱に満ちていた短い歴史を振り返ってみたい。

1994年、日本で初めての東京レズビアン&ゲイパレード(TL&GP)が、国際レズビアン・ゲイ・バイセクシュアル・トランス・アンド・インターセックス協会(ILGA)の主催で開催された。その後の2年間、このパレードは数多くのメディアの注目を集め、パレードへの参加者も3千人を超えるほどに成長した。 . しかし、主催者同士でパレードについての論争が巻き起こり、その後の数年間は活動を停止せざるを得なかった。

やがて、2004年にTL&Gパレードはようやくカムバックを果たし、それまで以上の参加者数を集めることに成功し、パレードは2006年まで開催されていた。しかし、安心しているのも束の間、ある特定の同性愛者達が、自分達の存在が無視されているという理由で、主催者間の論争が再開してしまったのだ。 2007年には東京プライドパレードという名目で再起を果たしたものの、その翌年、パレードは突然中止されてしまった。以来、2010年までパレードは開催されず、2011年もぽっかり穴が開いたまま過ぎてしまった。 このままではプライドパレードが復活するチャンスを逃してしまう、とTRP主催者は再び集結した。2011年5月にTPの主催者に問い合わせてみると、翌年の8月にパレードを開催したいとのことだった。

当時の様子について、4月29日開催予定のTRPの主催者である乾宏輝(いぬい ひろてる)さんに聞いて見た。「TRPの主催者は、2012年夏のパレードの開催について、明確な回答を出せませんでした。」 一方、2011年からTPの主催を担当している門戸大輔(もんこ だいすけ)さんは、少し違った見解があるようだ。「パレード主催の運営委員会長に任命されたのですが、他の候補者が現れて、自分達のサポーターを集めてパレードを開催したいと言ってきたのです。

僕としても、誰がパレードを開催しようと自由だと思っていたので、特に気にはしていませんでした。ただ、別なパレードを開催するのであれば、混乱を避けるためにも名称を変えて欲しいとTRPにお願いしました。しかし、残念ながら、僕の願いは聞き入れてもらえませんでした。」 パレード実現のために多大な時間と労力を注いできた主催者達の動機や熱意について理解を深めるためにも、彼らの持つ哲学や今後の目標などについてもう少し注目してみよう。 *** 東京プライド(TP) コミュニティーをベースとしたNPO団体で、LGBTの人権保護と、対話を通して社会に変化を訴えかける活動をしている。セクシャルマイノリティー(同性愛者)に対する偏見や差別を少しでも無くし、LGBTにとって、よりフレンドリーな社会を作ることを目的としている。

 門戸さんは、「東京プライドは、同性愛者の問題は人権問題であることを社会に訴えたいのです。厚労省と東京都議会は、僕達の健康について気遣ってはくれているようですが、僕達の人権に関しては支持してもらえていません。少なくとも今は・・。

これこそが僕の今年の最優先のミッションなのです。」と語った。 最近のTPの主な活動は、昨年6月、ヒューマン・ライツ・ウォッチ(HRW)と特別非営利活動法人アフリカ日本協議会(AJF)の人道主義団体との協賛で、在日ウガンダ大使館の公使と意見交換会を開催したことだ。この意見交換で三団体は、ウガンダにおけるLGBTの人権侵害やウガンダ刑法に基づいた同性愛の犯罪化に対する懸念、ウガンダ国会で検討されていた反同性愛法案、そして、同国で同性愛者の人権活動家として著名なデビッド・カトー氏の殺害事件についても指摘した。また、同国のLGBTの人権保護、反同性愛法案の再検討、カトー氏の殺害事件への公正な判断を公的に要請した。

TPの活動家はこれまで、同性愛者やLGBTコミュニティーの支援活動を通じて、社会に多大な貢献をしている。東京プライドパレードは活動の一環として開催され、人権についての真摯なメッセージを日本の社会に訴えかけることが大きな目的となっている。 TPが団体としての社会運動を確立しはじめ、活動を維持するために積み上げられてきた努力は計り知れない。特に慎重に対応していることとして、TPの活動を働きかける組織の選定をはじめ、どんな決定を下すべきなのか、国内・海外のメディアに対してどんなメッセージを発信すべきなのか、などがある。 このように、TPはしっかりと筋の通ったカルチャーとビジョンの下、実に多くのことを達成してきた。しかし、その一方で、若手のボランティアや主催者、「プライド」の持つ意味を違った観点から捉えている人達はどうしても敬遠されてしまう傾向にあるようだ。

まさに、この敬遠されながらも同じ考えを共有する人達同士が集結して結成されたのが、東京レインボープライド(TRP)だ。 *** 東京レインボープライド 2011年5月に設立。TRPの草の根哲学は、LGBTQ(レズビアン、ゲイ、バイセクシャル、トランスジェンダー、クィア)を含む同性愛者の多様性にフォーカスし、展開している。団体名は、ゲイカルチャーのシンボルである6色レインボーにちなんで「東京レインボープライド」と名付けられた。 この団体の目的は、「LGBTの権利は人権と同様」というメッセージを社会に広めることにあるが、それを実現するには、持続性のあるイベントを定期的に開催し、開催する度に参加者を増やしていくことが必須だ。東京の街を海外にあるようなゲイフレンドリーな街にしていくことが最終的なゴール。 

「ダイナミックなアピールをするためにはパレードがもう一つ必要だと思ったんです。たったひとつのパレードを毎年開催していても、もっと良いプライド(マーチ)にしたいとは思わないでしょう。健全に競争することも大切だと思っています。」とTRPのマーケティング担当である乾さんが説明してくれた。 TRP主催者は、多様化したLGBTコミュニティーの団結力を維持するためには、なんらかの対策が必要だと強く感じている。今考えているのは、主催者とボランティアの全員が企画の段階から参加して、意見を出し合いながら皆が納得できるプライドイベントを作り上げて行くというアイデアだ。

 団結力を追求するがゆえに生じたパレードの分裂の皮肉さを感じている20代~30代の主催者達。彼らが日頃TRPに願っていることは、日本独特の縦社会をなくし、皆が同じ歩調で企画から実現までの道のりを歩めるような横社会へと変えることだと言う。 定期的なパレードの開催に向けて、TRPはこの一年の月日を資金集めや準備のための「ビルドアップ・イベント」を開催し、将来のパレードを主催する新人の教育に費やしてきた。 TRPが結成された2011年5月以来、10回の「カウントダウン・パーティー」を開催し、資金集めやボランティアとの顔合わせを兼ねて、今年のパレードの企画を進めてきた。 

今年、東京で開催される2つのパレードには、それぞれのビジョンやゴールに対する強い信念が感じられる。しかし、なかには、LGBTコミュニティーの分裂を象徴するように、パレードを2つも開催する必要はあるのかという疑問を抱く人もいれば、単にゲイイベントが増えたことを歓迎し、パレードが開催されなくとも、デカダンなパーティーを楽しめれば満足という人もいて、考え方は人それぞれだ。 早稲田大学の英国人留学生ローレン・アンダーソンは「私も含め、ボランティア活動に参加してくれる人は沢山いますが、ぜひ両方のパレード運営に協力してもらえれば嬉しいです。」と言う。

アンダーソンさんは、当初、TRPのフライヤーを配布するボランティアメンバーとして活動に参加。その後、1か月が経った頃には海外メディアに向けたPR担当と英文ウェブサイトの作成に携わるようになっていた。

 TRP運営委員会代表の葛城佳世さんは、「今年は特に大きな問題を起こすこともなく、パレードが2つも開催されることになりましたが、LGBTコミュニティーは国内で既にあらゆる困難に直面しているのが現状です。今年は皆さんにぜひ両方のパレードを楽しんでもらい、両方を比較して欲しいと思います。これをきっかけに、日本の社会が少しでも変わってくれればと願っています。」と語った。


Tokyo gets double dose of gay pride for 2012

Tokyo gets double dose of gay pride for 2012 
LGBT community deserves to be spoilt for choice after a parade-free 2011

 By TOBY SIGUENZA

       For the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, gay pride parades are not only a great means to raise awareness of LGBT issues and spread the message of diversity and acceptance, but also a much-needed excuse to gather supporters together and party down. At such events in hundreds of cities around the world, LGBT people and their supporters march and dance down the streets behind lavish floats, dress in elaborate costumes, celebrating love, togetherness and, of course, pride for their culture.

