Friend in need is Friend indeed

I have a wonderful friend who really care about me, my dream and my ideal life. I’m not talking about my girlfriend thing, but true best friend. She comes from Illinois, US to Japan as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). Fortunately I and she have been teaching English together for more than a couple of years. We are the same age, so we can share a lot of unique thoughts without any generational gaps. I have never seen a foreigner whom I can talk with more friendly or without any stress.

She is of course a genius and inspirational English teacher, and at the same time, she seems to have great talent to make a wonderful gifts. In the last time of my birthday, she gave me a cool, leather touch black notebook and pen. I thought she gave me this because she was disappointed with me, who is always talking like I want to be a writer or novelist, and haven’t finished writing a decent story. However, the moment I opened several pages of the book, I was so surprised because there was memos inside of the book, the topics for me to write about. There are topics I would never hit upon but wanted to write about somehow. And the first memo was like this.

Tomo’s Idea Notebook Happy Birthmas! (*my birthday is December 23rd)

I hope you enjoy writing in this notebook. I found some writing prompts for you that I thought were interesting. I hope that they inspire ideas for you to write about.

This gift isn’t just a notebook, it’s also an invitation for you to let me check your English any time you want, and a promise that I’ll always support your writing journey! Even when I’m in Sapporo, even when I’m in America (or the moon or wherever there’s wifi)

I believe in you as a writer and I hope you do too. I really enjoy reading what you write, and I can’t wait to buy your book someday!

The first memo inside the notebook

You can’t imagine how happy face did I have at the moment I found the memo, and I realize how am I fortunate. Thank you so so much. I’ve been in lazy for these several months. But from now, let me write about the topics you gave me. Thanks to you, I think I can start to write.

Thank you very much for reading the article. I would prefer your comments or some other topic requests for me to write. Please write a comment or give me an email through contact page.


Visiting Urban Area Makes You A Bit Updated

Living in the northern part of Japan, which is called Hokkaido prefecture, the most frequently asked question for you is “Do you live in Sapporo?”. Holy crap. Hokkaido is the biggest in Japan out of 47 prefectures. Therefore, Hokkaido has the land as large as three ordinary prefectures. Sapporo is recognized as the capital of Hokkaido, but it doesn’t mean everyone from Hokkaido lives near around Hokkaido. Like me, I live in a very country side of Hokkaido and it takes about 5 hours drive to access Sapporo (30 min. flying from the nearest airport).

So, everyone asks me about Sapporo but actually, I don’t know much about Sapporo. I was once very surprised that some of my Tokyoite friends had never been to some very Tokyo symbolic places. I said “Why you don’t go there? So many TV shows featured the spot!” Then he or she just says, “I don’t know but it seems very crowded and am too lazy to go there” or like that. Now I can understand them if I think about Sapporo.

The reason why I’m writing about Sapporo tonight is because I came to Sapporo with my family as a winter holiday trip (and to celebrate my mother’s happy retirement, which should have done in 2021). People are wearing masks as my living place, but there are simply more people, more diverse people there. Every shop staffs seems more polite and kind compared with my neighbor shops, tastes of restaurant or stands are felt sophisticated. So, every time I came to this kind of urban area, I could feel a bit updated. You can see a lot of things different from your ordinary days. Take a look at curry rice for example. Do you see which is urban curry rice?

You see? The latter one is Sapporo’s. Even my way of taking photographs seems so sophisticated. These are the very symbolic photos which shows the difference between urban and country so clearly. You know? The difference is such an apparent.

But I don’t care which you prefer or not. I love both of curry, and I feel we are living in the age of hybrid, meaning you don’t have to choose just one side, but you should enjoy both and respect each other’s good sides. Hybrid is not just about Prius but us.

All you need is best friend

Had a tough kendo Keiko (kind of practice in traditional Japanese) tonight, and came back to home around 9 o’clock and then, suddenly I got a call from one of my precious best friend living in Tokyo. He was in trouble. He will take a internal test to become a train conductor. His trouble was how to deal with an interview test. They would ask why do you want to be a train conductor, but he can’t hit upon a good answer, then he called me to counsel with it.

Actually, I couldn’t hit upon any good idea, so all I could do was just have a good time talking with him. I started to drink sake, and he did So too. I confessed my personal love issue to him, and since he has been married for 3years and has already a kid, his advice was really useful and worth hearing. Then I advised him to have such kind of attitude with confidence like the moment. Then he somehow understood how to deal with the test.

