Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Weightlifting in Japan

weightlifitng in japan barbell トレーニング バーベル
A barbell, a rare sight in Japan

   So my supervisors made the silly decision of saying “Write about your hobbies sometime.” While other people have nice cultural hobbies like Photography or tea ceremony, I personally am a big fan of weightlifting. For a little over a year now, it has been a solid part of my life, and I’m hoping to continue here in Japan.

   As you can imagine, telling Japanese people that my hobby is weightlifting is kind of like telling them that I flew down from Mars on an elephant. Weightlifting is about as popular here as Keirin bike racing is back in the States. (P.S. Keirin is awesome, look it up) Japanese are huge into running and biking and other endurance sports, but the idea of a bench press or a squat rack or even weights over 100 lbs are foreign to many Japanese gyms.

   There’s nothing wrong with this, and I have just as much respect for a person who can run a marathon as someone who bench presses 400 pounds. However, due partially to the fact that I am terrible at running, weightlifting just fits with me. It is a sport that is very tangible, in that it is quite clear that you have gotten stronger when you can lift, say, 50 or 100 lbs more than you could before. Similarly, whether you fail or succeed, the results are yours alone, which means that you are in complete control of your own successes and failures.

   Now I’m still new to lifting and relatively weak, but hopefully by sticking to a good plan I’ll be flipping cars before too long. I’ll post some more about my training up later, but if anybody out there reading wants to learn more, just let me know.





Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm vaguely famous!

Look who showed up in the Kyoto Newspaper! The picture's not that bad either (better than any of my ID pictures at least.)
Here’s a translation for those who struggle with Japanese.

“Seika Town’s New Coordinator for International Relations, American Kai Wiesner-Hanks”
=Seika Town Minami Ina Yazuma
From a young age, Kai loved Japanese food and had a strong interest in Japan, studying Japanese history in college. He also studied abroad in Tokyo, and was a member of the Taiko and Judo clubs. Having just graduated in May of this year, believing that this could be a chance to improve his Japanese, he applied to be a coordinator for international relations.
He says that Seika town and Tokyo are very different, and that Seika is a much greener place. There are also many children in town who often call out and talk to him in town. He hopes to teach these children some American games to held spread internationalization. Because he likes to cook, he also wants to try and teach Japanese people some recipes they may not know.”

Well, that is pretty much what I said. The cooking will be interesting to see how it goes, but as long as I can teach Japanese people to make a burrito sometime, I’ll be happy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Give ballet a chance

Mami Ballet Land 麻美バレエランド This past Sunday myself and another member of the planning and coordinating division had the opportunity to attend Mami Ballet Land’s 25th anniversary celebration performance at the Keshena Plaza right here in Seika town.

Now, before you say, “But Kai, I really can’t see you being interested in dance,” you should know I’ve been involved in swing dancing over the years but I’ve never much been one for real dance and the tights that come with it.

I have to say though; I was really impressed. Even though the girls (and three boys) were young, they were all incredibly talented. Before a crowd of roughly 1000 people, dancers as young as five went up and did a great job (The five year olds had a Teddy Bear themed dance that was quite possibly the cutest thing in the universe.) The older students were fantastic as well, including two girls who performed solo pieces. Guest star Laura Morera, a principal in the Royal Ballet, was there to finish off the performance. It was really cool to see how something from a different culture (ballet) can become such an engrained part of Japanese life. I probably won't be joining myself (me in tights would not be good for anyone,) but I was still really impressed with their show and hope to see some more in the future.




Monday, August 9, 2010

The New CIR in Seika Japan

Seika Town 精華町So apparently in order to celebrate the opening of this blog, the clouds disappeared today, so you can see the Nara, Kyoto, and Osaka without too much trouble. Of course the sun being out also means it is approximately nine thousand degrees and my pale skin turns Kentucky fried in a manner of seconds (Japanese summers are not for the faint of heart), but it is still amazing to look out and see so much of Japan’s history just a stone’s throw away.

Oh, by the way, name is Kai and starting last week Wednesday I took over as the Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) for Seika town, a town of over 36,000 people just south of Kyoto and north of Nara. The title implies much more power than I actually have (assistant/ helper to the planning division would be a more apt title), but I still get to do a variety of things to help promote internationalism in the town. This can run the gambit from writing the Town’s English newsletter to translating documents for the foreign residents of the town, and even helping out at events. I may even get the chance to plan and event if I can manage my schedule out right.

However, despite what I may say, I’m not the main focus of this blog. Rather, this blog is about the place that I have the good fortune of being able to work, Seika Town. Located about 15 minutes north of Nara City, an hour east of Osaka City, and just 30 minutes south of Kyoto City, Seika is basically smack dab in the middle of traditional Japanese Culture. After having lived in Tokyo for a year, it is nice to see a more traditional side of Japanese life, and the idyllic scenery (Japan is by far the greenest country I have ever seen. Well, except for Greenland) and wonderful people make me think that I’ll be very happy working here.

Seika Town Hall 精華町役場
Speaking of the people, I will say this about Seika; there are an astounding amount of children here, and I hope that I will get the chance to interact with these kids and teach them something about my home and American culture. They certainly seem receptive to me and I’ve already played hide and go seek with a few of them when I should have probably been working. Of course, there’s more than just kids here, and the adults I’ve met so far have been great in teaching me all about Seika Town and Japan. In particular, the folks here seem very excited to teach me the Kansai dialect. It’s great to feel so welcome, even though the difference in dialect can sometimes make me feel as if all of my Japanese study was for nothing.

Even though I’ve only been here in Seika Town for a little while, I’m already excited for the coming years. And for it to stop being so hot.


Seika Town 精華町でも、このブログのテーマは私ではないですね。このブログのテーマは精華町よ!奈良と京都と大阪の間中にあって、本当に日本の文化を感じられると思います。私は一年間東京に住んでいましたが、日本の伝統的なところを見ることが出来るのを本当に喜んでいます。景色もきれいだし、人たちも優しいし、精華町で働くのを楽しみしています。