Tokyo is no different, except for the fact that this year it will be hosting two pride events: Tokyo Rainbow Pride (TRP) on April 29 and Tokyo Pride on August 11.

Understandably, the presence of two gay prides this year has caused some confusion among supporters of LGBT activities, begging a host of questions. Among them: What are the differences between Tokyo Pride and Tokyo Rainbow Pride? How did there come to be two parades scheduled this year? And, the big question on the lips of many LGBT people: Does Tokyo really need another pride march?

To begin to tackle these questions, it's important to put this year's events in the context of the short, checkered history of gay pride marches in Tokyo.

In 1994, Tokyo Lesbian & Gay Parade (TL&GP), the first gay pride event in Japan, was organized by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Japan. For the next couple of years, organizers succeeded in garnering a fair amount of media attention, and the parades attracted over 3,000 attendees.

However, due to disputes among the organizers, the next few years' events were barely promoted. From 2004 to 2006, the TL&G parade made a comeback and chalked up some respectable participant numbers, only to then again get bogged down in internal discord over accusations from certain sexual minorities that they were being ignored.

In 2007, the name was changed to Tokyo Pride Parade. The following year, planning was abruptly halted, and the city did not host another parade until 2010, only to experience another gap in 2011.

Determined not to let another year go by without a pride parade, TRP organizers say they contacted the Tokyo Pride organizers in May 2011 to ask whether they were planning to hold their event on the usual date in early August the following year. "

At that time, Tokyo Rainbow Pride organizers were unable to give a definite answer as to whether they'd be organizing an event in the summer of 2012," explains Hiroteru Inui, one of the organizers of Sunday's TRP parade.

Daisuke Monko, the Tokyo Pride Parade organizer since 2011, has a slightly different take on the story.

 "I was elected to the chair position, but another candidate and his people wanted to control the parade by themselves," he says. "My opinion is that anybody can hold a parade, and that's OK. I asked (TRP) to change their name because it is confusing, but they disregarded my request."

To more clearly understand the organizers' motivation for dedicating their time, resources and passion to these pride events, let's take a closer look at their philosophies and long-term goals.


Tokyo Pride

Tokyo Pride is a community-based nonprofit organization committed to protecting the rights of LGBT people and organizing community activities for creating dialogue and social change. The NPO works to dispel prejudice and discrimination against sexual minorities, and to help make it easier for LGBT individuals to live in mainstream society.

"Tokyo Pride wants to spread the message that the issues of sexual minorities are human rights issues," says Monko. "Japan's Ministry of Health and Labor and Tokyo's government support us on issues surrounding sexual health but not through issues focusing on human rights — at least, not yet. This is my top mission for this year."

As an example of the type of work the group is involved in, in June of last year Tokyo Pride, along with other humanitarian groups including Human Rights Watch and Africa Japan Forum, met with Ugandan Embassy representatives to voice their concerns over violations of the human rights of LGBT citizens in Uganda — in particular the criminalization of homosexual conduct in the Ugandan penal code, the antihomosexuality bill that was being considered in the Ugandan Parliament, and the murder of prominent human rights and LGBT activist David Kato. The groups urged the officials to publicly defend the rights of LGBT people in Uganda, to reconsider the antihomosexual legislation, and to bring Kato's killers to justice.

Tokyo Pride activists have made amazing strides in supporting sexual minorities and the LGBT community. The Tokyo Pride Parade is an extension of their activism, focusing on spreading serious messages to Japanese society about human rights.

Tokyo Pride has worked hard to build and maintain its reputation for social activism, and this requires a certain level of strictness over which organizations they promote, what decisions are made, and what messages are put out to the Japanese and international media.

However, the disciplined culture and vision that has allowed Tokyo Pride to achieve so much has also alienated some of its younger volunteers and organizers, some of whom have a different vision of what "pride" should mean. These are the people who have chosen to part ways with Tokyo Pride and organize with like-minded activists in a new group that they feel better represents them, namely Tokyo Rainbow Pride.

Tokyo Rainbow Pride

Tokyo Rainbow Pride was established in May 2011. TRP's grassroots philosophy also focuses on the celebration of the diversity of sexual minorities, spanning the full spectrum of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) rainbow, hence the name of the group. Their goal is also to spread the message that LGBT rights are human rights, with a focus on creating a sustainable event, celebrated annually, in which the number of participants increases year on year, as seen in gay-friendly cities around the world.

"We thought we needed another parade to create dynamism," Inui, the director of TRP's marketing, explains. "If you only have one parade, the organizers don't feel the necessity of creating a better pride (march) each year. Healthy competition is important."

TRP organizers are determined to find new solutions for maintaining cohesion throughout the diverse LGBT community. One way they plan to do this is by allowing all organizers and volunteers to have their opinions heard and cooperate in the planning and implementation of pride events.

Recognizing the irony of breaking off in order to seek togetherness, this new generation of organizers, in their 20s and 30s, hopes with TRP to abandon the traditional Japanese top-down power structure and develop a horizontal system in which people work together on an equal footing in planning and making decisions.

In its attempts to develop a sustainable event, TRP has been organizing, fundraising and holding "buildup events" throughout the year while training new organizers for subsequent pride marches. Since TRP's inception in May 2011 there have been 10 "countdown parties," which act as fundraising events as well as opportunities for volunteers and organizers to meet and enjoy themselves while planning for the upcoming parade.

Organizers of both pride parades clearly have strong convictions about their visions and goals for their events in Tokyo. However, some people question why there needs to be two pride events, seeing it as symbol of division within the LGBT community. Others are just delighted that there are more gay events — and thus more decadent parties to attend — after enduring a year without any pride celebrations.

Lauren Anderson, a student at Waseda University from England, points out that "a lot of people — myself included — are volunteering to help with pride in general and will be more than happy to contribute to both parades."

Anderson volunteered with TRP thinking that she would help pass out flyers. In just a month, her role has expanded to the point that she is now the international PR representative and English website developer.

The LGBT community faces enough challenges in Japan without making an issue out of the fact they are spoilt for choice for parades this year in Tokyo, says TRP President Kayo Katsuragi.

"I want people to enjoy both parades, and compare them, and I hope that it will bring about changes in the Japanese community."

Toby Siguenza is the Block 3 leader (Tokyo Area) of Stonewall AJET (stonewall.ajet.net) Twitter:(@stonewalljapan) This year Stonewall AJET will be manning the international information booth at Tokyo Rainbow Pride (tokyorainbowpride.jp/en/), providing English assistance. Tokyo Rainbow Pride festivities around Harajuku and Shinjuku will kick off at 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 29, at Yoyogi Park. Stonewall AJET will also be working with Tokyo Pride (www.tokyo-pride.org) in August. Send comments on this issue and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp

Monday, February 27, 2012

LGBT Tokyo: Twice the Pride in 2012

After going two years without a Pride Parade in Tokyo, organizers are happy to announce that 2012 will be a wonderful year of celebrating LGBT pride. This year, there are currently two gay pride parades set to march around Tokyo's busiest metropolitan streets.

