I personally hate newspaper articles, magazine stories and blogs that fail to address all of my questions. Really... it's just W51H: who, what, where, when, why and how.
Those are the tenants of good journalism, and something I find lacking quite often in the rush to present as many stories as possible without actually presenting more than glorified headlines.... and no, I'm not talking about Twitter, because responsible writers and journalists use Twitter to point back at a more complete article or story.
Speaking of social media...
It’s a good thing I have so many wonderful contacts on LinkedIn. It was thanks to them and it that I figured out why they were wishing me a happy work anniversary.
Well, on this day, eight years ago in 2009, I published my very first Japan—It’s A Wonderful Rife blog… sort of…
Back then it was just called It’s A Wonderful Rife (no Japan), though it was, of course, all about Japan. I think I changed it up about a year later, as I figured having the word Japan in the headline would make it more likely to be found by an internet search engine.
When I started, I thought the only way to build an audience was to present good material. If you blog it, they shall come.
Then I realized as of February of 2011, that if I publish a blog everyday, Google might think I am all right and would, because I was presenting new material, place me high on the list of page searches or people looking for material about Japan.
Maybe they did that… but then it all gets superseded by people purchasing SEO placement at the top of the search engine page… some deserve their rank, but a quick perusal of their blog or website will point fingers at just who bought their way to the top.
This blog is hardly near the top of any search engine. My Pioneers of Aviation blog is… especially if you search for aviation pioneers or pioneers of aviation… but that’s a specialist blog best enjoyed by about 40 people from around the world.
Japan—It’s A Wonderful Rife is also a specialist blog, but one that has more people interested in it because - well, people are interested in Japan far more than they are about biplanes and dirigibles.
I originally started Japan—It’s A Wonderful Rife on July 11, 2009 as a ways to showcase the 90 old stories I had written for various JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme AET (assistant English teacher) newsletters… where I published one, sometimes multiple adventures of myself in Japan. It was going to be 90 blog posts and done. Really. In my head I figured some book publisher would see it and want to collect it into a book and I'd be richer than JK Rowling.
Ha... I knew that was never going to happen (the latter part of it, I mean). I've been one of the few literary agents in Canada... and why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free... an old adage I first heard at a strip club - one of several I would frequent on a weekly basis after leaving Japan. Oh, the stories I could tell you about that time of my life!
Even the most mundane activity of where my friends and I sat at a strip joint could be a full-fledged chapter... I think I've figured out how to make anything interesting. I once had to write 2,500 words on corrugated (cardboard)... so yeah...
And, it was never "pervert's row" at the foot of the stage(s).
Oh yeah... Japan—It's A Wonderful Rife.
It was not me whining about how different and sucky Japan was, rather it was me poking fun at myself and actually all the other foreigners in Japan who would go on about how sucky it was that Japan was so different.
Dudes (and dudettes)… Japan being different is why most people became interested in going to work and live in Japan in the first place.
Me? I had a different reason… while I didn’t even want to go, the initial reason I even contemplated it was because I wanted to lose my virginity. You can read my first blog HERE, entitled House of the Rising Son, because it was a nice play on words of the old Animal's rock song House of the Rising Sun, (like my blog title is a play on words of the old Frank Capra movie It's A Wonderful Life).
Anyhow, because I never know what I’m going to write about, let alone how I’m going to write it until I actually physically write it, I can’t claim to say that it was my plan to be self-deprecating in my blog writing… but that’s what it was/is/will be.
By the way, I used to hand-write every single blog for the first two years, and then type it out on the computer - it was a way for me to write on the subway, or in my car as I sat in a parking lot decompressing and digesting at lunch.
It’s funny, though, the one time out of nearly 3,700 blogs that I really wasn’t self-deprecating, people called me an ego-maniac. Figures.
I would write my basically 100% true life Rife stories—maybe add a bit of background color, but hardly need to exaggerate… and come off looking every bit the scared little boy I was…
Nothing like brutal self-honesty... which I think is something most blogs lack. Good or bad, I present myself and my situations as they were, because that's the whole point of writing about yourself, isn't it?
One blog writer I respect 100%, even if I don't always agree with his opinions, is Mike Rogers' Marketing Japan blog... who lays it out there for people to see, and doesn't give a crap what anyone thinks about him. I secretly believe he likes that I like him, however.
My weak spot - and perhaps it's ego - is that I do care what people say about me.
To my credit and detriment, when I write about a Japanese topic, I rarely pick sides... and try to present as many angles of both sides of an argument as possible in the hopes you, the reader, will come to your own conclusion.
I'd rather teach people and let them formulate their own opinions, than preach my own.
In my opinion (ha), I believe the reader is smart enough to learn without being told what to learn.
Rare was the time I lamented how Japanese culture was inferior to my own. If I did, I regret it.
