August Aomori Spotlight with Kyle

Hello, Aomorians! I hope you are all having an excellent summer and finding ways to beat the heat! This month’s featured JET is Kyle Helm from Kawauchi in the Shimokita region.
How long have you been on JET?
I have been a JET for two years (since 2010). This August, I’m heading into my third.
Is there anything about Mutsu that you think is cool, and that you would recommend to other JETs?
Mutsu is surrounded by endless glorious nature. The other day, we discovered fireflies at one of the beautiful Mutsu parks. We also have hidden outdoor onsen, Mt. Kamafuse, the Kawauchi Waterfall, and a secret cove that looks like the Caribbean. There are also bioluminescent creatures in the ocean near my home that react to stimuli by shimmering, kind of like magical sparks.
Where are you originally from? How does your hometown/area differ from where you live now? 
Originally, I’m from Washington State in the northwestern US. I know I just said we have a cool mountain up here in Mutsu, but my mountains win, hands down. Have you ever seen the Cascade or the Olympic mountain ranges? One of the many extremely gorgeous locals on Earth. My home town was also in one of the fastest growing counties in the country, so I’m used to anonymity. Living here in a small town on top of teaching about half of the elementary school aged children makes it hard to walk through the grocery store without seeing someone who knows my name. That and being a tall gangle-monster with curly hair is not a recommendable disguise. Talk about the nail that sticks up.
What are your hobbies? If you’ve found some new hobbies since you got here, share them! 🙂
 I’ve picked up running and volleyball since coming here. Running’s been an awesome outlet, and (shameless plug) I’ve also begun work on a Facebook group for Aomori runners called Aomori Cool Runners. Check it out for event information and in general support for you and your hard working legs.
How did you become interested in Japan? Have your opinions about Japan changed at all since you arrived? 
 The first time I really became interested in Japan was when I watched Princess Mononoke, a studio Ghibli film. It seemed to come from a mind that wasn’t like any I’d ever encountered before, and it drew me to study Japanese culture. Since coming to Aomori, I’ve realized that not all of Japanese is as homogeneous as it once seemed. The things people experience up here are a far cry from life down south, even in the Kanto region. I’ve learned a lot since coming here, and I think my opinions of my home country have changed far more than my opinions of Japan. Living anywhere outside your own country will probably cause you to think about your own country and culture from a perspective you may not have had before.
Where do you hope to be in five years? What do you want to be doing? 
 In five years I hope to be in saving the planet by teaching people about water resources all over the world.
What is the coolest/most interesting thing you have ever done? 
There are a lot of things that make my top experiences list, but one of the coolest and most interesting was dancing through a village in Africa with a bunch of fellow students, doing dances and songs we’d been working hours a day on for about a week. These dances were, of course, local ones, so everyone came out to watch, laugh at, and cheer us on.
Do you have any special skills/talents that people might not know about? 
I can do some pretty cool flips (literally). I can also play the marimba with four mallets, but it’s been a while since I got to practice.
How many countries have you visited in your life? Which country was your favorite?
 I’ve visited 4 countries. I loved Ghana, but I can’t get Trinidad and Tobago out of my heart and mind. It’s an incredible place with incredible people.
What is the strangest Japanese food you have ever tried? Did you love it, or hate it?
Sea Pineapple. Hate.
In a battle between a grizzly bear (assume that it is a large bear) and an alligator (assume that it is a large alligator), who would you put your money on? Explain your reasoning. 
It’s a good question, and one that requires thorough analysis before a sound conclusion can be made. First, let’s talk about types. Bears are probably your run of the mill normal type or ground type while alligators share a mixture of qualities from both ground and water types. Now, we’ll talk stats. Bears have strong attack and very strong defense (not even an elephant gun will take a normal one down easily, let alone a giant one). They also have higher agility than an alligator, but the alligator’s got a higher special attack rating and possibly special defense due to it’s tough scales. As far as attacks go, the grizzly’s got a crippling fury swipe, but the alligator’s bite attack causes bleed damage and could potentially impair the grizzly’s superior agility. On the other hand, a bear’s natural ability to handle water halves the effect of the alligator’s water type advantageAdditionally, the alligator may be quick in short spurts, but the grizzly’s got speed on land it can’t contend with. It’s a tough choice, but I’d put my money on the grizzly because it has so many qualities that diminish the advantages the alligator might have. Furthermore, it’s superior agility and height (because the high ground is almost always a good place to be) give it evasive capabilities and attacks of opportunity against the alligator.

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