Gender Things

I guess I’ve sort of abandoned this blog in lieu of posting on Tumblr, but I thought I’d put a quick note here about me. I’m transgender, female. Started presenting full time as a female on March 10, 2014. Started hormone replacement therapy on April 25, 2014. Changed my name to Himawari on October 1, 2014. So, yeah, that happened; and is still in the process of happening as it were.

Three More Tattoos

After my latest trip to Japan in November, I got three more tattoos. The area they cover is rather large, on my abdomen, approximately 64 square inches.

好き嫌いが多い私 (Sukikirai ga Ooi Watashi – I have a lot of likes and dislikes)
The Japanese text is a line form the song Gag 100 Kaibun Aishite Kudasai by Berryz Kobo. The Gag 100 PV was the first where I discovered Berryz, this line specifically is the first sung by Tokunaga Chinami. The song, the discovery, and the smiling girl mean a lot to me, and that line in particular is special.

Let’s doit Happytime
Text drawn up by Chinami from the fan club tour in October. Simply, the Happytime tattoo is representative of all the happy times I’ve had over the past few years, with Berryz, but also with friends, family and other relationships and experiences.

Daruma Doll
A [Japanese] symbol of good luck and has ties to Zen Buddhism. You fill in one eye as you set a goal and the Daruma is supposed to watch over you and make sure you stay on track to reach that goal. Unrelated to the Daruma itself, there is also some lose relation to the Care Bears with regards to this its placement. Located centered on my belly, this is my Belly Badge.

My Tattoos

See the finished product at the end of this post, but in the mean time, here’s a little background…

Right Shoulder

火水 (Himizu – as discordant as fire and water)
My first tattoos, I got them and one other, the day I turned 18 (2000). A symbol of discord, internal conflict; overt vs. covert, I vs. me.

Endo

円相 (Enso – circle)
In 2010, the addition of the Zen symbol, Enso, a simple imperfect circle, is a contrast to the aforementioned discord. A sort of representation of harmony; a show of me, becoming what I am, living in the now. Yet all the while, putting forth an image of imperfection.

Chest

Smiling Girl Hawaii

Short Haired Smiling Girl
A drawing by a girl in Japan that I fell in love with, Tokunaga Chinami. This drawing comes from an event in Hawaii, where I (and others), got to meet and spend time with her. This and the following tattoo, I got in 2013.

Medachitai, I Want To Stand Out

目立ちたいっ!! (Medachitai!! – I want to stand out)
Stylized Japanese text, the logo for the first concert I went to in Japan, 2009, preformed by my favorite band, Berryz Koubou. Beyond that first significance, the translation itself, “I want to stand out,” partially represents my desire to do just that; on one level, as a big black guy travelling to Japan, I stand out quite a bit.

Smiling Girl, Long Hair

Long Haired Smiling Girl
Another drawing by Chinami (who is a member of Berryz Koubou, if you haven’t connected the dots yet). I got this and the next tattoo in 2009, immediately following my first trip to The Land of the Rising Sun.

Berryz Logo

Berryz
The name and logo of my favorite band. This and the tattoo above are positioned over my heart, as a representation of love not only for the band, but my love for the person who drew the picture.

Left Shoulder

Sunflower

Sunflower
As you may guess, Chinami drew the picture; it’s also her favorite flower. I got this tattoo at the same time as the one on my right shoulder, in 2010. It was shortly after a trip to Hawaii where I got to meet and interact with Chinami for the first time. In addition to that, my twin sister has a sunflower tattooed on her right ankle. I got this, on my upper body left side, as sort of as a mirror to that; my sister and I are opposites in many ways, but at the same time, there is a strong connection I have with her, and this sunflower represents that. Originally it was going to be in color, yellow and orange, our sister and my favorite colors growing up.

Back of Neck – Not Pictured

龍 (Ryuu – dragon)
The third of my three tattoos that I got when I turned 18 (2000). Meant to represent my thick skin. How on the outside, I appear unaffected by anything that is thrown my way.

Chest (Again)

Rilakkuma, I am Me, Become What You Are

“I am me” is a bit of a fallacy, for I am nothing, just as I am everything. Though perhaps even then, isn’t that a false dichotomy? No matter, and no use trying to explain the depth of its meaning. To me, on the surface, it is something that points to a time in my life of profound identity confusion; of the constant question nagging me at the back of my head, “who am I?” Unable to answer, because the person I was when the question was asked was not the person I was the moment after. Constantly reminding myself that “I am me,” the phrase just sort of lost its meaning. If you say something over and over again, it all just starts to sound like gibberish, does it not? Well, I acknowledge that it doesn’t mean anything, yet I’ll continue to say it, because that’s just how my brain works and there’s no use in fighting it. I am me, always have been, always will be. This revelation, if you want to call it that, is what allowed me to become what I am; or is it the other way around?

