Hello, Aomorians! Please give a warm welcome to this month’s featured JET, Brian LaBelle!
What is your placement city? How long have you been there?
I’m in Fujisaki-machi. I’ve been here for about 14 months now.
Is there anything about your placement city (or surrounding area) that you think is interesting, and that you would recommend to other JETs?
Fujisaki is a pretty quiet place, but it’s situated almost perfectly in between of all of the surrounding cities and local attractions, so it’s convenient in that respect. The summer Neputa festival and fireworks competition is pretty impressive, and there are almost non-stop presentations, concerts and events taking place at the culture center.
Where are you originally from?
I was born in Michigan, grew up in Florida, and am most recently from Colorado.
What are your hobbies? If you’ve found some new hobbies in Aomori, share them! 🙂
My hobbies include playing guitar, basketball, tennis, video games, watching movies and I spend a lot of time at the gym. I haven’t really picked up any “new” hobbies in Aomori, but in my former life I was a graphic artist and animator in television, and I’ve since discovered that my art background has come in handy when preparing materials for lesson plans. So I guess you could say that I’ve “re-discovered” my love of art and design while teaching here.
How did you become interested in Japan? Have your opinions about Japan changed at all since you arrived?
Oh, that’s a pretty long story in my case. There wasn’t any one single thing that sparked my interest in Japan. I think it was more of a gradual development over many years. As an animator, I was naturally fascinated by anime and other aspects of Japanese culture when I was younger. I also studied martial arts for quite a few years which deepened my interest in Asian cultures in general. I made Japanese friends and listened to a lot of Japanese popular music. So eventually I decided to study the language and come to Japan.
I studied just about everything relating to Japanese culture for quite a few years before finally arriving, so I can’t say that I’ve been terribly surprised by anything. It’s been more or less what I expected. It’s like any other place: it has its good points and bad points.
What is the best food you have eaten since you came to Japan? How about the worst?
Anko. I have a hardcore sweet-tooth, so I reach for anything with Anko in it. It’s just something you don’t readily find in the U.S., so I’ve been enjoying everything from mochi to anpan. The worst? I guess that would have to be the slimy, formless mass that was that was wriggling around on my plate at our last Christmas enkai. I still don’t know what that thing was, but I’m pretty sure it was trying to communicate with me. I guess it was some kind of mollusk. I try to be open to new things, but I have my limits. I merely watched in horror as my co-worker gleefully took its life and consumed it in front of me. Yeah. Have fun with that.
The holiday season is coming up! What is your favorite holiday? How do you think you’ll spend it here in Japan?
Halloween, baby! Best day of the year! Unfortunately, aside from the decorations you see in the stores, they really don’t celebrate it here, so it’s a bit depressing. Somehow, we must find a way to indoctrinate Japan’s children into the sacred ritual of trick-or-treat. It’s a moral imperative. As for this year, I’m trying to make my way down to Osaka for their 2nd annual Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. Slowly but surely, Halloween is gaining a foothold in the land of the rising sun.
What is the best Halloween costume you have ever worn?
When I was young, the WWF wrestler “The Ultimate Warrior” was my hero. He always charged into the ring like a madman while rock music was blasted over the PA system and the crowd went nuts. The war paint, the neon-colored arm bands…I couldn’t imagine anything cooler than this guy, so I had to dress like him for Halloween. I spent that Halloween party running around almost completely naked in face paint while screaming his one-liners in people’s faces. Good times!
A werewolf and a vampire are having a battle. Assume that both combatants are strong fighters. We are talking big ol` claws and fangs, here. These are two glorious representatives of their respective species. Who would win? Explain your reasoning.
This is just a flimsy excuse to get me to write your “Twilight” fan fiction for you, right? Bah! Sparkling pretty-boys who can’t put their shirts on do not genuine Halloween movie monsters make! But since we’re talking “glorious representatives” here, we all know that the werewolves are the dominant species. While the vampire broods over his immortality and sheds blood tears of regret, the werewolves are tearing victims’ throats out and loving every minute. I’m curious to see just how “immortal” a vampire would continue to be after he’s been torn limb from limb. Vampires may have more sex appeal, but the wolves get the job done. Lycanthropy! It does a body good!