An interview with Dan from Japanese Castle Explorer

Ok everyone today Im having an interview with a good twitter friend of mine! His name his Daniel O’Grady his is the owner, webmaster writer of the wonderful website Japanese Castle Explorer website.

If you never took a look at his website please after reading this go check it out!

http://www.japanese-castle-explorer.com/index.html

you can also follow him on twitter @jcexplorer

http://twitter.com/jcexplorer

Here is Dan getting it done with a real ninja (yes they do exist hihihi)

Ok let’s get this started!

Hello Dan how are you today!?

I am great and really happy about your interview today!

It is my pleasure.


When did you first came too Japan?

I came to Japan in 2001 more precisely in August

What made you decide to come to Japan?

Way back when, I was doing some martial arts (Karate & Iai-do) and at the same time my interests in other aspects of Japanese culture were developing. Nothing to deep but I started to notice things like bonsai, ukiyo-e, samurai, castles… Anyway one day my sister showed me in the newspaper that there were some job offerings teaching English in Japan. And fortunately, due to Nova’s we’ll-take-anyone policy, I was on my way.

How could you say your living experiance in japan changed your life?

The short answer is, completely.

It’s difficult to answer further because I don’t have my alternate life to compare it to….. but, some of the obvious things are, I met my wife, had kids. Kinda massive.

What do you love about japan?

Castles, chicken-katsu-curry-cheese-mix, the ability to travel around with relative ease.

What don’t you like in japan?

So rigid. And what is the deal with the megaphones?

Will you ever leave?

Yes. Unless Japan is the island from Lost.

Now about your website
When did you start the  Japanese Castle Explorer?

Hmmm… early 2000’s

Why did you start the site?

I have an I.T background, I like Japanese castles. Another big factor was that I needed something to occupy myself. And that it did, but it also put me on the road to learning something.

Where was your passion for castles born?

Taiko by Yoshikawa Eiji! This book is about the life & times (mid-late 1500’s) of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of Japan’s three unifier. There are plenty of descriptions of some of Japan’s most important castles, ranging from “overnight-built” forts to the nation’s most lavish.


Where do you want Japanese Castle Explorer to be in 5 years?


Hmmm… somewhere between facebook, wikipedia & youtube. Too ambitious?

Are you the only one behind the JCE?

Yes, I programmed the site, took the pictures(most), shot & hosted the video(just one & probably shouldn’t admit to it), researched the castles & wrote all the descriptions.

Dan future ride! kidding but as he told me the day he saw that car in japan he was like a kid in a candy store!

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Chronicle of a young woman in Japan

Chronicle of a young woman in Japan

Ok in this post I had an interview with a friend of mind, she used to live in Japan and I really wanted her to share a little bit of her experiences living there. She is also managing and writing for the mecha genki bento blog

http://mechagenkibento.blogspot.com/

And why not follow her on twitter! Here is her page:

http://twitter.com/mecha_genki

Let’s get this interview started!

Hello Nichola how are you?

I am really good today! how about you Yugo?

Hihihihi Super great


How’d you first get interested in Japan?

The year before I started high school I had to decide what language I was going to study (we had to study a language for the first two years at my high school).  Making such a big decision when you are 12 is a bit hard!  We had the choice of Japanese, German, French or Maori.  I was tossing up between Japanese and German.  My Dad phoned his cousin who had also studied Japanese at school.  He is a lawyer, and at the time I also wanted to be a lawyer.  He said having Japanese had been useful for having Japanese clients, so I decided to do Japanese (I did not end up being a lawyer though!).  After studying Japanese for two compulsory years, I figured I might as well continue on because I’d put in that much effort already, which was the same reason I kept studying it right up until my second year at university).


When did you first go to Japan?

My first trip to Japan was in 6th form (when I was 16).  My high school did an exchange with our sister school in Matsuyama, Ehime.  We had two weeks in Matsuyama and then another week going to Beppu, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo.  30 girls between 14 and 18, with just two teachers!


Where have you been in Japan?

Matsuyama, Uchiko, Beppu, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kurashiki, Matsue, Okayama, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Koyasan, Hakone, Himeji, Yokohama, Tokyo.


What was it like living in Japan?