“Become what you are” is related to that last sentence there, yeah. It’s also the title of a book by Alan Watts. Backing up a bit, “The Way of Zen” by the same author was an interesting book that discussed a lot of concepts that to me, just clicked and made sense. From the history to an introduction to the concept of Zen, the material is presented from an out of the ordinary point of view that makes the read through an enjoyable, relatable and informative experience. It’s not a life-changing book by any means, but it did open my eyes a bit. “Become what you are” is somewhat of a continuation of that, and it perhaps helped stabilize me during a turbulent period in my life. I don’t claim to be a Zen practitioner, or to be all that knowledgeable of it really, but it made an impact I think.

The seven bears (well, six bears and a bird) are from the Rilakkuma universe. Rilakkuma, Relax Bear, a Japanese character so there’s that, the connection to Japanese culture. They are based on the various aspects of my personality, somewhat influenced by the zodiac and the concept of key phrases that are associated with them. These seven, and the last two tattoos I got in 2013. From top to bottom:

Rilakkuma, Relax Bear; Key Phrase: I Relax
Korilakkuma, Young/Female Relax Bear; Key Phrase: I Shine
Scorpio, Scorpion Rilakkuma; Key Phrase: I Desire
Leo, Lion Rilakkuma; Key Phrase: I Will
Virgo, Virgin Korilakkuma; Key Phrase: I Analyze
Kiiroitori, Yellow Bird; Key Phrase: I Critisize
Cancer, Crab Rilakkuma; Key Phrase: I Feel

The final result:

Tattoos - Right

Tattoos - Left

Tattoos - Center

Graduation

I graduated from the University of Kentucky.

Embracing Change: A Valuable Lesson in Life

Life is a journey and it is through its progression that we learn and are shaped into the people we are today. Lessons learned come in many shapes and sizes, from taking a large gamble with little to no payoff, to small, everyday experiences with great reward, and everything in between. It is both from triumphing over obstacles and admitting defeat that we can look back and gleam the lessons from the experience. As every event has the potential to teach us a lesson, it can be difficult to point out a single, most valuable one, but I am going to share one recent event in my life, that I believe illustrates just that.

The event takes place within the context of my employment and a project I have been working on. The company I have been working with, is a non-profit organization that works with instructors and those in need, in the prevention and correction of the actions of alcohol and drug abuse. Their primary focus is educating those so that they can become more aware of the real life consequences of their actions. The aim of the project was to improve the classroom learning material, supplementing with computer based learning, to increase the effectiveness of the teachers’ ability to teach the material and participants to learn. It was my role in the team of graphic designers and programmers to put the finished product together. It was in this position as a software developer that I learned the value of embracing change.

The night before the product was to be unveiled, some last minute changes were suggested. The majority of the development team was hesitant to go though with these changes, myself included. The addition of complex features had the potential to make us miss the deadline. In the end however, I conceded and stayed up all night and into the morning to go ahead an implement these changes.

Thankfully, on the day of the demonstration, everything went well. In fact, the users of the new program were amazed by what we were able to put together. Beyond pencil and paper, the physical and visual aspects of interacting with a computer and seeing what effect the participants actions could have on their real lives played out in front of them, brought to them a sense of emotion that they had not felt before. It was specifically, the change that had been made the night before that had the most impact on them. By putting in the little bit of extra effort, foregoing my own personal hesitations, and to see the reaction, it really opened me up to appreciate the value of change.

Small changes in my life, while the effects may not be immediately evident, can lead to great reward. There may be risk associated, but such is the journey of life. This particular experience really opened my eyes in realizing that. Whether it’s changing the type of light bulbs I use, changing the way I study for an exam, changing the way I eat or exercise, I realize now that all of these small changes in my life can have a great impact on my future.

