October 2013

Hello, dear reader, and welcome to ‘Tohoku Pillows.’ I’m Steph, and from 2011 to 2013 I lived in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture, the northeast region of Tohoku, mainland island Honshu, Japan. If you read a single newspaper during those two years, you might be familiar with Fukushima: it is now a name of a place which carries many associations. Whilst there, I worked as an English Language Teacher at six primary schools of various size, location, and situation regarding radiation, exclusion-zone immigration, and a still-present, silent chaos. Before knowing my placement on the JET Programme, and before March 2011, I had started this blog; I had applied to live in northeast Japan purely on the grounds of my interest in pre-modern Japanese poetics, unknowing then that life in Fukushima itself – her students, teachers, and my colleagues and friends – would become so important. My experiences there certainly coloured what this blog became, and it was only in my second year, once work and danger calmed in unison, that I had the leisure to once again to think of poetry.

I am now returned to the UK, and am a part-time student at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London, reading pre-modern Japanese literature. The reminisces of an already-past time which were (b)logged here, will become, I hope, the basis for one of the most important pieces of academia I might ever have the patience, love, and time to write. For this reason, my research regarding the poetic device ‘utamakura’ and its significance in how the Japanese people have, and do, relate to their land – a land which today, in the aftermath of march’s earthquake and tsunami, may very well find these allusions of old applicable still – must now be taken down if I am to avoid the dreaded danger of self-plagiarism (it’s happened before..). There will therefore be a few gaps in my old poetry posts, but I hope once I have finished my degree, I can re-post some of the good times. Still present are posts about my time in Fukushima, and then-updates of radiation readings and building re-buildings, which can be found in the ‘Living in Tohoku’ catergory.

Thanks for having read those Pillow Posts. Let’s hope I make something worthy of them, eh!

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