Above all, sometimes I really think all I need is best friend to share problems, happiness and something else. Sharing and talking together about our unexpected future is such a fun thing. Maybe, it would be one of our reasons why we live. Unless this COVID situation, We can still share many things with our best friends. I really appreciate it in this era. But hopefully, I want to meet them directly again someday very soon.

Is that Really Your Favorite Thing?

Hello everyone. “What is your favorite thing?” is a typical Japanese English textbook question. What is your favorite sports, movies, novels… you can create many series of this type of this questions. Anyway, we often talk about our favorite things or things we love. Some people can talk about their favorite things with enthusiasm. They really talk a lot even though I don’t have any interests on the topic. However, their faces when they are talking about their favorite things are really looked fulfilled and cool. During such time, I often think of myself who doesn’t have any specific favorite thing. If I were asked “What do you like?”, I would say “I like fresh clean air in countryside, and rice”. I cannot tell somebody why I love those things or how much money I have been investing to get such things.

Somebody loves collecting things. But I don’t. When I finish reading manga of “Damon Slayer”, I was so touched, but that doesn’t make me to keep owing volumes. I just keep the memories in my mind, and I sold them on Internet flea market site. It got really high price though, some of my friends who love the series said to me “You are so disgraceful”. I want to live simple life. I would rather collect precious memories in my heart instead of keeping stuffs. Things in your heart never be robbed or rusted.

Holi festival in India (throwing color powder each other to celebrate)

So, I have never belonged to some artist’s fan sites, or bought fan goods on anybody. I have never collected complete edition of something. I know how I’m spending boring daily life. Maybe that’s why I got depressed easily somehow. But, I think it is ok. I want to love such abstract things. I love travel especially for foreign countries. I love reading books. I love listening good music. I love writing stupid stuff. I love to meet new people. I love talking with my friends over the phone. I love to know new things or new world. Now I realize, I have many favorite things. Now I am so happy that I can live with my favorite things.

Thank you very much for reading the article. I would prefer your comments or some other topic requests for me to write. Please write a comment or give me an email through contact page.

Dear Ashley (a friend who lives in Turkey)

This below is a personal letter writing for one of my foreign friend Ashely who lives in Turkey now. We met on Facebook 7 years ago, and we were a kind of pen-pal at that time. We used to send and receive air-snail-mails. And somehow we haven’t heard each other for 7 years, but we accidentally met again on Facebook this year (I deactivated my previous account 3 years ago for no reason). Anyway, please enjoy the letter as a kind of my self introduction, maybe.

Dear Ashley

Long long time no see Ashley. I heard that you had just come back to Turkey these days. I’m really relieved hearing that because there were a serious political issue around that time, and now, we are in a global pandemic of COVID-19.

How are you seriously. I became 27 years old now, and I currently live in the northern part of Japan, which is called Hokkaido, where I was born. I live in the very countryside of Hokkaido (like the most places in Hokkaido) called Saroma. The population of Saroma is about 7,000 and interestingly, the number of dairy cattle is about 14,000. Yes. The animal population is higher than people here.

And what am I doing in here? I became a high school English teacher now. Are you surprised? You must be. Because I’m surprised at too. Actually, I had no idea to be an English teacher so far. But I’m enjoying this job anyway (However, I’m always wondering if I could go and live in some other countries. I sometimes really wish if I could live like a world traveler).

I’m still a beginner teacher in a small high school. I struggle with teaching almost everyday, and now I finally found that it actually is really difficult thing to teach something. Learning English in Japan is such a difficult thing because anything is translated immediately in this country. Movies, TV dramas, Music, you can name it. Since Japan hasn’t much diversity race (especially in the country side), people really hesitate to speak some foreign languages and feel shy. So, students are also seems shy to learn English, but I’m trying to let them feel easier to learn English everyday.

The first time we met was when I was a university student in Tokyo (I forgot my age at the time). You sent me a letter with absolutely beautiful hand-drawing sketches. You have such a talent of drawing. So, if you still drawing, I really want you to send me some piece of your art. I will definitely put it in the frame and hang on the wall of my room.

By the way, I still have a dream to live in the US someday. So, it is a kind of working-holiday in Hokkaido for me, I’m saving money to go out from Japan someday. What kind of dreams do you have these days? I would really like to hear your dream and recent situation.

Above all, there are so many things to tell you about my history for this 5 to 7 years. So, just communicate through this analog letter, OK? I seriously love this format of communication. It takes time, but that makes our communication more precious one. Please send back to my address below even if you take a year to send me.

Thank you so much for being friend with me, and keep in touch.
I’m hoping you are doing fine and spending good life from Japan.

Tomoharu Watanabe

Thank you for reading and have a good night.
P.S. Have a good dream with this song…

Not Exactly Paris