Theories of the Japanese Society

Is it really so easy to accurately generalize the inner workings of a complex modern society, or to go even further and reduce the entirety of the society down to a single word? Well perhaps such methods can give one an overview of how the society operates, or at least a foundation to quell one’s curiosity, but in the end it would take years of study and research to get the most accurate picture available. For those without the time or dedication however, these general overviews can be a nice place to start. Japanese Society by Chie Nakane attempts to provide just that. By looking into the detailed structure of Japanese society and its hierarchal groups, Nakane provides a view that makes an effort to outline the essential blocks of Japan’s societal makeup. Takeo Doi on the other hand, in his book The Anatomy of Dependence, takes what could be called a linguistics approach to looking at the behavior of Japanese society. Doi explores the world of amae, and explains that while it is not a phenomenon unique to the society of Japan, the use of the word and the concepts of the language around it can be drawn on to provide some insight. Each theory has its own strengths and weaknesses, but when all is said and done, each serve their purpose successfully.

Nakane makes her credibility on the topic of the Japanese society known up front and that the book may appear to be making generalizations or that some of the analysis might be flawed. It is her first hand experience along with extensive research on the topic however, that lends to her authority on the topic. It is perhaps this innovative approach, rather than say, one that is strictly scientific, that gives the impression that such a unique and complex society can be at least partially understood. Of these innovations is the use of unique words to describe the characteristics of the Japanese society. The “attribute” as she calls it, refers to a collection of traits that tie a group together, where as a “frame” describes the location, group or setting in which there is a social context. In a way, this coining of new terms as it applies the foundation of her analysis may be seen as amateurish and unorthodox. The way I see it however, is that with such a unique society, original methods are sometimes best to introduce concepts that are not common or seen in other societies on the whole.

It is within this “attribute” and ”frame” structure, that Nakane describes the diverse relationships within the Japanese society. From one’s primary frame, there in lies the majority of one’s social interaction. This frame however has its drawbacks, as Nakane mentioned, “group unity […] is essential,” but it “creates a gulf between the group and others with similar attributes but outside the frame.” What this boils down to is dependence on the group for economic, emotional, and other support systems, but rejection of those outside of the group who otherwise might be able to offer the same or better support. Within the context of family for example, it is only those living in the house that can count on support from the family; blood relation in that context wouldn’t make much of a difference. Within a corporation, there is little to no, or otherwise strenuous cooperation between companies. While that would perhaps foster competition between groups, it perhaps limits innovation and the introduction of new ideas into society.

The groups themselves then, have their own internal structure. What this essentially consists of is age and tenure being the deciding factors of where one is placed on the vertical hierarchy, with little importance given to ability. Within school, sports or corporations, the flaws with a system like this can be seen quite clearly. A new college graduate, the top of his class, exceptionally skilled and brimming with innovative ideas is hired into a company on the lowest level. All of the decisions are however made by the old man who has been with the company for years, who only inherited the top position because of that fact, not because he was an astute businessman. The group in that case, could be said to be only as strong as it’s weakest link. As Nakane notes, this structure is essentially unchangeable once the group has been formed and there is no advancement based on merit. There is little to no incentive to try harder either, but only to improve the standing of the group – in relation to other groups. This is another issue that Nakane points out, that the competition is against other groups and not in seeking unique ideas or one-of-a-kind improvements that deviate too far from the status quo.

Seemingly contradictory in her analysis, Nakane mentions that the frustrations in lack of advancement within this hierarchal group structure can spur the creation of new groups, breaking off from the parent. An understandable course of action, but Nakane’s arguments before this revelation gave me the impression that this was all but unlikely. The strong case is made however, that if one becomes too good for the group, that the group would likely force them out or out of one’s desire to overcome the hindrances of the group, a new group would be formed. This again reinforces the idea that the primary goal is not to achieve, but to stay stagnant and wait it out to work your way to the top, though even when at the top, one must not stray too far from the group; with the alternate being, you must be an exceedingly above the others in the group if one is even thinking about leaving (for one’s own social health).

One other point of contention is when Nakane proposes that only a horizontal based relationship -or- a “contractual” based relationship would work with regards to having separate groups to help alleviate the dilemma of group mentality and lack of productivity in the vertical relationship system. To me this seems like a false choice. Would it not be possible to marry all three of the systems into the current vertical, even if only gradually? Nakane makes note that “the possibility just does not exist in Japan,” but perhaps it could be said that currently the proposition seems difficult and with time, that things could change.

Nakane continues to stress the Japanese peoples’ dependency on these groups, or frames. Emotionally, socially, economically, they are needed for support, but there are glaring flaws with a system like this. Despite these flaws, Japan could be said to be successful, and with that I can agree. One could speculate as to whether changing the fundamentals of the group and vertical hierarchy systems present in Japan would produce a more efficient, powerful, Japan, but it wouldn’t be the Japanese society we know today.

