Hi, I’m Menzie and I’ll be your white boy obsessed with Japan for this blog. I know there are plenty of us out there, so some credentials might be in order.
A little bit about my background:
I was born and raised in the Boston area, and grew up in the same town as Masako Odawa, the crown princess of Japan. We went to the same high school but at different times. Ripples of influence could be felt in the town. We called them tour buses.
My first grade teacher married a survivor of the Hiroshima bombings. Consequently she incorporated Japanese language and culture into our normal lessons. This gave me my first exposure to the culture and a drive to learn more. Universities such as MIT and Harvard drew a large international influence to Boston, so I was able to continue delving into my curiosity for Japanese culture easily. At this point more focused on the pop culture side. Harvard Square was very good for that, as was the small Japantown in Inman Square. My interest turned more academic as I entered college. I took courses in Japanese film, Japanese literature and Japanese Language. I’ve always done a bit of research and reading on Japanese culture, religion, popular culture, music, film and history for my own interest and that continues to this day.
After college I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, and In August of 2007 I began a six month contract position as an Assistant Language Teacher, returning to the San Francisco Bay Area after its completion. I lived in Yamagata, in the Tohoku region. The most landlocked you can possibly be while in Japan. I traveled to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Sendai. I journeyed with friends who came to visit, visited a high school friend who is a native Japanese living in Tokyo, and basically balanced living my life and exploring.
Since returning I look at things a little differently. Any big journey will do that to a person. I still keep in contact with some of my former students, teachers and coworkers from Japan. I can’t help but compare life here and in Japan. The sad reality always shines through. When I’m living in one place, I miss the other.