I spent most of yesterday searching for a replacement illustrator to make the promotional material for our book. It was hard because most of the artists I found, on my old haunt, the ones that were really good we’re either super busy or they had been inactive for ages.

Well, I’ve found two that are good and available but I’m not totally sure which one to pick. The first has lovely detail and color, but I think his pictures might be too busy and there is something about the characters I don’t like. I’m not sure what it is. But his work is excellent overall. The second has a very good anime style, but maybe it’s too cute? I’m not sure.

So I’ll let you guys have some input. Who do you think should make the header, banner, icon and poster for our online promotion?

No. 1 here


No. 2 here?

This might not be a final choice as people are still applying as I speak. However, crowd input is always good. So please help out!



It appears that I underestimated the ability of Japanese bureaucracy  to be annoyingly complicated. The copyright laws here differ to the extent that we will have to pay a large sum of money to see even a student’s illustration of a character and that’s per image, not per character! In other words we need more money. So our budget will have to rise. I’m really sad about that, but I still believe this project has the potential to attract a lot of interest and generate the money. I’ll have to push harder to advertise it though.


Good morning! It’s another fine week. Rainy season has been officially declared but it’s one of the clearest, sunniest days today. Typical eh?

Things are a bit quiet at the moment. We are busy sorting out boring legal stuff. We have to get permission of my company and confirm permission with the school to make sure everything is okay. Then we have to consider the copyrights for our material. So at some point we will have to ask students permission to publish their work. It’s funny because all this preparation has to be done ahead of time, but it will be for nothing if we don’t get permissions!

So fingers crossed!


I’m working quietly in the background, filling in details for our Kickstarter page. So progress is being made.

How was your weekend?

Budgetary regards

Hello again!

It’s great weather here in Japan now, so I’m in a good mood today.


I’m also in a good mood because I worked out the budget for this project and it looks good for our success.

First of all, I did some research. As you know, I intend to use Kickstarter to help fund this project. I looked at projects on their site and to me, it seems that projects with targets under $2,000 do very well. I’m glad to report that our target will be under this total!

    The Math

I hated math at school so this took me a while. First of all, I looked at two different sites. To publish my novels, I used Lulu in the past. However, since I am in Japan and they don’t print in this country, shipping charges are extortionate! So a quick look at the numbers showed me that this would be an unreasonable option. It would make the Kickstarter target too high, and people don’t want to give us money just to post some books to ourselves.

So next I looked at Amazon’s Createspace and I learned two great things about shipping.

  • If we order from there, shipping is a mere fraction of the price with Lulu.
  • If we are patient we can get free shipping by ordering the book in bulk as a customer! That is, as long as the book is available in the store.
  • So, I think the first option is ideal, to satisfy our backers sooner rather than later, but the second is a viable option should our Kickstarter project fail.

        The Budget

    So taking all costs into account, here is how our budget looks.

    For this example, I have used an estimate of 300 books at 150 pages each, which should be enough to satisfy backers. Obviously, the more money we raise the more copies we will need and be able to order! In short, the more help we get, the better your rewards will be!

    (the first figure is in Japanese yen, the second is USD, what Kickstarter operates in)

    Printing is 300 / 4.00 per book (300 books is 95,000 / 1,200) (200 students, 100 backers)
    Global distribution fee 100 USD
    Shipping is 237/3.00 per book
    Illustration 15,800 yen / 200 USD
    Postcard gifts 30 each / .38 (200 =6000 / 76)
    My overtime 1000 ph / 8.00 p/h = 2 h a day for 2 months = 16 x 60 = 960
    Apologetic meal and present for neglecting girlfriend during project 4000 yen / 50 USD
    Kick starter amazon take 10% = yen or USD
    TOTAL = 3835 USD for a 300 book run with safety margins for printing and such

    This is high


    I want this to be a success so here is what I’m going to do.
    First of all I don’t want to be paid. That’s stupid (-960).
    Secondly, we can get free shipping if we are patient so if we pay for shipping, I’ll pay for it (-900)
    Thirdly, apart from copies of the book, I’ll pay for all incentives and rewards (-76)

    That makes the new total $1,899!

    Just in case there are changes or I have made mistakes let’s round that up to a nice neat number, with a bit of shopping psychology thrown in…

    So our Kickstarter target will be….

    Will you help us reach it? Do you think this is reasonable?

    Konnichi wa! Welcome to Our Project

    Hello, こんにちは,

    Welcome to the blog!

    My name is Matthew Rowe. I am the ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) or Native English teacher at Mukaiyama High school in Sendai, Miyagi, Japan.


    That’s me trying to look Japanese, but don’t let it put you off. I’m generally a decent guy.

    This blog will record the progress me and my students make in finishing our book project.

    What is the project?


    My 2nd grade students are going to write articles on parts of modern Japanese pop culture. They will write reviews of everything from movies to video games, comic books to music and illustrate the book too – because many of them are excellent artists! With their command of English they will express opinions and facts about some of Japan’s most famous characters and celebrities. There will be some you know and many you do not. So here is your chance to learn direct from the Japanese consumers they were designed for.

    Why am I doing this?


    My 2nd grade students have been learning to express opinions with reasons in English class. So, I wanted to have them write reviews in their first project of the school year (Japanese school year starts in April) as the next step up in their education.

    I know there are many people around the world who are interested in Japan and Japanese culture. However, in English, they often have to rely on advice and information from travelers or ex-pats. The problem with this is that it is always an outsider’s perspective. I’m sure fans of Japanese culture and those who are just curious would also benefit from insider information of Japanese people, but they can’t speak English well, right? Wrong!

    The Japanese are much more capable than they think. They just need to take the opportunity. Yes, they are often shy and so don’t take those chances, but it’s my job to give them opportunities and they can’t escape my class! Mwuahahahaha!


    Can you imagine how good it would feel to know you could contribute to and publish a book in a foreign language? It would be amazing, I’d imagine, because I’ve published some books in English and that felt pretty darn good. It would be an incredible boost to their confidence in their English ability and in general.

    Why are we doing this?


    As I am sure you are aware, last year, on March 11th, East Japan was hit by a massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Our city of Sendai was one of the closest to the epicenter and suffered great damage. The school itself only had a few broken windows and the library started to fall down, and all the students and teachers were fine. However, everybody knows someone who lost their home, their family, friends or everything. Only 3 kilometers away entire neighborhoods were swept away, leaving only rubble behind.




    Over a year later, many people are still living in temporary housing, schools are damaged and without resources, businesses are failing and spirits are shaken. The disaster disappeared from the news after a few days, but the effects of it are still deeply felt across much of the country.

    By publishing this book and making it available for purchase around the world, we hope to raise awareness of the continued struggles here and to donate any profits directly to those people affected by the disaster, those who need it the most. Many charities collect donations and the majority of the money is lost in red tape procedures. However, thanks to connections in the local cable TV studio, I am able to bypass this step and give the money directly to the people.

    What can you do?

    On this blog, and the soon to open Kickstarter page, you can follow the progress of the project from its inception to the day of release and beyond!

    Most importantly though, this project will be funded by Kickstarter. In order for this project to work, we need more money. We hope to get enough backers to enable this idea to reach its full potential. The money will help to pay for:

      – Global distribution
      – Advertising
      – Professional illustrator
      – International shipping of the final product
      – A present and slap up meal for my girlfriend who will be much neglected during the period of this project’s execution

    So, if you are inclined, you could:

      – tell people about the project
      – pledge money to the kickstarter page
      – buy the book

    and most importantly,

      – help out the people of Tohoku, Japan.
    • Thank you for reading. I hope you will come back again and support us!

    Blog Stats

    • 1,107 hits

    Fundraising ends!

    The EndDecember 1st, 2012
    Our big fund raiser is coming to an end... Here's when. Thank you for all the support! We all really appreciate it.

    Machuusensei on Twitter

    Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.