Another perspective on Japanese society comes from that of Takeo Doi, who looks to the word “amae” to describe the fundamentals of the society and its behavior. Amae as explained is, “the desire to be passively loved.” A fairly simple concept that potentially has large implications. Doi’s purpose in writing this book is to look at the Japanese language to explain the societies’ behavior as it relates to the phenomenon of amae and “what happens when amae is in some way frustrated or distorted.” With his personal research and experience in hand, Doi explains this takeaway from the viewpoint of language as he says, “the typical psychology of a given nation can be learned only through familiarity with its native language.” While the word amae is unique to the Japanese language, it is not unique to the Japanese people; Doi points out, just the fact that it is use however, this has implications about the society in which it is being used. It is then this concept of amae, which Doi relates to the vertical relationships that Nakane mentioned in her analysis. In the context of a familial or intimate relationship, this amae could be someone wanting to be spoiled or pampered by his or her loved one. In the context of a corporation and other such circumstances it could be found in the humbling and honorifics used to refer to the self and the other; a “childlike attitude” as Doi puts it.

Beyond the word amae, Doi introduces a myriad of other words that relate to this concept and help to further define the behavior of Japanese society. One such word is “tanin,” which refers to other people besides ones self. Tanin however, is not used to refer to a parent, indicating that the parent-child bond is not that of one and another. It is the concept of amae that sits behind this bond, the desire to retreat back and indulge oneself in the helpless desires of early childhood where child is again dependent on parent. Again, outside of the context of the familial, this extends into the whole group mentality. There are those who are inside the group who share a special bond of inferred indulgence, and those, others, on the outside who are all but cut off from this relationship. Both Doi and Nakane’s views on this group mentality support each other in that it can be said that there is security within the group, but beyond that, there is potential threat; therefore to leave the group, is to enter a threatening situation in which social and emotional support ties are severed.

Another interesting societal behavior as it relates to “amae mentality” is that of the Japanese sense of being victimized. A simple example given by Doi is how Japanese would phrase being out in the rain; “I was rained on today” as opposed to saying something to the effect of “it rained today;” the person speaking becomes the victim of the rain. This “sense of being a victim,” is not a “temporary sense of grievance” but is an overarching social state. This state does not only apply to the individual, but also when in a group setting, it is the entire group that becomes the victim. Most prominently, this sense of amae and being a victim was brought about by the “shock of defeat” at the end of World War II in which it could be said that some regressed into a state of wanting to be taken care of.

Using language as the key to understand any society is an interesting angle to take, as at first glance it can seem to be so limited. While I would have at first second-guessed the merits of doing so, after reading Doi’s work, I can clearly see the relevance. At the same time however, relating it all back to amae, the desire to be passively loved, seems to be a bit of a stretch at times. The actions of society speak for themselves, but having them all interconnected to some one “thing,” seems to simplify such a complex subject too much. That said, the cuteness phenomenon in Japan that continues to this day, and the features of amae seen throughout the society cannot be overlooked; as Doi says, “the distinction between children and adults has become blurred,” “everyone has become more childish,” with those statements, I don’t think I can disagree.

As both books were published in the 1970s, there is a lot of recent history that is missing from them. Economic ups and downs, and the ever-shrinking global sphere of influence, new technologies and innovative forms of entertainment are just a few of the issues that play a part in how the society is shaped and behaves. That does not deter their significance however. Whether it is via language, or strict observation, to have a better understanding of where the society stands today, we must look back at its beginnings. It is not always possible to get everything right, but Chie Nakane’s Japanese Society and Takeo Doi’s The Anatomy of Dependence do a good job of helping us understand what and why the society of Japan is what it is today.

Postsecondary Experience in Writing

Education Level: Junior
College Major(s): Economics, Japanese Language and Literature

I spent my freshman and sophomore years of college at Bluegrass Community and Technical College before transferring to full time study here at the University of Kentucky. My focus during those two years was on general education requirements, but also preparation for continuing to study in business related fields. My freshman year I successfully completed ENG 101 and 102, receiving near perfect scores on each of my six major writing assignments for those classes. The following year I took a communications course, which focused on research, preparation and oral presentation. In that class too I was able to do very well in delivering clear and concise informational and persuasive presentations. The communication course incorporated the use of visual aides such as PowerPoint as well, which I was able to use efficiently.

