I returned to Japan on July 15, 2008, after a long stay in the U.S., and I started the Three Steps Over Japan blog on July 17. So today marks my 1 year anniversary, and I guess this is a good time to recap.
TSOJ has over 370 blog posts, and the knol index page is getting a bit bulky, so I'm going to start up Page 2.
In the last couple of months, I started up 2 other blogs, making 3 total so far. TSOJ remains the main blog, where I record my thoughts, impressions and images of Japan, as well as anime- and manga-related stuff. Nihon-go Hunter is where I've moved my manga translations work and my Learning Japanese posts. Finally, I'm happy to announce Maid Runner - a review site of maid cafes and related shops in Akihabara and beyond.
Actually, while maid cafes are largely aimed at male customers, there is an equivalent for women, called the "butler cafe". There aren't as many bulter cafes and they're mostly located in Ikebukuro. But I do plan on mentioning them in Maid Runner when I get the chance. Right now, I'm only reviewing one cafe a week on Fridays (usually I visit one on Tuesday before work, and then post the review on the following Friday), and running maid-related commentary on Tuesdays.
I started working as an online English teacher at a business school in October, and I've been doing that 4 days a week. It's fun and I've met a lot of interesting people because of it. I bought my cross bike in December and I've been trying to ride it at least 1 hour three times a week, mostly along the Tamagawa river, but I have done a little city exploring during that time as well. I've lost a few pounds because of it, and had to buy a new belt. I've met a few interesting people along the trails, too.
I now have 2 photo albums, one on Photo Bucket and the other on Media Fire. I've taken close to 1000 photos during the last year, probably more than I've taken during the entire rest of my life, total. 3 of them have been run in the Japan Times newspaper, but you don't get paid for reader submissions.
I've visted various places around Tokyo, and gotten out to Takao-san a couple of times. Haven't been to Fuji-san this time, I need to do that soon. It's been 1 or 2 years since I was in Yokohama, Kawasaki, Kamakura or Enoshima, so I need to go back to those places as well. I love the Chinatown restaurants in Yokohama, and Enoshima/Kamakura has some nice beach front. I'd also love to get on a ferry and get out to one of the islands outside Tokyo Bay. But, given the chance, I'd be more likely to go back down to Gifu to look around for a few days.
I haven't been able to meet as many people in the anime and manga fields as I wanted to. I was able to meet Tori Miki (Frozen Food Agent) and talk with him for an hour. I also met the head of Ekura Animal studio, Honda-san, and visited his studio. Plus I've met with one of the heads of Suginami Animation Museum, and that led to my starting up a knol on the history of the anime industry. I did offer to volunteer at the museum, primarily to translate exhibit materials into English, but they turned me down for that.
My Japanese has gotten somewhat better. I haven't been back to the school since September, but I want to change that. I'm not studying actively right now, but I do still do my amateur manga translations, I'm constantly reading manga, and I occasionally watch TV anime on my MP3 player or listen to podcasts on the train. I guess that I prefer reading manga over the other stuff, though.
Plans for the following year:
Continue these blogs, and try to increase the visibility of Maid Runner to where I can get advertising on it from the cafes. Do more travelling. Continue to try to meet more people in the animation and manga industry. I'll keep working on the anime history research, manga translation and Learning Japanese entries. Build more Gakken kits - as long as they're for things I like. I want to visit some sake factories around Tokyo (I got to the Suntory brewery in Fuchu yesterday). Continue cycling when the weather is good, and get in at least one long trip (50+ miles) a month. At a minimum, ride my bike out past Takao to Fuji during a long holiday.
Oh yeah, the next Coffee Trade Fair will be in the Fall, so I have to hit that, too...