The 1st Annual Tokyo Rainbow Pride (TRP), scheduled for Sunday, April 29th, 2012 begins the festivities at 11am, while the Parade starts at 2:30pm and ends at 4:30pm. Since the event is scheduled during "Golden Weekend", we can not only enjoy the perfect weather that Tokyo has to offer during this season, but we can also enjoy the national holiday on the following day. TRP will be held at Yoyogi Park Event State area, and the planned pride route is as follows: Yoyogi Park Event Plaza→Keyaki Namiki Avenue→Kōen Dōri Street→Shibuya→Meiji Dōri Street→Harajyuku→Harajuku Station→Yoyogi Park Harajuku Entrance (about 3.5 km)

The Tokyo Rainbow Pride event has a different set of organizers than the original Tokyo Pride, which usually takes place in mid-August. This group of younger generation organizers came together in May 2011 to plan a pride parade for 2012. In 2011, this group contacted the Tokyo Pride organizers to ask whether there was an event going to be planned for 2012. Since a definite answer could not be given at that time, this genki group went ahead with their plan to make sure that Tokyo has a Rainbow Pride Parade for the year 2012. The original Tokyo Pride has been sporadically planned throughout the years, so one of TRP's main goals is to plan a sustainable event that can be planned annually in Tokyo, thereby making it easier to keep in contact with sponsors, and increase numbers of attendants. By planning almost monthly "Countdown Parties", the group has a chance to meet often throughout the year, as well as raise funds all year long.

Tokyo Rainbow Pride's grassroots philosophy focuses on the celebration of diversity and sexual minorities which includes all the spectrum of the LGBTQ rainbow. In order to increase sustainability, they have tried to cut costs and focus on the collective power of the community. Since they are still a new group, they are seeking supporters. If you take the time to meet some of these organizers, you will find that they are friendly, accepting and open to the ideas of all facets of the community. Since welcoming our international AJET Stonewall group to help volunteer with the parade, the organizers have been quite easy to work with and open to new ideas.
This type of organization will be a positive new force in the LGBT community.

Of course, Stonewall will support all LGBT events happening in Japan, and will seek to help Tokyo Pride with volunteering closer to the date, August 11th, 2012.

-----------------------------------------------------------------
Please stay tuned to this post regarding updated information, such as after-parties. There are rumors that organizers are trying to organize with Ageha to hold a mixed after-party, to go along with "diverse" atmosphere of the parade.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stonewall Block 3, LGBT Events around Tokyo, February Edition

Happy {Belated} Valentines Day, L0ves.

It's Toby Siguenza here again, and hoping you're having a good Thursday.

Here's your monthly dose of Tokyo related news about upcoming events.

ELECTIONS: The success and participation in Stonewall definitely depends on whether we have enough passionate leaders and members in our community. Please consider running for a position, getting more involved, or at least voting when this time comes in March. We really need you!
The deadline for nominations are March 3rd.

"Hey there, Spring, baby!" Event-o
In March, there's a big event at AGEHA, called Shangri LA (more details below), which though is primarily gay men, does also have a women's and straight crowd. The date of this event might match up well with Cherry Blossoms' beginnings in Tokyo. [depending on the weather]

So I thought it'd be nice to make a BLOCK 3 event to perhaps have some dinner, go out dancing at a club that has shuttle buses in NICHOME and SHIBUYA, and the next day chill-out, nap, or whatever in beautiful Shinjuku park under some cherry blossoms. This would be a nice type of event where you could invite your JET friends too, to come out and party with the gays, and meet up with your fellow Stonewallers. These kind of club nights have been really nice in the past.

Would anybody be interested? If so, let me know, and I'll make an event page on Facebook.

TOKYO RAINBOW PRIDE VOLUNTEERING
Those of us who live relatively close to Tokyo have a great opportunity for getting to know the local community outside of the bar and club scene.
One of the ways is to volunteer for Tokyo Pride. It's not hard at all to do. Depending on your schedule, and what you're good at, there are many ways to help.

Mr. Inui, the English-speaking organizer who I'm working with, is very nice and has given us a list of a variety of ways that we can help out. Why not take a look and
see if there's something you'd be interested in doing.
------Do translations of various documetns to other languages, especially Korean, Chinese, French
------Make a List of media which people from other countries frequently read.
-----Make contact with Sponsors from the embassies of your countries
-----Spread the word about the parade in any way possible
-----Introduce us someone who works for foreign companies that has outlet in Japan (to ask for sponsors)
-----Participating in parade with gorgeous float
-----Volunteers for the day of the parade
------Report on your country's status on LGBT movement and parade.
(this report will be put on TOKYO RAINBOW PRIDE website)
-----Web designs and engineers who has knowledge of WordPress
-----Putting flyers in every possible places like bars and restaurants.

INTERESTING FACT FROM LAUREN ACKERMANN
April 4th: New Half Day
Part way between Hina Matsuri and Children's Day (traditionally girls' and boys' festivals), New Half Day is a day where the Japanese queer community acknowledges its trans and genderqueer identified members.

Stonewall Event: Gay Golden Week
Golden Week happens in late April/Early May and is composed of a bunch of holidays in a row. This year, it's broken into 2 renkyuus (3 day weekend). April 28th, 29th, 30th and May 3rd, 4th, 5th.

Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2012 will be on Sunday, April 29th. There are more details on the Facebook event page, and we will update you with details on pre and after-parties as we approach the date. Save the Date. We are looking into organizing a Stonewall meetup picnic either before or after the March in Yoyogi park. Also, perhaps a dinner the night before on Saturday.
If you'd like to volunteer to help out, please respond to this email. THere's also a Facebook page

The next weekend will be Dyke Weekend 2012 (DWE). Please sign up soon if you're interested. There is also a Facebook event page. You can email dwebooking@gmail.com to reserve your space.

Upcoming Men's Events

Tokyo Underground's UNDERNIGHT [Men only]
https://www.facebook.com/groups/127372873943192/
The theme is wearing undies. Sounds super hot, boys!
MARCH 19th,
HERE: @ Live House FNV(ライヴハウス FNV)
〒160-0022
東京都新宿区新宿5-4-1 新宿Qフラットビル 01 (B1F)
http://f-n-valve.com/

FEB 24th----MEN's SUITS Party
Check out ARCH's event page to see what's going on.
Usually, ARCH is a men's event club [sometimes there are womens events]
Just take a look at their schedule to see when there's a party that you'd be interested in
There's so many different themes!
http://www.clubarch.net/schedule/index.html
Here's the address to ARCH
新宿区新宿2-14-6 第2早川屋ビルB1
03-33

Women's Events
Goldfinger
http://www.goldfingerparty.com/top.html
Feb. 18th

Diamond Cutter March 2nd; Girls White Day Party

Eros March 3rd



Grand Panache 2/25: Confession




Club Night/Mixed


On March 24th Ageha's Gay Party (Mostly Guys, but Mixed Crowd)
Shuttles from Nichome, and to afterparty!!!
@ageHa, TOKYO (東京/新木場)
2012/03/24 (SAT. NIGHT)
DOORS OPEN AT 11PM
[DRESS CODE: BLACK & EROTIC ITEM]



For Men
Keivi
Mango Mango


Tokyo LGBT Supported Cafes & Eateries outside of Nichome

Do you miss your favorite gay cafe from home? Well, there are a few around Tokyo where you can go. Newscafe is in located in Jiyugaoka, a cute shopping area around Meguro, Tokyo on the Tokyu Toyoko line/Oimachi Line/Ikegami Line. It's a wonderful choice for American style brunch. Also, for some low-key cafe action, Gossip is a nice gay-friendly place to go as well. Las Chicas is easy to get to from Harajuku and Omotesando. It has outdoor seating, and an eclectic atmosphere. And a men only bar/restaurant up on Love Hotel hill (Shibuya's Dogenzaka) called Shibuya 246

Beats Starbucks, don't you think?