Since transferring to the University of Kentucky I have focused more on my major course requirements in the areas of Japanese and economics. My Japanese culture courses have included major writing assignments in them, which again helped me to exercise my writing and research skill. One of the projects required critical report and review of two anthropological books, where another focused on incorporating original research on a comparative period in history into the written work. In both instances I was able to complete the assignments at a much higher than average capacity. On the side of economics, I took a business statistics class which required group research and written report collaboration. In the team-working environment, I was able to provide my fair share of data and assisted in report formation and editing, contributing to the overall success of the group.

Despite my academic achievement, I would have to say that my weaknesses revolve around the areas of initiative and leadership. I am more of a behind the scenes kind of guy. It can take me a while to get going on writing assignments; furthermore, it’s usually best if I am provided direction in terms of writing topics and assignments, and that it is not left up to me to make any final decisions with regards to projects. In any case, I can take those roles if need be, which makes me a great team player, but they are definitely not my strong suits.

Seven Years in Kentucky

It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. Or maybe I’ve just kinda lost track of time, it’s all sort of blending together. This past year I can say however, has been pretty awesome.

Education

Well, I graduated in May. That is, I completed my Associate’s in Arts degree. With “High Distinction;” inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society; maintained a 4.0 GPA; accepted a scholarship to the University of Kentucky. Wow, things can only go down from there, lol. But I guess I can be proud of my accomplishments, yes, without sounding too braggart about it. I’m still pretty chronic on the procrastination front, and now at UK, that’s starting to catch up to me a bit. Still, I’m enjoying the overall experience of learning, regardless of how well, what grades and such I get in my classes.

Uncertain of where this education is going to take me, I think I’m starting to form at least some sort of a picture of where I’d like to end up. No real attachment to the outcome, but I’ve got some ideas in mind that I’d like to solidify and start to take action on over the next year.

Travel

Right after graduating, I hopped on a plane to Japan and had the grandest time. Over the past year I’ve been back a total of four times and it never gets old. Something new to see and do each time, and even some of the old stuff, I guess I could say, has started to feel new again. Kyoto was memorable for quite a few reasons. I really enjoyed it. My last trip to Japan had me in Izu, where I visited an onsen for the first time. My next trip to Japan, well who knows when, but I’ll definitely be going back.

I’ll mention in passing, the current disaster in Japan. I some ways, I wish I was there now; to help. I don’t know.

Also included in my travels this year was a trip to Hawaii. That was a great time as well. I enjoyed swimming on the beaches and just the overall atmosphere. In April, I’ll be going to Sakura-con in Seattle. I’m really enjoying traveling and hope to continue to do so, off and on for the indefinite future.

Work

No longer freelancing, I’ve accepted a position with the company I’ve been doing work for over the past couple of years. As a full time student, I’m keeping a busy schedule, but while I could be doing better, I think I’ve managed to handle both. I, for the most part, still enjoy doing what I’m doing. There are little times here and there where I really feel a sense of accomplishment, and that makes it worth it.

Health

Nothing new really, read into that what you will, haha. That said, I’ve been working out and getting into a bit better shape. No drastic changes, but it’s noticeable.

Life

What can I say, life’s good. There’s always going to be bumps and such, but me personally, I can’t really complain.

Oh, and as winter wraps up, I hadn’t thought we could top last years, but this year, the winter in Kentucky was pretty active. Add to that, driving through the blizzard when I was in New Your over Christmas break, and this winter truly has been an adventure. I love it.

Subtle Style Changes and the Jersey Shore

Got my ear(s) pierced a month ago. Had to have the one in the right ear removed tho, heh. Anyway, it looks good methinks. It doesn’t stand out too much and once it’s all healed up, I’ll have some creative options to swap it out with if I feel the desire to do so.

Bought a couple of rings. I had stopped wearing my ace of hearts ring some time ago, but these new ones are a little bit more stylish. I was thinking about getting a watch, necklace and a bracelet too… but in the end, figured that might be a bit too much. Tho I used to wear all that in middle and high school, small changes for now.

I’ve not got my new tattoos yet, but I do have some ideas for filling in the rest of my chest. I’ll continue to drum up and tweak the designs and will probably get something done before the spring.

Did a little shopping and bought some more abstract-ish t-shirts and button up long sleeve shirts. Nothing new really, it’s an continuation of the style I’ve been working with over the past year. With regards to how I’ve been wearing them, just an overall more relaxed look and feel.

