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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fukushima Article

Its been quite a long time since I have last made a post on this blog.

Most of the people viewing this blog now are probably doing so via the University of California Study Abroad Program website.

Please do check through the various posts on my blog to get an idea of  what my year abroad was like.  It really was the most exciting and life changing year of my life and the decision to study abroad was definitely the best decision my my life.

Upon returning to UCSB, I was hired to work as a peer advisor for the UCSB office of UCEAP to help promote students to study abroad.



A few posts back, I posted about my visit to Fukushima Aiikuen for a photojournalism project.  You can find my finished article at the following link.

Coping in the Shadow of a Nuclear Disaster


I am also happy to report that my experiences in Japan have actually led me to a job in Japan!

I am now working as an English teacher in Yamagata Prefecture through the JET Program.

The new JET orientation in Tokyo.  Here I sat with fellow JETs hired from all over the world.

The bad news is that I will not be posting on this blog anymore.

The good news is that I started a new blog for my experiences working towards living in Japan from here on out.

Here it is.

https://medium.com/@derekyamashita

(I switched because Medium is way more user friendly than Blogger)


Friday, September 12, 2014

One of the most meaningful opportunities I was able to experience during my year abroad was being hired to produce this promotional video for Takamasa, a fish cake factory in Onagawa City.

This city suffered incredibly under the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Northern Japan in 2011.  Steep hills on both sides of the city funneled the waves to up to three times the height seen elsewhere.  Even the city hospital built on top of a large hill overlooking the city had its entire first floor washed out.  When I first looked out at the ruins of Onagawa in 2012, I had extreme difficulty believing that waves could ever reach such an incredible height, and even more so, could not comprehend the misery and sorrow of the beautiful seaside town of Onagawa that had once stood in what was then desolate ruins.  A few months ago during my visit in 2014, I could see incredible signs of improvement and life returning to the city and it's reignited fishing industry for which it is so famous for.

It is still very much a city in recovery, but I could sense an incredible amount of energy and drive in the kindhearted and lively residents who I had the chance to interact with.  Most notable were the amazing people who I met at Takamasa.  Although it's factory was not directly destroyed, Takamasa's supply chain and workers were thrown into disarray and had to halt production for a period of time.  It was only recently that full production of this factory was able to resume and many of the workers in this factory still live in temporary housing shelters. However, none of these factors hold Takamasa back from being one of the most famous fish cake companies in all of Northern Japan.  Its workers were kind and hardworking,  its standards of quality and cleanliness were beyond anything I have ever seen, and its products were truly mouth watering.  Many challenges still face this small city, but the strength and livelyhood of this wonderful factory illustrate Onagawa's determination to make a full revival.

Though challenging, producing this video was an adventure for me and I am so thankful to have been able to share in Onagawa's path to recovery.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

ICU Cycling Club Promotional Video

A new school year is coming at ICU and I have updated the cycling club's promotional video for a recruitment fair that is coming up.  Have a look!

You can follow this link to the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7wPKJeklNc

Or you can watch it here.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Hokkaido trip with the ICU Cycling Club


For my final trip during this year abroad, I spent 24 incredible days cycling across the endless fields of green, on long roads that extend beyond the horizon, and along the coastline of Hokkaido with the ICU Cycling Team.

Hokkaido is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, the weather is cool, the air is crystal clear, every single star in the night sky is visible, the food was delicious, and the culture is rich.  Further, the roads were wide and the drivers were very friendly to us as they always gave us plenty of room as they passed us up and sometimes even shouted "Ganbare" or "goodluck/you can do it!" in Japanese.  We never had to lock our bikes, not even once. Even by Japanese standards, the sense of peace and safety in Hokkaido was pure bliss.  

Hokkaido was a paradise for adventure, and to be able to go on such a journey with my closest friends that I have made this year was more that I could have ever asked for.  I had dreamed of making Japanese friends prior to this year abroad, and I am happy to report that I have found a group of friends so close, that they actually have begun to resemble a family to me.

Here is a photo narrative of some of the highlights from this trip!
A common sight in Hokkaido, endless fields of green and crystal clear skies.

A beautiful road that was above a forest in one of the national parks. Cycling on this road was perhaps the most beautiful sight I have ever seen while cycling.



Every single star was visible in the night sky.  This was an 8 minute exposure with a fish eye lens on my Cannon 50D.



We carried everything on our bikes, including tents, pots, stoves, lots of clothes, gear, other items.  I also had to carry 3 camera systems which pushed the weight of my bike to 77 pounds! 

We rode 70-100 kilometers per day on roads just like these,

The endless roads of Hokkaido that extended far beyond the horizon.



A fox that walked out of the woods to greet us!

I was at first unsure if it was a dog because it was so friendly and seemed to want to be petted.  Not wanting rabies, I kept my distance however.  





Many motorcyclists shared the roads with us and always waved at us as we passed each other.





The tall Australian in the back was with NHK news network and filmed us for an upcoming piece titled "Cycling in Hokkaido." 





The most Northern Point in Japan.

The seafood there was incredible!

A summer festival in Asahikawa City that we were lucky enough to be there for.




The Blue Pond.  



Sunset over one of the many lakes of Hokkaido.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hokkaido Cycling Trip

I am currently on a three-week cycling trip around Hokkaido with the ICU Cycling Club!  

After cycling for well over 1000 kilometers with 75 pound bikes, we finally reached Cape Soya, the northernmost point in Japan.

Cycling through the open fields, winding valleys, mountains, and along the coastline of Hokkaido is like a dream.  Not to mention that I am enjoying this adventure with my closest friends that I have made this year in Japan.  I will be leaving Japan on August 12th and couldn't have asked for a more perfect way to end this year abroad.



I'll post more updates when I manage to find wifi like today.  In the meantime, here are some pictures of a fox that came out of the forest to greet our group when we were resting on the side of the road.







Thursday, July 10, 2014

Humans of ICU

Here is an interview I recently had with a group from the International Christian University about my experiences in Japan as a Japanese American.

http://www.icuxalumni.com/derek-yamashita/

Monday, June 23, 2014

Roppongi Hills Club

A few days ago I had the chance to visit the Roppongi Hills Club and was able to capture this shot.  I have been waiting all year for a chance to take this picture!

    Full post to come after I finish finals.