Upcoming EVENTS OUTSIDE OF BLOCK 3

Stonewall meet-up for the Naked Man festival in Okayama
18th February 2012 (Sat)
This used to be a national Stonewall event, but people stopped organising it after 2009.
I don't think there are any 'gay' events/parties in Okayama on this day, but it's a big festival that lots of people want to see anyway, and they used it as a chance to meet up in the past.
I’m planning to sort out details over the next week or so.
The festival itself is in Saidaiji (accessible by train or going with Okayama AJET on the bus and they'll get you seats). I’ve already seen club nights planned in the city afterwards (at Matador), I don’t think there’s any specific LGBT events though.
They will drop the ‘sticks’ at 10pm, and the last trains back to the city are around 11.30ish, or if you're going by bus with Okayama AJET you'll get dropped off back in the city after the event.
The options if you’re coming from far away are:
1) Stay in a hotel after the event, or 2) Stay out until the first trains/shinkansen as a group at a club/karaoke/internet café.

The event is on facebook now with all the info you need: https://www.facebook.com/events/277393105649114/

March 10th (Saturday) at 6 pm: All-Block Nagoya meetup! For real!
Let's meet each other! My plan is to meet up under the clock at Nagoya station and then start with dinner at either QUEER+s (a restaurant/lounge) or Sukhonta, an amazing Thai place in Sakae. I want to book reservations at least three weeks in advance, soplease RSVP by email or facebook by February 12th. If you have dietary restrictions, please let me know about them too.
After dinner, we can go to the METRO, which will be a queer dance club that night. It's one of the few big events that's not gender or kei (type) segregated in Nagoya. After that, we can wander about the gay district and go our own ways.
As for lodging, there are Toyoko Inns and other budget hotels strewn all about Sakae. These book up fast, so here's a link to Toyoko. There are also several hostels in Nagoya. Since people probably have a range of ambitions concerning the bars, I'd like to leave lodging as an everyone for themselves arrangement.

That's it for now. Have a good day!

Cheers,

Toby Siguenza

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA Hating is Everyone's Cause: But have you ever shared your other ones? Well, I did, and I just got personal.

"We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the way in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us."
--Friedrich Nietzsche

How many of your friends statused and/or tweeted something about stopping the SOPA/PIPA bills going through the US Congress and House in the next election? I'm grateful that these social media platforms make way for like-minded people to rally, spread information, and share support in order to conquer some serious bullshit going on. It's awesome that people show how much they care when one of their freedoms, access to information/knowledge/business/power, plug-ins to comfort and happiness is in jeopardy. Man, people get mad.

But like Nietzsche recognized long ago, when there are other less-represented or silenced people who have their freedoms hindered, or their lives endangered, and it does not affect us directly, we may be refusing to accept an idea. How many causes are going on right now within your own house, neighborhood, country, that need your support and alliance in order to bring equality, healthfulness, knowledge and happiness to those who reside there? Obviously, we are re-recognizing the strength of our power in numbers and solidarity when something as interconnected and all-inclusive as the Internet becomes endangered, and the masses come out from the shadows and speak up against censorship.
(Cont. below)


[Some background Radiohead to go along with my call to you, my friends]


There are times when I bypass articles about other people's causes, and forego signing their petitions because they don't affect anything in my life. I, too, ashamedly, am guilty of such behavior, but it is natural. We don't all have time to take in everybody's cause. Although, I do know that there are a few people out there in my networks whose passion and repetitiveness forces me to acknowledge the things they're requesting from me.

Since I'm in Japan, and have several highly activated:) (activist) friends, I have read countless articles regarding not only the status and health levels of the Tohoku area, as well as tons of personal accounts of people who are still suffering under the radar of both national and international news. Just today I read one from a woman who lives in a place deemed safe within Fukushima, yet her daily life is drenched with semi-conscious worrying of keeping the windows closed, drying laundry inside, watching her daughter leave for school carrying a radiation dosemeter with her, becoming annoyed when people say "gambarou, Nippon", and throwing away seemingly delicious produce from their garden. Where's the solidarity of millions posting on Facebook and Twitter, circumventing the pathetic National media, protecting their rights...to live without constant paranoia, fear, and invisible poison?

Since I'm gay, and have several highly gay friends:), I also keep quite updated with things going on in this front as well. With the campaign trail going strong, gay marriage and abortion issues are always up in the spotlight. Both of which, I support, by the way.

Just yesterday, Rick Santorum, one of the leading Republican candidates mentioned how he does not hate gays, and his views on marriage rights are just "public policy differences". WTF? Public policy is EVERYTHING!!!!

I think Rick Santorum, and the other anti-gay Republicans' voices and opinions should matter MUCH LESS than this kid's.


But, unfortunately, they don't. Children and adults who suffer from social condemnation live in this existence because of people like them who spread hate through "public policy".

Four years ago, when there was a California vote to overturn the rights to gay marriage, many people in my own networks, religious/conservative family members and friends, voted Yes, and weren't afraid to voice their opinion on why they did so. I wondered if they knew how this affected and still affects me. Did they not care because, as Nietzsche said, the idea was unsympathetic to them?


And even if California maintained gay marriage rights, I still wouldn't be able to live in the United States with my partner because immigration will not be allowed until gay marriage rights are recognized at the Federal level. So now as the situation stands, if I want to live together with my partner, I must reside here, in Japan.
I wonder, where's the blackout, the mass of stati and tweets standing up to this injustice?

The Occupy Movement, another cause close to my heart, has awoken the world just a bit, but not nearly as much as this SOPA/PIPA controversy, despite the cause involving 99% of the world's population.
Aren't you confused by this?


Because I agree with the facet of human nature that Nietzsche touched upon in his quote, I can't question why more people aren't impassioned with the desire to care for other people's causes. All I can do is understand that it exists.

Even so, how will anybody know my causes if I don't voice them, share them, status, tweet, blog, and gather more people to voice theirs as well. So today has inspired me to share my concerns for the world around me, and open my eyes to the causes and concerns surrounding those around me. Though I'm active on the internet, post and share often, I rarely discuss my deep personal concerns and experiences, but I guess I better start somewhere.

How about you? How will you support me? And more important to the collective cause, how will you call upon me to support you?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Years Eve in Nichome, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan, World, BANG!


Check out the new Motel bar, Goldfinger. There's now no more entry charge.



JAN 6th, Friday GIrls' Event

DIAMOND CUTTER

JAN 7th Saturday Girls' Event

EROS PArty

(You can probably find one of these flyers in one of the girls' bars [Kins, Adezakura, Motel]






New Year's Eve Events

I'll be in Nichome for New Years. Keep reading, I found a girl's and boy's event in Nichome for New Year's Eve.
Have a good end to 2011, Everyone!

GIRLS' PARTY 【Grand Panache Count Down Party 2012】
OPEN 22:00~4:00




The Address
【PLACE】新宿御苑ROSSO
東京都新宿区新宿1-19-8 サンモール第7ビルB1  
03-5925-8280
CLICK HERE for MAP/ACCESS


BOY'S EVENT: THE RING at ARCH in NICHOME
Open: 21:00 から1月1日の13:00
Price: 23時まで入場¥3,500
Flyer: ¥4,500 Door: ¥5,000


DQ: MARGARETTE, GYUKO
Special Countdown Showtime: TOY BOYS and TOY GIRLS
Go-GO Boys: ISE, JUNICHI, KOTARO, MASATO, YOSHIHIRO, ZEN
VJ: Maki

AFTER HOURS IN SHIBUYA

2012/01/01 
am6:00~22:00(予定は未定)
venue:AMRAX @ 渋谷
fee:\2500(nd)/¥2000 with flyer(nd)




NEWS---MOTEL, a women's bar in Shinjuku Ni-chome has moved locations to a bigger facility. See flyer below.