Everyone’s culture is their own… and the only inferiority there is from people who don’t get that people are different, but inherently the exact same.
That’s what this blog has always striven to show.
While people around the world might show it in different ways, there is still that love of country, family, distaste of job - everybody loves - everybody hates... regardless of where one is born or where one grows up or where one lives.
Yes, sometimes Japan does things in ways that seem ass-backwards to myself and others… but it’s not for me to ridicule… it’s just the way things are.We can have a laugh at it, if we want, but we should never say a country or its people are stupid for doing things in that way.
Do we understand why they do things that way? Aye, there's the rub... and probably a fascinating story to boot.
When I write about the differences in Japanese culture from my own, it was actually more about me lamenting the fact that I didn’t UNDERSTAND the Japanese culture enough… and because I’m who I am, that lack of understanding frequently contributed to whatever mess I managed to get myself into over there in the first place.
The stories don’t have to be written with anger about Japan, rather if I choose to show anger, it’s because of my own inability to circumnavigate the situation.
Whether that was in how to travel from one place to another; how to marry a woman; being unable to figure out why Japan’s counting system is so complex; or even how come everyone knows exactly what I’m doing and who I’m doing…Japan was a wonderful rife.
I spent about five years writing about the near day-to-day life of my time in Japan. With the exception of a few specific topics, I would bet you could actually transpose those adventures into plenty of different parts of the world.
I was just a weirdness magnet. Stuff happens. I see the humor in it all, and I think most readers here do, too.
Weird, interesting and mostly fun stuff found its way to me all the time. I think you have to have your eyes open, too.
It’s so funny… I read blogs about other people in Japan and it’s just one crap storm after another for them. They’re angry and upset almost all of the time.
While most of my articles nowadays revolve on placing a unique spin on news items or researching a bit of Japaneseness, occasionally I revisit old wounds, … er stories and situations surrounding myself, taking a more or less mature outlook to provide a new peek at old things.
That will continue…
As usual, for those that do so, I appreciate the articles and topic leads you provide. As you have seen, I often utilize them. When I don’t, it’s because I’m usually busy with something else (work, blog, sports coaching or life), and then when I have a moment of clarity, chances are good that I’ve forgotten your lead.
Sorry. It’s never a snub.
So… eight years on, and who knows how many more to go.
It’s been a real challenge to write a blog every day for six straight years, too… it’s turned me a bit OCD… as I have to publish once a day now.
No… there’s no real reason, except that I like to write about stuff I know little about so I have a reason for learning new stuff.
One of the mantras I developed upon arriving in Japan was: if you didn’t learn anything new today, you wasted the day.
I continued that mantra through to this day… and this blog and others and just a real curiosity about people and things… well… regardless of how I feel on somedays, I haven’t wasted the day.
Thanks to you people for helping ensure I don’t waste the day.
Somewhere, it’s still a wonderful rife,
Andrew "He knows he won" Joseph
PS: The photo above is of Kristine S., a beautiful young American woman of half-Japanese decent I met pretty much my first evening in Japan - a woman with whom I shared my first Rife adventure with (HERE)... a woman who saved my life that first evening in Japan... a woman I should have tried harder to hit on... and a woman who a few years ago told me she would have slept with me in Japan... a woman who traveled 500 km to use my Ohtawara-shi apartment as a base while she sight-saw... a woman who found me to be too disgustingly sick when she visited to do no more for me than to give me oral... medicine. Sorry... button got stuck.
She was also a woman who, when AETs met for a JET meeting, would hang around with my girlfriend or ex-girlfriend... and would never tell me what the fug they were talking about as I was never allowed to be near them or bother them on such occasions.
Such situations invariable lent itself to me getting extremely drunk. You never want your girlfriend to talk about anything with the woman you want to sleep with. Even if it had nothing to do with you/me. It probably didn't... it was probably a Kristine ploy to mindfug me even if she could mind me fugging... aw, whatever... you know what I mean.
Anyhow... see what I mean about how weird stuff follows me around? There was that great story about the women, and then there's the story about me getting hammered - but how did I get hammered? I entered a sake drinking contest, winning, found someone's camera in the men's room, took pictures of myself with their camera (no... not of the upper body), broke into a hotel diorama exhibit, passed out, woke up to find myself in a forest, didn't have a hangover, and discovered that even though I did such naughty things, it was still a wonderful rife.
Hee... I just thought about the camera owner... who, when he got his camera back, took his film to be developed, and when he went to pick up the photos, the girls at the shop always open up the envelope of photos and pick out one or two to make sure that they belong to the photographer... I can see them pulling out one of those candid shots of myself, and he wondering what the hell had happened as the photo shop women giggled behind raised hand over the mouth.
Okay... long over due, but to that camera owner... I'm sorry I was such a dick.