The World Tonight

The World Tonight- from Jessica Dowse on Vimeo.

Little video of MA journalists at University Falmouth putting together the news TV show.

Shot and edited by me

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7439033 Yen for 5 days of water?!

Me: Oh my god! How much do I owe? That’s ridiculous! How is anyone expected to pay that much for water? I don’t have that much! No way! Ahh shit, I’m gunna have to get money off the parents and I wanted to do this all alone and now I’m gunna look like I can’t manage and they’ll get worried. How is it that much? Seriously! I hate this country!

Annie: That’s your account number.

And thus began my week.

See the problem with Japan is they have too many holidays. I end up forgetting that I am here to work, that I have bills to pay, that I must take the rubbish out, buy food… hell even eat food (a couple of days ago I was that consumed in thoughts about my new life I literally forgot to eat…all day! Until about 7 at night when I felt a giant belly pang).

So I have spent the last two weeks in unorganised bliss. I climbed a mountain in my hometown last Wednesday. I casually dangled my legs off the top for the camera- I mean you have to get a picture of that right?- but I was crying with fear on the inside and praying that an earthquake didn’t fancy erupting! It was a pretty amazing day as all the trees were beginning to turn and so naturally I was in hippie mode, stick in hand, breathing deep and feeling at one with the world!

At the top the party had a big picnic. And boy I can tell you- the British think they have the monopoly on picnicing- no way! The Japanese are prepared…unless I was with the equivalent of Mary Poppins and say, Dumbledore, and thus judging my observation on some elite magical group of people…then I think it’s safe to say that these guys have the casual-culinary gold star! They had little stoves, cups, utensils, tin openers, loads of food, including desert and obviously lots of bin bags to separate their rubbish…I took a drink, no rucksack and only wore the clothes upon my back. (How very Dick Whittington of me!) But it was only a two-hour climb! Afterwards we had an indoor BBQ where I once again had to face my eating demons as a full-blown head to tail fish was plonked on my plate next to some lovely looking sea urchin goo.

Fish- amazing. Sea urchin goo- not so much.

Then it was the week of golden-ness and despite my lack of spondoolicks and the ubiquitous I-just-moved-to-another-country-and-I’m-super-tired headache I was still dying to have a mini adventure…and oh I love how I always get my adventures! The first was a quest for pizza. It took my friend and I north on many a mountainous road through valleys wild and across gushing rivers. Along the way we stopped at the statue of liberty (yes) and Jesus’ grave (still not lying), oh and also the ‘pyramids’ (ok, these jagged rocks were a little bit of an exaggeration…but after seeing a convincing statue and a compelling tale of Jesus’ love of Japan that was spurned when he went travelling; you know, the well known book of Travis…where the disciple dudes go surfing in Oz then spend winter boarding in Japan…well yeah, he went back after he did all his spreading of the word apparently and died at the ripe age of 106- dude on the cross?- His brother. So who was I to not think they had pyramids too? It’s very possible!). Pizza was found and needless to say it was amazing. I am actually salivating at the memory…

Next, some friends and I went on a little road trip to kakunodate, an old samurai town a prefecture away. Despite the crowds it was a beautiful little place bursting with character. By this point the weather was beautiful, the sunglasses had come out …and the insects to join them! I couldn’t help but notice how quiet, calm and clean the place was regardless of the amount of people passing through and still how classy it was despite its touristy status. It’s funny, sometimes being in Japan is like looking onto one of those weird mirrors at a fairground- you recognise the image, but it’s distorted. In so many ways the town was similar to an English tourist spot, families, ice–cream, gift shops, good parking-spot quests, but the difference was the families were older as well, not just young kids been dragged around reluctantly, the ice cream was green-tea and sakura flavour, the gift shops didn’t smell like your ugly over-bearing aunt’s house and our parking spot was given to us by some old man who had a free driveway.

So I was pretty much in love with Japan this day.

But alas! Back to the real world I must trudge…my garbage is pilled high, I have no food, and what I do have is stale/moulding/turned to goo, and yes, I have bills to pay…and after that week who can blame me for thinking the seven digit number was my charge- this is Japan…if Jesus is buried here anything is possible!

 

Some things that happened this week in the Japanish world of Jess

April 26, 2009

After an alcohol fuelled cherry blossom party with my board of education I have now added a few more unmentionable meats to my ‘consumed’ collection, a new father who owns a bar and will be serving me G and T to my hearts content next Friday (sorry Dad, but that’s a tough one to turn down), and the nickname Hanako…because, in broken English, ‘jeshca not good name’.

I found a refreshingly honest brand of chewing gum called flavorno.

When, in our world full of signifiers, signs and social constructs, is it ever ok, morally sound, hell even a basic instinct to press a giant red button in a metal box stuck on the side of a building.

I hear you all say ‘never. You total numbskull’.

