April 2017 M T W T F S S « Sep 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Note:The information and opinions presented on this blog are mine alone. This blog does not represent the Fulbright Program, Department of State, Japan-U.S. Educational Commission or any other organization with which I am associated.
Though I still have two essays to write and submit before I’m technically finished with my work for the year, with my last Japanese finals behind me as of Tuesday, I devoted the majority of my last week in Japan to spending time with as many of the people who have made the past ten months so meaningful for me as possible.
Last Friday, some of the friends who I met on the Iwate volunteer trip from Tokyo came to Nagoya to visit to celebrate Rina’s birthday and my departure. One of my friend’s parents kindly hosted us in their lovely home for a maki–zushi-making party, which included viewing gorgeous photos of her recent wedding in Hawaii, lighting small fireworks in their garden, and loads of fun conversation and incredible food.
Monday I met up with one of the first friends whom I made after arriving in Nagoya, Shion, who works at Hostel Ann, where I stayed during my first ten days in Nagoya. After dinner we were planning to attend a Japanese comedy performance, but it turned out to be so popular that, despite being more than thirty minutes early, we couldn’t get seats. Instead, we ended up at her favorite bar, a tiny place nearby. It ended up being the perfect quaint place to catch up and make some new friends. Shion is really interested in Native American history and culture. I sincerely hope that someday she’ll be able to make it to America and we will be able to meet up again.
Tuesday night I went with friends from Thailand, Brazil, China, and the U.S. to an unbelievably delicious Thai restaurant. Diego and Jia two of the earliest friends I made after beginning studies at Nagoya University, and they were a huge part of the reason that I was able to survive the intensity of Japanese classes during my first semester. Thailand and Brazil are now at the very top of the list of countries that I deeply hope to be able to visit someday.
To celebrate my last night in Japan (for now), Hiraku and I went to the batting cages and then to a kaiten-zushi (rotater belt) restaurant for a huge dinner, and afterwards we walked the hour and a half back to our dorm through the streets of Nagoya; night is more or less the only time it’s cool enough to bear walking around outside in Nagoya lately. After taking a short break on the huge lawn in front of the auditorium on campus, we went to a fancy “French” restaurant that I had noticed during my most recent nighttime jog, where we had delicious crepes and cider for dessert. Afterwards we watched the first Harry Potter movie (which Hiraku had never seen) in Japanese, and I finished packing up my things.
As difficult as it is to say goodbye to all of the people whom I’ve come to cherish in Japan, knowing that my family and friends in the U.S. are only 22 hours of travel and one ocean away make the goodbyes bearable. Moreover, I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to move soon to a new place once again and begin graduate studies at Purdue University, and I can’t wait to make the most of the few days that I have at home in the meantime.
Last Tuesday my adviser graciously invited our seminar group to her apartment to have a farewell party. It was a lovely night of fun discussions and delicious food, not to mention plenty of cuddling with her two precious dogs.
It was the first of a series of goodbyes that are consuming a large portion of my time these days. As sad as goodbyes are, though, I feel more fortunate than I can express that I’ve met so many wonderful, inspiring people during my time in Japan. My adviser’s courses, and our thesis seminar group in particular, were extremely productive for my research progress, and I’m so glad that I had the chance to participate in them. I suppose the tone of finality with which I’m writing this post isn’t quite accurate, as I still have one exam and two final essays to complete, but somehow, it’s saying goodbye to the people who have made my time here so meaningful that is really driving home the fact that I fly back to the U.S. in less than three days.
My adviser, who is from Osaka originally, taught us how to make Kansai-style sukiyaki.
Last Thursday evening I had the great pleasure of eating dinner with friends at a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant that is run by one of my seniors in my research seminar and her family. Though I’ve eaten at conveyor-belt sushi restaurants more than a few times since coming to Japan, this was my first experience with a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant, and it was incredible. The warm, friendly atmosphere was perfect for enjoying a long dinner with friends, and the sushi was, without a doubt, the most delicious that I’ve ever eaten. Although I will more than likely go back to being a vegetarian once I return to the U.S., it would be no easy feat if places like this existed in Missouri or Indiana.