January 15th 2012-----LGBT Coming of Age Ceremony and AfterParty


LGBT Coming of Age Ceremony
Date/ 2011.1.15(Sun)
Time/ Main Event:15:00~(Open 14:30)After Party:19:15~(Open 19:00)
Fee/ Main Event:1500yen After Party:1500yen
Place/ Seijo Hall(6-2-1 Seij, Setagayaku, Tokyo)
★Reservation is needed to attend Both Main Event and After Party
Official site/ www.geocities.jp/lgbtseijinshiki

::::::UPDATE END::::

Monday, November 28, 2011

STONEWALL LGBT: Events around Tokyo

UPDATES FOR NEW YEARS in TOKYO, NICHOME, SHIBUYA


New Year's Eve Events

I'll be in Nichome for New Years. Keep reading, I found a girl's and boy's event in Nichome for New Year's Eve.
Have a good end to 2011, Everyone!

GIRLS' PARTY 【Grand Panache Count Down Party 2012】
OPEN 22:00~4:00




The Address
【PLACE】新宿御苑ROSSO
東京都新宿区新宿1-19-8 サンモール第7ビルB1  
03-5925-8280
CLICK HERE for MAP/ACCESS


BOY'S EVENT: THE RING at ARCH in NICHOME
Open: 21:00 から1月1日の13:00
Price: 23時まで入場¥3,500
Flyer: ¥4,500 Door: ¥5,000


DQ: MARGARETTE, GYUKO
Special Countdown Showtime: TOY BOYS and TOY GIRLS
Go-GO Boys: ISE, JUNICHI, KOTARO, MASATO, YOSHIHIRO, ZEN
VJ: Maki

AFTER HOURS IN SHIBUYA

2012/01/01 
am6:00~22:00(予定は未定)
venue:AMRAX @ 渋谷
fee:\2500(nd)/¥2000 with flyer(nd)




NEWS---MOTEL, a women's bar in Shinjuku Ni-chome has moved locations to a bigger facility. See flyer below.




January 15th 2012-----LGBT Coming of Age Ceremony and AfterParty


LGBT Coming of Age Ceremony
Date/ 2011.1.15(Sun)
Time/ Main Event:15:00~(Open 14:30)After Party:19:15~(Open 19:00)
Fee/ Main Event:1500yen After Party:1500yen
Place/ Seijo Hall(6-2-1 Seij, Setagayaku, Tokyo)
★Reservation is needed to attend Both Main Event and After Party
Official site/ www.geocities.jp/lgbtseijinshiki

::::::UPDATE END::::




I send out emails to the people who live in Stonewall's Block 3, which includes the area around Tokyo. Since a lot of out-of-towners might end up in Tokyo in order to fly out, they may be able to catch some of these events. So here's the mail:

Dear Block 3bies,

Happy Friday to you all. I hope you're having a good day! I have the list of Block 3 Stonewall members and attached it to this mail, as well as a few updates and events coming up that I found after the last bulletin.


Getting to Know our Block 3--UPDATE
On Facebook, there was a request for members to get a list of the names of the other members in their area, along with which cities they live in and contact information.

In the last email, I announced that I was collecting your permission to release your contact and location information to other members. Thank you for those of you who responded to the mail.
I received 5 responses , made the list, and attached it to this email.

If you'd like to be added to the list please reply to this email saying "Yes, please add my name to the list, include my contact information and send it to me when it's completed." This list will only be given to Stonewall members.

STONEWALL SKYPE EVENT

The Stonewall leadership thought it'd be helpful to have some peer support sessions going on to talk about some of the issues that affect us in Japan. Just a relaxed discussion. Please send your Skype account name to Mike Moses" block leader gmail account if you want to participate, as well as any specific questions related to the main topic you would like to discuss during the talk. Of course, your information will be kept confidential! The more the merrier!

Topic: Negotiating an LGBTQ identity in the Japanese workplace

Date and Time: Thursday, December 1st at 9:00 pm

Sponsor: Stonewall AJET

RSVP: stonewallblock1@gmail.com

Current Event Reminders

The Ring Party at Warehouse 702 (Tomorrow)
Nov. 26 BOYS ONLY
http://www.warehouse702.com/The Location's website

Panache Girl Party in Nichome (Tomorrow)
Nov. 26th GIRLS ONLY
http://grand-panache.fem.jp/index.shtml

Tokyo Pride Volunteer Prep Meeting

Nov. 27th from 2pm-4pm, Nichome
Also, for those of you who'd be interested in volunteering to help with next year's Tokyo pride, the first information meeting is going be held on Nov. 27th from 2pm-4pm
at Shinjuku Culture Center (In Nichome). Tokyo Pride will be held on April 29th, 2012. And of course, this will be a Big Stonewall Event!!!!
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=273011476076192
‎2012/04/29に開催する第1回プライドパレード
「Tokyo Rainbow Pride2012」ボランティア説明会
27 November · 14:00 - 16:00@新宿文化センター
Volunteering for Tokyo Pride might be a great way to make new friends in the Japanese community. At Osaka Pride, I saw a few foreigners wearing the "Pride Organizer" shirts, so you'd most probably be welcome to join as a volunteer.

Diamond Cutter
Dec 2nd at ARCH in Nichome
http://diamondcutter.jp/index_pc.html

Human Rights Demonstration regarding Ishihara's, the Governor of Tokyo, homophobic comments
Dec. 03 from 1:30pm at Kashiwagi Park, Shinjuku
For those of you who are interested in politics and human rights change in Japan, there's a demonstration on Dec. 03 from 1:30pm at Kashiwagi Park, a 5 minute walk
away from Shinjuku west exit. Here's the map. http://www.shinjuku.info/S75269.html
Last year, the governor of Tokyo made some tacky comments about homosexuals. There were demonstrations after his criticisms asking him to apologize, and he never did.
If you want more information, and can read Japanese, here you go http://blog.rainbowaction.net/rainbow-action/2011/11/789
RainbowAction主催デモ
東京の中心で人権を叫ぶ ~石原都知事の同性愛者差別発言から1年~」
12.03 sat. 13:30新宿区・柏木公園集合/14:00出発
http://www.rainbowaction.net/


JUNON BARTHOLOMUE Mixed Event Dance Party in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka
Dec. 3rd, P
lanet Cafe, Hamamatsu
http://pksp.jp/bartholomue/


Gaymix Party 10th Anniversary Party (Boy's Event)
Dec. 9th at Arch. (Nichome)
http://www.two-cowboys.net/live/pc/index.html


LA NINA Party [Girl's Only] in Shibuya
December 10th, Saturday
LA NINA EVENT WEBSITE
Here's the venue's website

GOLDFINGER ---Shinjuku, Nichome
Dec. 17th, Saturday
Here's the event's link

Shangri La: White Christmas Ball [Mixed, but mostly guy's event]
Dec. 23rd at AGEHA
Mostly Boy, but Mixed event
Join Mixi and go to this link http://mixi.jp/view_community.pl?id=55651

PANANCHE MERRY XMAS PARTY in TOKYO [Women's Event]
DEC. 24th in Shibuya
Here's the link to the party
Here's the link to the map.



--------------------------------------


Future (Block 3) Major Events [Please send word to Facebook or here if you hear of an interesting event in Block 3]

Tokyo Pride April 29th, 2012

Dinah Shore Weekend in California during Spring Break (March 30th-April 1st) in Palm Springs
(There's a group of girls in Japan who are going to California for Spring Break, if you'd like to join)

Dyke Weekend May 4th, 5th and 6th (More information coming soon)




Feel free to share your ideas about what you'd like to see in Stonewall here stonewallsig@ajet.com or stonewallblock3@gmail.com

I'd really like to share more events for you BOYS, so please be on the look-out and share them with me!!!!!!! I feel bad that my posts are so girl-centric, desukedo......