AWESOME!!!!  I lived in Osaka and taught English by video conferencing (it looked a bit like a call centre).  There were about 450 on the English team, and about 750 altogether in my building, working three shifts (it was 24hrs and we had six languages).
The whole move was so easy because the company I worked for (NOVA) arranged all your visas and stuff.  They rented apartments to teachers (which they charged you wayyyyy more than market rents, but that is another story, and I figured the ease of it made it all even out in the end).
The week I started there was about 30 of us, the same started the week before and the week after.  I have heard stories of some people going and being stuck in a small town, having to be friends with people just for the sake of it and not really enjoying it.  I was lucky there were so many of us – I lived in the same city for university but I can imagine it would be a bit like going away to university.
I worked one early shift (7:30am – 3pm) and four lates (3pm – 10:40pm).  Life was very easy because you pretty much had the whole day free. I could get up and go to a gym class and then be back home by 8:30 and still have almost a whole day before work!  Because I can speak Japanese things were quite easy, and Osaka is such a big city that you can always get food from home/watch English tv/buy NZ wine etc.  Day to-day living is very cheap in Japan and I used to ride my bike everywhere (one day I even rode to Hyogo prefecture!!).  Ignorance is bliss in some ways too because it always seemed like the really important stuff was translated into English, so if there was anything I couldn’t understand I didn’t really mind.
My first flat was with two girls from work, and then I moved to another flat with a Japanese girl.  Quite often my friend Amy and I would have what we called “I can’t believe we’re in Japan” moments where just the coolest stuff would happen and we couldn’t believe we were experiencing it.  Sometimes we used to sit on the 15th floor break room at work and look down at Osaka (we were the tallest building for miles) and just stare.


What do you think is the best thing about Japan?

Japan is the land of extremes – to me that is it’s best point and worst point.  There are just so many things to do, everything is just so different, you could be in Osaka 100 years and always find something to do.  I used to love just riding my bike around all day and exploring new neighborhoods  because it isn’t like suburbia here. It’s like so many villages together.
People are so friendly and helpful  – every time I’ve been to Tokyo I only have to open a map and people have rushed up to help!
Going to the doctor used to amaze me – it seemed the smaller your problem the better the treatment – once I had an insect bite that went yuck.  I went to the doctor but didn’t see a GP like at home, it was a proper dermatologist who gave me this amazing cream.  Another time Amy had an eye infection and I went with her to see this proper eye doctor!
You can drink in public too.  That is pretty cool!


What do you think is the worst thing about Japan?

Sometimes Japan isn’t flexible and there seem to be rules that can’t be broken for no reason.  People don’t think outside the square sometimes, and if there are two ways of doing something you can often guarantee it will be the long way! My gym used to shut two random days each month for “cleaning”.  ATMs used to shut on weekends, even though they are automated! (not sure if this is still the case).


How’d you get into bento-ing?

After I joined weight watchers I was googling healthy lunch ideas and thought I’d see about bento ideas, because I bought a Hello Kitty bento when I went to Japan at high school.  I was expecting just boring normal stuff – I had no idea about what bento are like nowadays!  I like cooking and baking, and needed a new hobby (cupcakes aren’t weight watchers friendly), so pretty much just decided to start making bento.  Then I got onto twitter and started making bento friends and started getting inspired by them all.  My friend Sarah then suggested I make a blog to keep track of them all.   I live by myself so it’s hard to buy lots of ingredients and use them up before they go off, but I’ve learnt that all it takes is a little thought, and making things and freezing where possible.  I can’t wait until I go to Japan in July and can buy lots more bento goods!


When is the next time you will go to Japan?
July this year! I can NOT wait! I’m going with my friend and her husband for just under a week, and then I have just over a week by myself.

Hope you liked this post, hoped it will show you a little bit more insight into the life of foreigners in Japan!

Yugo

Nice interview with Pearl!

You must wonder who is Pearl ??

Here I am! I will introduce her to you!

Pearl is a Japanese singer and musician I met through twitter. Since then I must say I listen to her myspace page mostly every day. Since her songs make me happy and I’m totally in love with them I wanted to make an interview with her so you can first get to know her and second so you could all enjoy her wonderful music.

http://profile.myspace.com/pearlychild

http://twitter.com/pearl_piano

Hello Pearl how are you today?

”Im pretty fine thank you very much!”

When did you start music?

”I started to learn piano when I was little. At first, my grandma taught me how to play then when I was 6 I started to take piano lessons.

I wanted to major piano at university and become a concert pianist, but like  many things in life  I couldn’t. I graduated from an ordinary university then worked and forgot music.”

What made you start again?

”A few years ago I got sick, and I’m still undergoing  treatment, this situation made me think about my old passion. I really thought that I should live and I should do all the things I want to do till I die. From there I started to play again.”


Is music an inspiration for you?

”Music helped me all through my life. It helps me now and I think music help so many people around the world to go though many hard situation.”

On your myspace page you sing and do you play other instruments?

”I must say I think my singing is not good, but I want to move people’s soul with music. I play the piano and the flute.
When I was little I joined the local chorus and I played the flute at school brass band.
In my University days, I played the flute at chamber orchestra, sang  chorus for Russian folk songs, and joined a piano circle.
Also joined international friendship circle and theatrical company. I was really busy back in those days.”

What motivates you when you sing or write songs?

”Everything motivates me, especially things of nature, water, moon, plants….etc
I sometimes ask guests to give me theme and improvise  live.”

When you play how can you describe your feeling?