For any of my friends in Nagoya or planning to visit at any point, I urge you to find a way to visit this restaurant someday. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
I won’t bother apologizing for the fact that I don’t have time to write a proper blog post at the moment due to being too busy trying to soak in my last week in Nagoya, as well as pass my finals, write my end reports, box up my room, etc., because I know that all of you wonderful people want me to be enjoying my final days in Japan as much as possible. And by “all of you,” I realize that I may only be referring to my mom, Lucas, and Hannah, as they are the only people who I am more or less certain will at some point read these words. So, thanks for understanding, guys 🙂
Even though I’m not posting many words this time, I thought I’d still share some photos of some of the more exciting moments to take place in my life over the past several weeks.
Stopping by Nagoya’s very own “Oktoberfest,” which for some reason takes place in mid-July, and drinking the most expensive mug of beer I’ve ever purchased (although I suppose there haven’t been that many to compare it too):
Baking (cookies!) for the first time since coming to Japan, thanks to Hiraku who let me borrow his oven as my dorm doesn’t have one:
Watching a Japanese baseball game:
Lately life has been especially busy with end-of-term and about-to-move-across-the-world things as well as quite a few other exciting outings; however, at the moment I’m still too busy writing final reports and research papers to give adequate descriptions to everything that has been going on in my life. So in the meantime, I thought I’d use this blog as a platform to share some recent articles that I think raise extremely important issues about current happenings and trends in Japanese society, which also happen to be directly related to my research on feminism.
Firstly, a few weeks ago there was an awful occurrence during a meeting of the Tokyo assembly when a female assembly member (one of the very small percentage of women holding political positions in Japan) was attempting to give a speech about the need to offer more assistance to working pregnant women and mothers, and was interpreted by sexist remarks from male assembly members from the ruling party (making statements such as “Before you say things like that, you’re the one who needs to get married quickly!”「そんなことを言う前に、おまえが早く結婚しないのかっ!」 and “Can you even bear children?!”「子どもは産めないのかっ！！」.
This event received harsh criticism from people in Japan and internationally, leading one of the hecklers to end up apologizing at a later date. All of my Japanese and international friends with whom I discussed this occurrence had similar attitudes of anger and disappointment; however, on a social media site I observed and interacted with some ex-pats living in Japan who both explicitly and implicitly supported the sexism being espoused by the assemblymen in their jeering comments.
On Facebook, one such acquaintance of an acquaintance asserted that while he agreed that the assemblymen were “wrong to make those comments,” he thinks that criticizing the assembly men and arguing for the necessity of gender equality in Japan is “just the same type of thinking that has fucked up Afghanistan, Iraq, etc…. Go in there with guns blazing, and expect them to pick up our own values overnight.” Further, he states, “And…. this may get me in trouble, but… It is nice to live in a country where women look like women, and politcal correctness isn’t always at the top of the agenda when it somes to the sexes[sic]”. Of course, I think that this analogy between the U.S. military involvement in the Middle East and international criticism of sexism in Japanese politics could not be more absurd. And I was just as troubled by his mocking of those who have spoken up against this act of sexism as merely being obsessed with “political correctness,” which is a common tactic to try to belittle those who are working for social change.
However, the unfortunate fact remains that there still are many people in Japan, both native residents and otherwise, (and in other contexts around the world of course) who agree with this notion that “women ought to look like women” and that sexual discrimination is acceptable. To me, such responses to occurrences like this one only further underscore the need for feminism in Japan, and serious dialogue about these issues everywhere. To that end, I’m going to share some articles about the assembly heckling, as well as some other feminism-related articles that I’ve come across recently:
If these articles happen to spark anyone’s interest about current feminism in Japan, I’d love to have a conversation with you about what I’ve been learning from my research lately. Alternatively, I think these books are excellent introductions: