Category Archives: Culture

Ten years, eight months later, leaving Japan

All my bags are packed I'm ready to go

I'm standin' here outside your door

I arrived in Japan in the spring of '02. Arrogant and unsure, excited and cautious, with just a couple of suitcases and almost no contacts on the ground.

Over a decade later it is now time to end this chapter of my life and begin the next one. Over the years I have laughed and loved, cried and screamed, achieved some of my greatest triumphs, spent days cowering in my bedroom hiding from imaginary monsters. I have made a great many amazing friends who will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I have lost a small number whose absence still haunt my thoughts on cold winter nights. I have achieved a great deal, yet I often thought of myself as a fraud.

And I have learned to love this place. So much it tears at my soul to leave. But leave, I must.

These past few years I have often lamented the lack of leadership in this country, the bleak economic future, the degrading social structure and the lack of good Mexican restaurants. But this is not why I leave. The problem is me, not you.

But the dawn is breakin' it's early morn

The taxi's waitin' he's blowin' his horn

Already I'm so lonesome I could die

More and more I have noticed my weaknesses getting strong, my strengths slipping away as I have lost my direction. I have been comfortable. I found, not what I longed for, but what made me feel comfortable. I was letting fear of the unknown push me around in exchange for safe, clean public transportation and one of the best lifestyles in the world. I left my apartment every day and never feared that a lion might eat me before I made it home that night. Life was just too easy.

Lately I have been looking for a catalyst. Something to take me out of my comfort zone and get me living a forward focused life again. I have been looking for the end of the world. And damn, if I didn't find it.

Oh baby, I hate to go

There's so many times I've let you down

So my apartment has been disassembled, pieces scattered to the winds. I arrived with just a couple of bags and I leave practically in the same condition. Ive traded in all I have for a chance at a new start. And I couldn't be more excited/terrified about it. There are so, so many things I will miss. My comfort spots and my hidden secrets. I'll miss the friends I have made and I'll miss the rich texture of living in one of the most complex and rich cities in the world. I'll miss the world class arts scene and the geek enclave that has been both my home and playground for the last few years. I'll miss the way you can understand what a total stranger is thinking without a look, word, or gesture, but by simply understanding the context of the moment. I'll even miss learning how to be lonely in a city of over 12 million people. Oh, and I'll miss late night combini runs for curry-pan. They are awesome.

Every place I go, I'll think of you

Every song I sing, I'll sing for you

Luckily i am not giving all this up forever. In truth I expect to be back in just a few months. My new job includes a focus on Japan that will bring me back often and keep this country well on my radar. But this is no longer my home. My hat stays on my head or hand. The next time I walk the streets, it will be not as a resident, but once again as a visiting alien, collecting samples and abducting livestock for dark sinister… Err Ok that one got away from me there.

I hope I am making the right decision. The fact that I am so unsure about this move makes me feel that I might finally be getting back on track. For any of my friends who may be surprised by this news, I apologize for keeping this quiet. In truth this was all quite sudden and really only became a real plan a couple of weeks ago. I intend to have my “going away party” but I'm afraid it will have to wait until next year sometime when I can get back for a few days,

So after ten years and eight months this will be my last post as “Steve from Tokyo”. Coming soon (I hope) will be a posts from my new home and life. For these precious years living in one of the most spectacular cities in the world, from the bottom of my heart, “thank you”.

Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane

Don't know when I'll be back again

Oh baby, I hate to go

 

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Livestreaming Report: Belgian Beer Weekend

Three days and 26 hours in the can. I’m writing this on the train to my last day live streaming the Belgian Beer Weekend Tokyo event at Roppongi Hills Arena. Just 8 hours left!

Had a very fun trial run this week with my gypsy Internet TV studio. I think I’m liking the name “Studio@stevenagata” for this monster of mismatched parts from my closet, computers and electrical tape. So far no major hiccups, but a few minor technical glitches I’ll have to work on.

The biggest problem so far has been errors on the Roland VR-5 mixer causing some of the saved streams to corrupt on closing. I lost a few bits I had meant to save including a music act that I thought went pretty well. Since we are not archiving online the video, I’m afraid, is lost forever. Will have to run some endurance tests to try and nail down the problem. Otherwise I might look into on off board video recorder like an Atmos Ninja.

It’s been fun to see so many friends stop by the event. Hoping a few more might make it by today. Keeping the stream up can be pretty draining so I wasn’t able to chat much, but hope that today will be a bit lighter as I starting together the hang of things.

The event itself has been super cool. Great bands, good food, 62 types of beer and a crowd expected to top 20,000 for the four days. Early metrics showing we’ll beat that number decisively with online viewers. Super thanks to Akoni KK, Rob Van Nylen and Dean Fujii for bringing me on board for this event. Hope to do more like it in the future (I hear talk of a possible fashion show! (^_^) ). Also big props to ace Cameraman and super geek Joseph Tame for putting in 4x hours over the agreed work and covering all the concerts like a pro.

Definitely stop by if you have time today. It’s really a great atmosphere. Or tune in on the livestream at http://bit.ly/bbw2011. More detailed reports on my studio later *I hope*

Studio Steve

Ok, first of all I need to come up with a better name than that.

Some work recently has given me the chance to play around with higher level AV gear and in typical fashion I kinda got a bit carried away. A couple of years ago, comrade Danny Choo convinced me to give live streaming a shot, Ustream had just published their iPhone app and I had great fun running around Akihabara streaming micro tours.

I’ll be honest. Personally I watch very little on Ustream, and I NEVER watch my own stuff. The jarring motion when I move the iPhone around makes me carsick in about three seconds. But I do see a strong value there if things are done well, and simply put, I love the gadgets.

In the world of content, the combination of real time and video is the tip of the sword, and combining valuable content, modern technology, and logistical planning can create a new level of communication never before seen. Yeah, it’s basically cable access tv spliced onto the Internet, but think about it. Cable access tv spliced to the Internet. The potential to waste time in vain pursuits shared equally with the power to topple governments.

But I digress. What I am really talking about is the opportunity for Steve to play with gear. And Steve likey the toys.

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New workdesk, or is it playdesk?

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New Desktop

Oooo So many toys!

Made some updates to my desk so I thought I would throw down a quick post.

First of all, I found this great flexible arm for iPads at the Rare Mono shop in Akihabara.  I’m not entirely sold on the positioning right now.  it’s a bit high and I don’t have quite the range of motion I would like, but it does work pretty well.  It’s particularly nice when using it to stream media (like old Firefly episodes) while I am typing away.  As an added bonus I can slave the screen and use it for a second monitor.  It’s also a pretty good setup for using the iPad with facetime and Skype for videoconferencing.  Would be perfect for Google+ hangouts, but no support on iOS yet.

Also added a lamp, mainly to help or videoconferencing.  Unfortunately monitor light alone makes me look even more zombielike than usual so the added light should help keep The Walking Dead references to a minimum.

The desk is getting pretty crowded with all the gear loaded up on it.  I’m sure I get more than my recommended daily allowance of EM radiation from all of this.  But what would I do without my toys?

Anyone care to try to identify the rest of the gear in the shot?

A Question?

Today has been a very surreal day. Online, I have been following continued scandals in Media with the #notw, Japan has seen quite a few developments in recovery efforts from the earthquake, food contamination and continued problems with the nuclear reactors, and a major story development with the sentencing of Lindsey Hawker’s killer. Not to mention a major OS upgrade for Apple computers, 2 new models, both in my potential upgrade path.

In the real world, it’s been a normal, very pleasant day. Had lunch with a good friend, met another later on for a quick chat and update. Not to mention phenomenal weather. Starting to feel a split between my real and online persona and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. Online I feel tied to a world much larger than myself and follow events that have little to do with me personally, yet when I look at the real world around me, I feel like I could turn it all off and lose nothing.

Or maybe I just need some caffeine