And, that's all I got for you in this installment of Block 3 Info Blast.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Most Important Thing I've Learned by Living Abroad

I read this blog calling for submissions to answer "What have you learned by living abroad?" via twitter, and thought it'd be fun to respond. Afterwards, you should put a link to your post in that site's comments section. Okay, soooo......



Have you ever wondered about the phrase, "You are your own worst enemy"? Whenever I deeply think about about some catchphrase or overly used English idiom, my thoughts naturally cross the bridge of wondering how to say it in Japanese.

But think about it for a moment,"your own worst enemy". Hmmmm.....

Do you ever sabotage yourself into producing less, having less fun, being unsuccessful at various challenges, by using the incredible power of self-doubt?

When you move to a foreign land, where you don't speak the language well, or know the usual way of doing things, you spend a large percent of your waking life in varying states of confusion. I find it funny that even when I dream in Japanese, I don't know what's being said to me.

[Aren't you hilarious, Ms. Subconscious?]

In the beginning, many tasks such as signing up for a cell phone or bank account appear impossible if you don't have a translator with you. In these certain cases, even a dictionary won't do you much good. After some time, to everyone's relief, these types of tasks become easier.

However, many people, myself included, fall into the "I can't speak [insert the language of where you live here]" trap. Despite studying, and seeing benchmarks that their level is improving, people often shrug off some annoying task like calling the post office to re-deliver their package because of the fear that their Japanese wouldn't be understood over the telephone.
Actually, I'm talking about myself, in this case. I was notorious for asking for favors of my coworkers during my first couple of years in Japan.

Now, these fears aren't in any way irrational. I had plenty of experiences where a Japanese service employee becomes frustrated by a language barrier and stops trying to explain, only to tell me to bring an interpreter next time. After enough of those experiences, it feels safer and more comfortable to just ask a Japanese friend, co-worker, or partner to call for you, as if you were a child who's too young and inexperienced to use the phone or discuss adult matters.

So here's where I get to the point. [Oh look at you, ガマンさん] The most important thing that I've learned to do is slap myself in the face whenever I say the words "I don't read, speak, understand Japanese well enough to _________" Now, I won't usually do the slapping of my face if I'm in public, but I do put it on the list of things to do later. Because, there's no excuse....absolutely no excuse to limit the things you can do just because of a language barrier.

There was a point in time when I found myself saying that for everything. When it was time to research a travel destination, book a hotel, train tickets, rent a car, call the post office, return the phone messages I'd get on my cell phone answering service. The list goes on and on. Then, I started realizing that I had gradually stopped asking for help, and just started doing without these things. I would just decide that it was too difficult to get tickets to some event using the Konbini machines, so I wouldn't go.

I didn't realize how terrible this behaviour had become until I met *Yinsan. I was instantly interested in this girl because she was interviewing Japanese women politicians and filming a documentary about it. I was fascinated to hear more about her project, so I volunteered to help her with whatever she needed. It wasn't until I met up with her at her Sakura apartment, a short-term housing facility for foreigners that I realized, she's just a short-time visitor here from Malaysia. I had lived in Japan for far longer than she, and despite her having a very basic command of the Japanese language, she had ventured on this monumental task of making a bilingual documentary in Japanese and English.

When I first realized the fact that she wasn't so familiar with the workings of Japan, I tried to bind her with the same invisible restraints that I do to unconsciously limit myself. I asked her, "How on earth are you able to know what direction your interviews are going in when you're without an interpreter." How are you going to complete this film with so little budget when you have so much translating that needs to be done?" How annoying was I, right?!?!?!

She then just flat out told me that somehow, in some way, she'll do it. She's got to, she's already been given the budget for the film, and has no other choice but to make it to the end.

And this is when I realized how important it is to have this type of mentality when you're living abroad, because life is naturally going to be harder to tackle. The thing is, that this is the quality that most interviewers for overseas jobs are searching for in a person, and a lot of us are easily able to give the correct answers. But when it comes to doing this day-by-day, even after a succession of failures, the challenge becomes more daunting.

Since making this discovery, almost everyone I meet is either someone who's still using the language excuse as a crutch, or someone awesome who's grabbing life in Japan by the 金玉, and finding solutions to whatever challenge they're faced with.

Whenever I feel a challenge coming on, I now always look for alternatives for ways of solving the problem that I may not have thought of before. Only after that, will I revert to asking for help.


Just don't forget the face-slapping. That's crucial.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Nanowrimo (Day 1: 1696 words)

Part of the reason that I've avoided the JET programme as the subject matter for one of my Nanowrimo projects is because I really want that one to be "right". In my other projects, I've dealt with characters, situations, nationalities and languages that I know really well, or at least feel confident with conjuring. However, because of the international nature of the experience in the JET programme, it's harder for me to create these characters, and feel as if it's authentic.

Secondly, I can't decide on the time frame or point of view. Let's start at the beginning. What was the beginning, actually? Was it when I walked through each airport exit stage, escorted by smiling strangers in matching T-shirts, while feeling more alone than welcomed? Or was it when I smiled out little white lies to a panel of Japanese interviewers about the extent of my resiliency, and ability to shake things off that may perhaps become culturally and repetitively annoying? Or was it when my best friend at the time wooed me with images of adventure and hi-jinks in a foreign-er than foreign land?

I do think it's most appropriate to start on the day that I fished out my horrendously heavy luggage from the baggage claim, and struggled to carry them out the automatic doors, where a great wall of wet heat greeted me to Japan's unexpected tropic, cured ever so conveniently with a "hanbaiki" delivered bottle of bitter green tea. But that's not the point. It's not about me or my experiences. It's about meshing together others' lives in a way that reflects the sky of a single day.


By the way, I ought to interject here before I get too far into what I intend to do and forget to introduce my objective to the reader. Perhaps the someone skimming through these mish-mashes tends to get peeved when one talks about a project in which they intend on partaking before they've had a chance to see it. If you hate when people spoil entertainment events through updates and a poor sense of written tact, then perhaps this Nanowrimo isn't for you. If you have even in some point in the past, had this happen where you wished that you hadn't heard anything at all before partaking in entertainment, be forewarned. This Nanowrimo November 50,000 word "novel" month is going to be dedicated to all my sussings-out of how I intend on portraying an experience as a member of the aforementioned journey through teaching English in Japan.

Now that I've got that out of the way, I can go ahead and release the built up strain in my eyes, and allow them to roll around and succumb to all the sarcastic stretching they need after that last paragraph. I mean, for reals, do we really need yet another English teacher in Japan writing about her impressions of how the intricacies of living in this place affect the people around her? I must ask myself what do I think it is that sets me apart from everyone else who's writing about these people in this place all over their cleverly named blogs? I must and I have. I know that I'll be the person writing this portrait of a young group of women and men, and because of that point, my scent will be in its nuance, my fingerprints on the mirrored letters from my extra bouncy, slightly loud keyboard. Yes, this much is true, however, however, however.....

My desire is to portray "the" experience to the best of my ability. I suppose the dear reader ought to feel sorry for me for attempting such a holographic task. There I go reaching for the shiny sandwich hovering above a dream-ful sleep. And, there I go with my food metaphors and wordventions. Ya, well, you know where to go if you have a distaste for that kind of thing, as well as where to stay if you don't.

Okay, so back to what I was talking about before I embarked on the explanation of my audaciously Milton-esque task of justifying the ways of JET to man. The beginning, end, and midlife time-frame. You know, I actually haven't even truly decided what any of this is. A few weeks ago, as I was pondering over some of the inherent idiosyncracies of a JET, I thought it'd be cool to have a well-told television show, perhaps shown on the AMC network, that'd be a kind of dramedy, horr-sical, romantasy. I just thought it'd be cool if it existed and I had nothing to do with it except for stealing it off a torrent site.