”humm this is hard in English! I’m thinking of moving people. I try to feel them feel their souls. I try to send them something that will move them ….lol”
Since you started music again what did you accomplish?

”I created a music circle in Niigata. It’s called “International Friendship with Music”. At first I wanted to do 2 things, a music circle and an international friendship one. After thinking about it I realized  it would be hard to manage two circles, so I thought of unifying them. People may laugh, but I believe if there is music, borders are meaningless.”

What music do you like to listen ?

”I listen to all kinds of music. In childhood, my parents were listening classical, jazz, bossa nova and many Japanese tunes.

Now I still enjoy those types plus I listen to rock and R&B, too.
I love ethnic music and I absolutely check world music corner at CD shop.”

In the future where would you like to be with your music?
”I don’t know, but anywhere. I want to move help and heal people all around the world.
Thanks to internet, I can send my music to the whole world. I’m  trying hard to keep on sending good music.
And it would be nice if I could ease someone’s mind and cheering up him.
Thank you so much Pearl
”Your welcome, I love you all.”

Again if you want to listen to Pearl’s music just go visit her myspace page.
http://profile.myspace.com/pearlychild

An interview with Guillaume Marcotte from Tokyoluv

Today I’m bringing you in the world of Guillaume Marcotte or as most people call him Mac. Guillaume is a French Canadian from Montreal. He moved in Tokyo in November 2009, to in a way escape the dreaded Canadian winter and to accomplish a dream of his. Mac is an urban fan, he love the atmosphere and the vibration of a big city. He grew up in the suburbs around Montreal, when he got is first job he quickly made the move to the city of Montreal and ever since kept his passion for big metropolis. Now he lives in one of the biggest and busiest city in the world Tokyo.

Here is Mac

Guillaume is an up and coming photographer, he owns the www.tokyoluv.com website which

as an incredible daily collection of photos, and he now writes and takes picture for the famous Japanese fashion website xojapan.jp.

Here is my interview with Mac

Hello Guillaume, how are you today?

” I’m doing pretty fine today”

What is your favorite quote or life motto?

”You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

When did you start photographing?

”Not so long ago unlike many people think, just over a year. But since I got my first SLR I’ve shot every day, everything, with everyone. I’ve learned from great photographers and I think my graphic design background

help me progress in photography.”

What are your interest in Japan?

”Tokyo, I’ve always loved city, I’ve grew up in the suburb and as soon I got a job to pay a rent I moved to Montreal. I also went to New-York city countless times and now I moved in the biggest and most interesting city in the world.”

What truly touch you since you moved to Japan?

”It’s the people maybe, or at least how respectful everyone are to each other, I wish it could be the same in north America. I think it is something we are lacking else where in the world.”

Do you speak Japanese?

”I speak English , French and I’ve been trying to improve on my Japanese’, but I’m still at basic conversation level, like, “Bar” conversation level hehe.”

What did living in Japan brought you in your life?

”Joy, maybe… I wasn’t unhappy back home, but it seems like every day in Japan is a new adventure. I am always meeting new people and experiencing unique stuff, I guess the kind of work I do help thought…”

Where do you

picture your self in 5 years?

”If it’s not a photographer in Tokyo, then I really don’t want to think about it. Plus as long as I find work to pay my rent and onigiri I’ll stay around here.”

What kind of music do you like? any Japanese bands?

”I love electro music, my favorite band are Boys Noize, The Qemists and MSTRKRFT. I also like smooth stuff like shirft, Emiliana Torrini and Radiohead. I don’t know many Japanese artist beside FLOPPY and Hatsune Miku, if she really count like one ^_^”

And to finish off could you tell us what are you working on at the moment?

Well of course there is always my website tokyoluv.com which I try to update everyday with some original photos, also I’ve recently start blogging for xojapan.jp a blog about fashion in Tokyo, those people are super cool. I’ve been shooting more and more fashion lately and I have a new project in progress that I will announce soon. I’m always open to collaboration and proposition too! ^_^

Of course I strongly recommend you to visit his web site.

If you are also interested to communicate with Guillaume all his contact info are on his web site or just click here

It was a pleasure fo me to bring you a little insight in the life of a gaijin photographer in Japan hope you liked it.

Yugo

I will leave you with some of my favorite pictures taken by Mac and that you can view on his web site.

all the pictures used in this post are copyrighted and belong to Guillaume Marcotte

New Interview section

Ok today I’m creating a new section on Gaijinlife.

The Interview section, in this new section I will conduct interview with some people I’ve met on twitter and in my time in Japan. I think this section will bring a nice new twist to Gaijinlife. It will help you understand more the life of gaijins in Japan and the type of experiences those people are living. I really hope you will enjoy this new section! The first new post in that section will come in really soon! Be sure to check them out!

I will leave you today with a wonderful picture taken by Guillaume Marcotte freelance photographer in Japan and owner of the wonderful website

tokyoluv.com