New layout

It’s about time, too. I liked the old one, but that was some random image I lifted from stock.xchng, and I’ve taken plenty of my own photos in the meantime. (Speaking of which, there are some new ones at my Flickr gallery, of musical rehearsals and Engrish.)

I’m already finding things I can nitpick about this layout…like maybe removing the subtitle, trying to figure out how to brighten the header image, and so on.

There’s a story behind the name, if you were wondering. So I’ll tell people that I was either going to Japan (before I left) or that I’m currently living here, and every single person, without fail, asked me, “Oh, so you’re in Tokyo, right?”

To be honest, this started to really annoy me, because Tokyo’s only a small part of everything Japan is! It’s a huge megalopolis, yes, but there are 46 other prefectures, one of which I live in (and it’s in what I believe is the most rural and most “untouched” region of Japan), and I’m hundreds of miles from the Kanto region. And there’s so, so much more to Japan besides its most famous and largest city.

But then it hit me: before I was accepted to JET, I found it really difficult to envision anything in Japan that wasn’t the huge sprawling cities that make it into western newscasts, or the images of pristine temples and picture-perfect mountains/volcanoes surrounded by busy streets and tall buildings. And in that, it hit me that urban Japan has succeeded in how it wants to present itself to the world; it’s proud of its heritage, but to compete with the rest of the world, it wants to be seen as being as modern and sophisticated and cutting-edge as the US and Europe. Therefore, the inaka never, ever makes it into western news broadcasts, and therefore, it’s extremely difficult to envison what life in rural Japan–which a huge chunk of Japan is comprised of–is like.

And it isn’t the only way that Japan has succeeded…this article is a good example of that. It’s about a foreign man who’s lived in Tokyo for many years, and he makes some very bold statements about the current state of Japan and how un-Japanese it’s becoming. It’s painfully apparent that he’s spent very, very little time outside of urban Japan, or he’d have something quite different to say. Rural Japan has succeeded in staying extremely traditional and avoiding this wave of brute modernism in many ways. It’s modernizing, true, but only very slowly, and not at the breakneck speeds of Japan’s major cities, and it maintains the heritage and traditions that it’s kept up for so many generations now. Of course Tokyo will have more foreigners–it’s the capitol and the biggest city in the world! On the other hand, I would venture a guess that the cities of Shikoku haven’t changed very much in the past several decades, except to incorporate some new things, like cellphones (no matter where in Japan you are, that’s one piece of cutting-edge technology you’ll never escape) and other “modern conveniences.”

So, yeah. In short, this is most definitely not Tokyo. Just thought I’d make that clear.

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