After that 20 second daydream, I chastised myself for daydreaming about TV, and remarked "I wonder how hard it'd be for me to try making one of those." Truth is, it sounded hard inside the confines of my cranium than it does once I put it into some text on a white and black screen. Then I thought, what if it was the kind of thing where people worked together to create different episodes using the same characters, however they could characterize them based on how they saw them. Then, everybody's scent would fuse together and no one could be able to be sniffed out individually.

I wondered how do-able it would be if one season depicted a one year time-spanning from August to July. Some characters go home, some stay, some grow, some spiral.

Well, yes, these were just some thoughts that mist-ified around my imagination, and I won't limit myself to making these decisions while I'm at this point. So the beginning starts in an airport. While introducing the faces of the characters, along with portraits of their personal effects, I'd like for all sound to be background noise of airport, however, the voices of the bystanders will be barely audible, yet definitely distinguishable. It'll be the other travelers, conversing about the spectacle that is the airport on the day of large-scale gaijin entry. Some people will be confused and asking each other what they think is going on. Some people will know about the program and share their opinions, good and bad. I definitely want both.

I am in need of another rest stop. This will be another one of the challenges of creating this project. Besides getting honest opinions from all perspectives of people who live in and around the programme, there'll be an added challenge of perfecting the nuances and understanding when things are put into Japanese. In this respect, I will have a definite disadvantage and will be in the need of help, and not only with translating. I'll also need help with extracting clear and honest opinions. I've done so much of the research already, everything's all in my head in the form of magma-tic, gelatinous mush which has burned, dried and melted around in cycles hundreds of times. I just need to keep talking to people and let these images flow out.

By the way, there's another major aspect to my image of the final project. Remember earlier I mentioned a few genres in which I'd like this to nestle between. One of the aforementioned hybrids that may come to be the most difficult to portray is the romantasy. I'm not a fan of deep fantasy tales, such as the Lord of the Rings, or even Harry Potter.

Oh no, did I just lose some readers?

Haha, kidding, no, but for real, I need fiction-some mystery in any story with which I spend a lot of time. It's kind of my prerequisite for what I find interesting and real. To me, the unreal is real, and that is that.

If at any point you think that I am blabbing on and on just to waste word space, I'd like you to call me on it. Right now, I'm tired and disappointed that on my first day, I am finding it difficult to want to finish this 1667 word post. You know what? I'll take it easy, and write more tomorrow.

Perhaps I'll dream of something awesome.

[I left, but couldn't sleep knowing that I didn't finish my full quota of words on the very first day. I felt like if I started a precedence such as that, I'd only be psyching myself out for the rest of this 30 day challenge.]

I'll try and put something non-distracting to listen to while reading. In the same way, I'll also be putting together a kind of unofficial soundtrack usually near the end of the daily post.








Day by day will bring numerous ideas, some good and some not-so-good. Either way, I'll get some stuff up here. Perhaps tomorrow I can think of some of the major events that has shaped my (and perhaps others') perceptions. Though I'm so ademant about not making this about me, besides interviewing people, my own memories will act as the spring board. Considering I have this blog which dates back to when I first came, I'll be able to conjure up some of the things that I may have forgotten.

You know, that's another element of why I've hesitated for so long. As a newbie, I didn't feel like I understood this place well enough to write such a broad account of things. However, even now, 5 years later, I still feel underqualified, and I doubt that I would ever feel 100 percent confident. I'd like to speak with someone who does.

Actually, haha, I don't. I have encountered that person enough during my time here. Which reminds me! That's one thing that I'm about, and I know it doesn't seem all that positive and happy, but one of my internal brain objectives is to depict those different characters you come across here again and again. You know, "that guy" and "that girl", "that teacher", "that konbini staff", et cetera.

However, there are definitely images, emotions, beliefs, memories, impressions, sensations that only come to you during your first experience doing something. And when you first come here, there are so many firsts. It's actually quite amazing, especially if you've gone awhile in your life without having very many occurences of "firsts".

Monday, October 31, 2011

Rilakkuma Bentou

This was just the cutest thing I ever did see, today.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Two a Day for 200 days: A GRE Wordlist (and I might as well learn the Japanese word as well)

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Aberrant (adj) deviating from the norm
常軌を逸した [じょうきをいっした] 
deviating from proper course.

Sample sentences:

People with aberrant personalities are often scrutinized, or worse, ignored.

Lady Gaga's aberrant sense of fashion gets her a lot of attention.

Many still consider homosexuality an aberrant lifestyle "choice".

Michael Jackson's aberrant methods of beauty treatments often made him the subject of ridicule.

Your aberrant choice in keitai straps has made me a little hungry.




Abeyance (noun) temporary suspension or inactivity
停止[ていし]  

Sample sentences:
The abeyance of my gym attendance provokes my aberrant body weight.

Although many Japanese don't want to express aberrant views against the government's decision to continue with nuclear energy, many protesters are demanding an abeyance of nuclear power usage.

This train line's abeyance has caused a lot of people to be late for work.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monkeying around the Izu

On one October morning, we woke up early and headed down into the Izu for some research adventure. Chu and I have decided to go exploring as much as possible in order to research awesome places when people come to visit, as well as refine our adventure skills.

The theme of our day trip was "MELLO YELLOW", the name of a citrus-y soda, which I found in a vending machine that morning.


The weather was quite nice, and I enjoyed the scenery along the ride without seeing any "Must Stop and Sees", which are attention-grabbing things that appear on signboards in easy kanji, hiragana or English. When I see something awesome, I jump around in the passenger seat and say "let's stop here, let's stop here." Our first stop was at this point in the map.


There was a sign on the side of the road that read "Hot Spring shoots water 30 meters into the air". Behind the gates and main building, I could see billowing clouds of steam rising from an unknown source. The sign, combined with this mysterious steam spurred one of those "let's stop here" moments.

Breakfast and Hot Spring Foot Bath

We were able to enter without having to pay any fee, which pleased me greatly. I approached a wooden structure where the steam seemed to be coming from, and read how almost 80 years ago, workers had found some hot spring water while digging. They built a long pump down into the earth, and used it to get to the source of the hot spring water. Every couple of hours, the pressure releases and shoots into the air. They've got it all calculated as to when it'll blow, to where there are even buses that arrive 30 mins before, allowing a foot bath and an onsen egg in preparation.

Here you can buy 2 raw eggs for 100 yen and put them into the hot onsen water, where they become hard-boiled.

Through some kind of inky magic, the eggs don't lose their stamp after 15 minutes in the hot spring water.

Yum yum, what a delicious breakfast, cooked by nature.


After getting back into the car, we drove down to Shimoda, where we found the Perry Museum, which chronicals the events of when Matthew Perry visited Japan with Monica and Joey.
Hah, just playin'. The other Matthew Perry was some bitchy American dude who came looking for a base to rest and stock up on food and supplies while whaling in the Pacific waters. He and his crew strong-armed Japan into opening up their ports to foreign traders. Personally, I don't recommend this museum as a tourist site. You'd be much happier spending your time staring at beautiful beaches. The museum is old, cheesy, and I strongly doubt that any of the artifacts on display are authentic. If you don't believe me, feel free to spend 1000 yen and see for yourself.


The Perry Museum

There were a few things that caught my interest. For example, this is what Perry looked like.

And here are some Japanese renditions of him by artists of the day. Awww, how sweet!


Though I'm 90% sure these are in no way authentic, I thought about how cool it would actually be to flip through a self-made English to Japanese dictionary of the first foreigners to come to Japan. I'd love to check out that kind of artifact.