What’s the Jersey Shore have to do with any of this? Well, I was working late one night and on TV they were running a marathon of the first season. I was casually watching it, and I kinda got hooked on it a little bit. I’m a people watcher yeah, and these are some interesting people to watch I guess. In any case, one thing that stood out to me was some of their style of clothing. Jeans and t-shirts, somewhat similar to what I’ve been wearing as of late. Basic stuff yeah. Add to that the fact that I’ve been lifting weights for a bit now, the parallel in that sense was kinda funny.

Twenty Ten Fall Down

The grades are in and thus marks another semester behind me. It also marks down my first full semester at the University of Kentucky. Not much change from my previous two years experience, but the big college definitely does offer up a different atmosphere. And because all of my classes were on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I was on campus for a good majority of the day; between classes, studying in the library and such, working on projects in the computer labs, &c. It reminds me, I had contemplated moving closer to campus last year, and that’s still on my mind.

I wouldn’t say that this semester was much more difficult than the previous ones, but it did get pretty busy towards the end there. I was able to manage both my work and school schedules pretty successfully tho I think. Now that I’m focusing on my major requirements, the subjects of my classes are getting all the more interesting. To add, after talking with my adviser earlier in the year, I switched my major over to the new Japanese Language and Litreature one that UK started offering this year. In addition, I will be combining that with Economics, for a double major.

Advanced Japanese I – If I can say anything, it’s that I’m fairly consistent in my performance. With that said however, I am a little bit behind from where I think I ought to be. Just got to push myself a little harder here. I do plan to complete the next three levels of Japanese (as required by my major), and perhaps after that I’ll do a bit of study abroad. I any case, I’ve got a good idea of my strengths and weaknesses and hope to improve upon them over time.

On our last two tests in the class and on the final there were a couple of paragraphs of Japanese text that we had to translate into English. I won’t say that I had fun doing them, but I kinda liked doing it. As with working harder on the other areas I need to improve upon, I think this is an area that I might focus more on during my spare time.

To make note on one last thing for this class. Over my college career I’ve managed to incorporate my interest in Japanese music into at least one of each my semester’s classes; whether it was writing essays for English, or giving speeches for my Public Speaking class, or putting together a presentation for my Asian History class, &c, I’ve tried to fit it in and have been successful in doing so. This time I gave a presentation in Japanese about my trips to Hawaii/Japan to see Berryz Koubou. I’m glad that I’m able to somewhat tailor my learning experience around my own interests.

Japanese Culture: Meiji to Present – A little slow at first, I guess because there was a bit of overlap between this class and my history class, as in, we were given overviews of the pre Meiji era. The culture class covered a bunch that the history class did not however, and the history class went into a lot of detail not covered in the culture class. Win-win in the end.

I had mentioned that I was worried about the amount of reading that would be required for this class, but as this is a subject that really interests me, I found doing the readings to be not a problem at all. I even managed to read two books over Thanksgiving break, heh (long plane rides to and from Japan). So yeah, the reading issue isn’t an issue at all really.

One thing really stick out to me about this class, tho it might be biased by the teachers use of vocabulary… Japan’s modern history sure is filled with a bunch of contradictions, ironies, dual mentalities. I know I’m being a little vague here, but it’s all quite interesting once you start getting into the details of Japanese society and culture. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing to learn more about these topics.

History: Japan at War – I definitely wouldn’t call myself a history buff by any stretch of the word; and while it does hold a great interest to me, it’s definitely not one of my stronger subjects. That said, I very much enjoyed learning the detail about Japan’s modern wars. I don’t think I had many  assumptions about Japan’s war time history, motivations and such before the class, but the class really did get me thinking about it. Our final exam included an essay question that basically asked, with regards to Japan’s involvement and continuation of war, “Why?” It’s a complex subject and I could have seen this class split over two semesters to cover a lot of the material.

Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine

During Thanksgiving break I went to the somewhat controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which was an awesome spot to tie everything together. Seeing everything up close, how Japan tells the story and otherwise how the hands on experience enhanced the classroom experience was great. It’s one thing to go to a shrine and appreciate it for what it is, but with all of that history and knowledge it made it all the better.

Economics and Business Statistics – The pace was slow before the midterm, but afterward things really took off. It had been over a year since I took my first statistics class, but I don’t think that was much of a setback, for me anyway. Deviating a bit from the theory aspect of economics, this class was more hands on math heavy stuffs. While I did well in the class, I’m looking forward to switching back to the more theory focused stuff.