Well… So, I’m there in my car waiting outside of one of those insane car parks where you drive in and leave your car on a lift and then it gets hoisted into the heavens and stored in a sardine-like fashion and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to make the doors open. So, like a woman driver, I call for the men. What do they do? Like total apes who have clearly been sheltered from all social conditioning…they press the sodding big red button. Then leave. Well there was chaos. Flashing ‘stupid gajins’ on the screen, alarm noises, the ‘how to save the car park from annihilation’ manual, 3 different sets of keys…bowing…lots of bowing…30 minutes later and lets just say half of the hotel staff had had my sincerest apologies. Then when we go to leave, aforementioned ape decides the fire escape must be the route…luckily I wasn’t seat-belted still at this point and managed to save us from humiliation number two. This is the cheapest place in town I hope they let me back!

I drank Calpis…say it….there you go! Hahahaha!

Once again made friends with a random westerner in the middle of the night that I found on the street (I love how this isn’t in any way sketchy here!). We went to Mr Donuts for late night coffee and swopped stories about confusion. Then, rather topsy-turvy like, went on to the smallest taco restaurant on the planet where the options were, as the Japanese owner told us, silly mild, ok medium and stupid hot. This place is one to remember, they sold corona and had Kelly Clarkson playing (admittedly this sent me a little over the top and me and new-found friend karaoked into our tacos with a gusto I think the lady herself would have been proud of!) This was one of those nights where I felt I could stay here forever.

Bought ‘I’m a badass teacher’ beer from the local supermarket but felt bad because there was loads of kids around so tried to cover it using uber moral strawberries and ‘I’m so lonely and lame I just stay at home and eat’ chocolate chip cookies.

Made a rookie error when I bought a CD based on the merits of it’s name and cover art…these are the word for word lyrics of my favourite song that touched my heart…in a metaphoric, profound way…

Looking for my Kitten, Doesn’t she shake with cold.

Looking for my kitten. Where are her whereabouts?

Looking for my kitten, because she loves sweet thing.

Looking for my kitten. She should be by my side.

I understand in reality, she is good at sheltering.

I understand in reality, she has good sense of direction.

I could go on…but alas, I fear you would die of extreme happiness…

I experienced my second earthquake last night…quite amazingly, mid saucy scene in atonement…I was like, bloomin eck they weren’t kidding when they said this film was moving!

And I will leave you with a beautiful message I encountered today- Let’s enjoy tampon times!

 

The day I found the meaning of life

April 19, 2009

Just as Rod Stewart’s awesometasical line ‘the rhythm of my heart is beating like a drum with the words I love you rolling off my tongue, no never will I roam for I know my place is home; where the ocean meets the sky I’ll be sailing’ seems to sum up love for me, a cherry tree growing out of a rock strikes a similar truthful chord. Quite what note it is I am not sure, but there is something magnificently profound about seeing such a sight.

See I visited the big smoke of Morioka this weekend and found myself beyond happy to be amongst the hustle and bustle of a more normal world than my home dreamland. To be in a crowd. To shop. To eat a burger! Oh the bliss of the city life! Perhaps it was my hyper fuelled appreciation for the world that just bubbled over when I met with friends that caused me to find poignant things everywhere I turned, but I’m not kidding you, Morioka is the city where the meaning of life is hidden.

So there I am just ambling down the street one fine day, talking with friends, blissfully unaware of the revelation before me. We see the crowd. Cross the street. And there it is before me.

A tree…

In a rock.

I got one of those stabby emotions in my belly where you know you’re feeling something special you just don’t know which category it comes under, love, hate, bad curry…it takes a second or two to work it out. But this I couldn’t. It was beyond my comprehension. I kept looking but it made me uncomfortable so I walked away. I mean I understand how it is possible, but actually seeing this beautiful old tree dripping with blossom and propped up on crutches originating from a crack in a giant rock…it’s sort of baffling. I guess in a way it symbolises how Japan has felt for me so far; the normal, arranged in an abnormal way.

The familiar, de-familiarised.

As if that wasn’t enough to chuck Jess Dowse off the thinking-too-much cliff, I only go and see a snow covered volcano at the end of a busy road of traffic! Right about this time my friends are laughing at me trying to get over the surreal they are now accustomed to. I consider taking a photo but it seems a ridiculous idea to try and frame insanity, so I just walk on having one of those movie moments when you have a birds-eye view of your situation and realise the true hilarity of it all. I have this sensation a lot here.

Really, I know I’m sounding like a bit of a hippy now, but seeing trees in rocks, volcanoes on streets, bulls in a field without any fence, rope bridges between houses and red lights for no cars and no people…. Maybe I was just high on life because I was let loose for a few hours… but I don’t know, it seems to me that Morioka is the holy grail of what life’s all about…Well it’s certainly what my life’s about right now given there’s no crap TV to watch and I like have to be all intellectual and stuff coz they aint got celeb mags so I can read about Jordan and Peter and that. Sucks.…