Have you ever wondered who that dude on the 10,000 yen bill is? It's this guy, Mr. Fukazawa.
He was one of the first Japanese to go overseas and study about the outside world. He brought back a lot of technology to Japan.

This book fascinated me. I'd love to "borrow" the book from the case. It's Perry's journal of what he encountered during his time here. The book was close enough to the glass display case to read the page it was opened to. It described how the Japanese were extremely secretive about describing their ways and customs to him, and blamed the governmental rule at the time, that it was a crime to disclose any personal or cultural information. Perry goes on to say that despite this, many people were constantly asking questions about what the world was like outside of Japan, and demanded answers about everything. Close to the end of the page, he says that the locals were much friendly and easier to get along with than the officials that he dealt with more regularly.

This is a painting of a tsunami that hit Shimoda during that time. Scarrrrry! Beware of the Tokai!

And finally, the awaiting destination, THE MONKEYS

Here are the prices.

Here's a close-up of some groomin'. This park is pretty special in that it's not quite a zoo. In fact, these monkeys are not fenced in at all. Around 50 years ago, the local inhabitants of the beach began feeding the monkeys, and they liked the area, formed a community and have stayed ever since. After my initial excitement of being around hundreds of monkeys subsided, I realized how relaxed the atmosphere is. The monkeys don't seem phased by human visitors and they just go on with their normal schedule, and pretty much ignore you....

....Well, that is until they get hungry. Monkeys of ever generation will eventually make their way to the feeding area, which is a barred wall which houses the main office and building in the monkey park. Monkeys aren't allowed inside, and the visitors are encouraged to do any feeding through these bars. The monkeys may become aggressive if you're holding food outside of the feeding area.

Chu getting personal with one of the monkeys. She began to bond with the monkeys as she helped them search for seeds on the grounds after feeding time. When a monkey catches a glimpse of Chu on the floor, they quickly come and see what she's looking at.

They live on a beautiful beach! This is the view from their playground.

This little guy came to see if I had any peanuts for him.


The monkeys have a boss, and here's a news article about when one of the monkey bosses was overthrown by a more popular monkey.

As I was trying to get a close up of one of the bigger adult male monkeys, he startled me by yelling at me to quit taking his picture. However, I had already accidentally pressed the capture button, and came away with this picture.

The sunset



DINNER

This restaurant has a beautiful balcony overlooking the sea, and serves seafood that has just been taken out from the aquarium.

The servers bring out all the ingredients, pieces of fish, vegetables, shrimp, squid, and you cook it yourself on a little hibachi wood-burning stove at your table.

The ebi were HUGE, and creepy to watch as they went from gray to pink.

Here's the bird's eye view of the the dinner we had to end our day trip around the Izu.
Can't wait for the next one, I feel like there's so much more to see and explore!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

iCon

I got back from class and gave my computer mouse a little wiggle to wake it back up, only to find a friend's status update, RIP Steve Jobs. I never believe anything from just one source, so I scrolled down, then googled his name only to find out that it was indeed true. Though I had heard of his worsening health, I didn't think he was in death's danger zone. I felt sad, but didn't add to the pile of RIP stati hanging down my newsfeed. Mostly because I was annoyed by people. Just yesterday, everybody was complaining about how Apple failed to release the G5, and instead came out with an inferior upgrade 4GS. Yesterday, I was deviously glad to hear that Apple-ites were disappointed with the 4GS, people waiting up until odd hours, waiting to see what Macintosh had in store for them. It's like the modern day, adult version of the selfish children in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, aware of only their own wishes, and unaware that Mr. Wonka has problems of his own.

Macintosh impressed me ever since I was an elementary school child, when my 3rd grade class would get 1 hour to go into the plasterboard annexed classroom built on the cement lot of of Rowland Elementary, which we referred to as the computer lab. It was the first time I ever had a password, though I wasn't able to choose my own. I had it memorized, though, before I even knew what a social security number was. That shit's ingrained in experience and has traveled with me through the years to nowadays, when I have nightmares that I've soaked my iPhone in a murky lake. The reliance on technology is seen as a pitiful thing, however, the pleasure we've gotten from these fidgety devices is immeasurable.

Besides what "things" Steve Jobs has brought into the world, his death goes beyond the commodities, and breaks into ideas, philosophy. Chu statused that he was one of her heros, and she's not kidding or posting to jump on any bandwagons. When she'd go out for movies, and I'm at home hoping for a dumbed-down romantic comedy, she comes home with a documentary style movie about the early days of the personal computer, when Steve and Bill used to be friends, partners. No, she really liked him, we all did, because he was a self-proclaimed dreamer who just so happened had talent in technology and business strategy.

I know I just recently posted this video a few posts ago, but watch it again. Watch and see how rare it really is to be that kind of visionary, yet at the same time, how simple and accessible it is. First, take a look at that, then feel free to watch some great speeches he's made.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action--A Ted Talk


2005 Stanford commencement speech where Steve shares three powerful stories, including one eerily about the brevity of life.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

秋味ーあきあじーThe tastes of Autumn

I just wanted to make a personal list to myself of all the tastes of Autumn, so that I don't miss anything.

AKI AJI KIRIN BEER

Since I'm going through a couple of sober months during this season, I'm not getting to enjoy these delicious beers. I'll have to stock up on a case, because after October, they disappear off of the store shelves until next year. Oh yes, and don't be fooled by the two different kinds of AkiAji! Kirin is superior to Suntory.

KURI, Chestnut Flavored Everything


Personally, I don't really like the flavor very much, however Chu does, and she loves when I bring cakes, candies, or other goods with chestnuts baked into it.

GINKO NUTS (3 stages)
First you got the nut, then you gotta crack it. A slippery little yellow-green nut comes out.
Then you can roast them in the baking area of your stove.
Then eat.


MATSUTAKE

Oh, the first time I encountered a Matsutake! Chu brought them home and I looked inside the thin clear bag, and the smell is what caught me first. Those matsutake not only looked like a slimy, dirty penis, but it also smelled like one. She didn't like when I made that comparison. I wanted nothing to do with them.
However, she cleaned them, chopped them up and added them to the dry rice in the rice cooker. After the 20-30 minutes it takes for a ricecooker to cook up some rice, which was composed of 1/4 brown rice (genmai) and 3/4 white rice, it was ready to stir and eat.
When I opened the rice cooker, the usual gust of steam fled the scene. The smell was delectable! I took a little taste before it even had a chance to cool, and I fell in love with these mushrooms. After cooked, their peni-like ways melt away into pure deliciousness.

SATSUMA IMO
I'm okay with Japanese sweet potatoes. When they are prepared correctly, they can be quite delicious. You can sneak these guys into almost any food. It's fun to try. Just google Satsuma Imo, and look how many way you can incorporate it into your cooking.

KAKI (persimmon)
It took me 2 season of kaki before I gave them a chance. The reason, is because I have a slight allergy to the ones found in California. They make my mouth feel very dry and suddenly the back of my throat will start to itch. However, after being forced to taste one, I'm glad I did, because the Japanese ones don't have the same effect on me. Yum, I love when their harder. If they get too gooey, they become too overly sweet for my taste.

SANMA
You'll probably start seeing these slim, long, silver fish chilling in icy water in supermarkets. These don't have to be prepared. You just brush on some soy sauce and stick it in the fish cooker on your stove. Personally though, I don't like to eat these sanma. It's not that I don't like the taste, it's just that if you eat this brownish, blackish part of the fish under white parts, you'll get this super nasty bitter taste in your mouth. It grossed me out far too many times to continue eating them. But if you're a fish-lover and you're careful, check it out.


Last but not least, it's now about time to start making nabe! That'll probably be the next food thing I write about. I'm very passionate about nabes.