This past weekend, Brits living in the Fukushima Prefecture were invited up to the British Hills Resort (just as it sounds) to partake in a conference with the UK Ambassador of Japan, David Warren. With only a few of us attending, the conference was of about twelve people or so, and conducted in a mock Edwardian period library. David Warren wished to discuss the aftermath of the March earthquake, and how the Embassy chose to advise UK residents who were already living in Tohoku at the time. This discussion led us to consider how Japan may feel she’s being viewed by the rest of the world – and how various generations of Japanese people view the rest of the world themselves. I managed to have a nifty chat with the Ambassador concerning my students’ disinterest in foreign travel and experience; Mr. Warren expressed worry that Japan is heading towards another possible internalisation – and that strangely, the older generations hold a worldly interest far surpassing that belonging to the youth. Mr. Warren’s wife, Mrs. Pamela Warren whom I was sat beside, said that school programmes such as JET have the opportunity to challenge that attitude. I’ve decided to throw in a few more reasons as to why we learn languages in my school lessons: what benefits we can come to own if we were to gain a wider cultural insight, curiosity and understanding. Even if it becomes just a means to further understand their own culture, at least considering Japan through different eyes would recommend a more critical style of self- reflection in my students.

Aside from that rather wonderful debate, British Hills offered a lot to entertain. Guest residences were named after various brilliant British chaps (we were staying in ‘Drake’, beside ‘Chaucer’), a few of which were legitimate Tudor buildings transported from England and rebuilt by Japanese specialist carpenters. Quite ridiculous really, but the place did quench some of my homesickness pangs. Afternoon tea was served in the Ascot Tea Room, and a nature trail along the scenic mountain tops was bordered with British breeds of trees. Being surrounded by other British folk was quite a nice break from the constant ‘Gaijin’ (alien) status my appearance inevitably carries, and at that height, our mountainous resort was punctured by a chill reminiscent of London’s winters. Feeling a bit more relaxed, refreshed, and arrogant that David Warren went away remembering my name. David Warren. A good weekend.

(David Warren.)