Sayonara Japan, words I didn’t think I’d be uttering after just having pretty much arrived in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, OK so it’s been almost three years since our departure from Bali. Time flies. I may hasten to add that this is a ‘Sayonara’ in the sense of “We’re outta here” as opposed to a ‘Sayonara’ in a sense of “Good Riddance”. Whilst there are a number of contributing factors the one underlying catalyst for my rapidly flicking through the English / Japanese dictionary for the farewell announcement is a simple one, earthquakes! I simply cannot get used to them, and if the truth be told, quite frankly, I hate the buggers.
Yesterday, Tuesday 13th September we had one jolt in the morning at around 8.30pm, enough to rattle the pens in my penholder on my work desk. Roughly 12hrs later we had another much more pronounced wobble which was enough to rattle the plates in the kitchen cabinets. Today I have also felt at least one tiny wobble. It’s as of the plates on which Tokyo sits has found some long lost affinity for punk music and is ‘po-go’ing’ like a mad one trying to catch up for lost time. It’s crazy. Then I get to thinking “OK, so our Son is just turning Four, he’s enrolled in a Nursery and is going great, plenty of friends, gets along with most things, good times. I can’t wrap my head around the potential that the ‘Big One’ that so many people are convinced is due to happen, could strike whilst Josh is at school, a school which is located on the ground floor of a building with an additional 15 storeys above his head. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
In addition to the Quake issue there are other factors that drove our decision. It is hard enough to find enough work here as an imaging professional if one is Japanese let alone if one happens to be a foreigner. There are some success stories and I know a slew of good guys who have made great inroads and carved good careers for themselves within Japan as photographers. All of these guys have invested a huge amount to effort and above all time, and I’m talking multiple years, into being where they are now. Would this again be possible given the current standard of technology, the ease with which that is available to the masses and with the burgeoning competition within the imaging game, would emulating their success be possible in the modern time with yet another entity, myself, entering the fray? I’m not looking for an easy solution to anything, I’m the first one to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in however when the main hurdle is not based on one’s ability but more so on the inability to communicate I think that changes the game profoundly. Japanese, whilst a proud and accepting race, are also well known for closing ranks when outsiders look to either enter into their ranks or simply look for ways to observe a specific industry such as Photography from a commercial standpoint.
Additionally the communication issue is one that also permeates our personal life. Whilst Terri, my wife, speaks impeccable English, I speak very little Japanese. I understand more than I am able to speak which is one of the first signs of learning a language, or at least through my experience given that I speak four European Languages, alas I am not there yet. Am I willing to go through the whole process of learning yet another language, an obstacle amplified with the lacking of a Roman based alphabet? I would have to answer that in the negative. Joshua is also at that age where he is absorbing everything almost sponge like that goes on around him, language included. His main spoken influence is Japanese, at school, the TV and with the rest of Terri’s family who speak limited, if any, English between them. This all pretty much boils down to the fact that whilst I can hold pidgin English chats with my own Son I cannot engage in the rambling conversations he has with Terri, the rest of the family or his friends. It’s not a very nice experience to have to continually ask for translations for the words being spoken by one’s own offspring.
So with all of these elements in the bowl, and the associated propensity for Tsunami’s, Volcanic Eruptions, Typhoons and Tidal Waves we’ve decided the best thing is to head for an English spoken first World setting where education and medical options for a growing lad are the standard. Quite where that will be is as yet to be decided. Given that no one can also wholeheartedly and categorically prove or state that the Fukushima issue is also under control, which we highly doubt, is pretty much the nail in the coffin. We haven’t ruled out a return to my native UK as it’s a place in which Terri, for some reason, has a very strong desire to live. If there is one thing we are striving for in all of this is to find a rural setting away from the hustle and bustle of a city environment, a place with open space enough for a hyperactive young lad to run himself ragged of a day, a place that yields easily reached wilderness in which I can continue with my imaging either as a mainstream or to compliment and augment the services of an entity that could be aligned with in the long term if such an option were to be considered.
Should you, as a reader of these words, be in a position to either consider or know of people who could consider my complimenting their creative agency or production entity and who may be interested in discussing possibilities then please feel free to pass on my information and web details. One thing is for sure though, I’ll be keeping you up to speed on the ongoing adventures. Watch this space.