The 3rd Anniversary of the Disaster in Japan

20140311-150752.jpgby lilsuika on deviantArt

So here it is. 3 years on from the great disaster and 1 year on from the official publishing date of the project’s book.

I wish I could report much better news, but both situations are rather disappointing. While Prime Minister Abe continues to ignore the ongoing problems in the Tohoku region, covers up mistakes thanks to the secrecy bill he passed despite massive opposition, misspends charity funds and distracts the world with the shiny waste of money that is the Tokyo Olympics, now we also have the problem of children growing up in the shadow of the disaster.

Children are suffering from the effects of not just the disaster itself, if they were alive then, but the prolonged stress of living in pitiful temporary homes and being forced to live indoors because of fears of radiation. Mental health issues are up, physical development is way down. Japanese children are already robbed of a lot of their childhood as it is, but this is so much worse.

Similarly, our book has been out for a year but sales are poor. The initial thought was that all it would take was a good idea and people would jump on board to help, but that is not the case. We were unable to raise much money in the crowdsourcing Indiegogo project and so we couldn’t afford to advertise the book much. Even so we are still just a small team of three teachers.

In truth, I didn’t want to show numbers publicly because it is kind of embarrassing, but maybe that is what it will take to get people to take some action, help our project, even with just a share, and start raising some serious money to help disaster victims.

We are selling about five books a month now worldwide, but we have only just made 100 USD in the American market, while the combined remainder of the international market is less than 30 USD.

If we were to take that money raised and give it equally to each student who contributed to the book (just as an example) then each person would get about 50 yen. That’s not even half the money needed to buy the cheapest useless piece of rubbish from a bargain store. So how are we supposed to help all these victims?

20140311-152418.jpgHow long could you live like this? 3 years?

20140311-152451.jpgWhy does she have to?

Today is the 3rd anniversary of the earthquake. As I write this, it’s just past the minute when the tsunami first struck land, wiping out over 30,000 lives instantly and damaging countless others. Let’s do something to help those who survived. Let’s make them realise they are not alone, like they think they are.

Just share this post That’s all I ask you to do. All you have to do is click. You do that thousands of times each day with no consequence other than cat pictures and music videos. So make one click count and share.

I hope that when the anniversary comes around again I can bring better news for you

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Presentations

Hello everyone. How are things now that summer is coming to an end? I can’t wait for all this humidity to finally clear!

This is just a quick update. There is nothing to report for the book project. Only that we are still planning to begin writing more reviews for a second edition over the winter vacation. And we are about to reach a milestone in sales, but I don’t want to reveal numbers as it is a little embarrassing. Basically, we need to sell more!

So please spread word of our project to help tsunami victims!

Students have returned from their summer vacation – though it isn’t much of a vacation as they still come to school every day for their club activities – lessons have started, and next week, the second grade will give their presentations on Japanese anime vs Cartoons. It should be interesting and I plan to provide a report on here.

So that’s it. Please keep spreading the word and help us sell more copies of this unique book.

Thank you!

Waiting in the Wings

Ooh look! It’s a rare moment of free time. Watch, children. Don’t startle it. It’ll run away if it senses you watching. Then we’ll have to do work.

The first edition is complete, in the shops and selling…. Maybe. In fact we have nothing else to do for it, apart from on-going advertising. I am pleased to report that we will also be interviewed by the local paper this Friday. So that will help us too.

Meanwhile, the second edition is yet to be started. It is waiting in the wings. The 2nd grade students are just starting a presentation project. They are comparing Japanese anime to Western cartoons. It’s a build up to their book project. Practice at expressing their opinions in detail. This time in the safety of their groups.

It should be interesting as we are telling them to use video and slides. I am interested to see what examples they pick. I have always been a fan of cartoons. I got into anime a little but the bad storytelling puts me off now. They think its great though. I’m wondering if it will bring any otaku (anime nerds) to the surface.

Once that project is finished, they will be writing their reviews for the book, over the holiday. I wonder what we will get this year. If you check out the book you’ll see that someone reviewed Shingeki kyojin or Attack On Titan which has become the most popular anime of the year. That’s how far ahead of the curve we were.

So if you want to know what’s going to be cool next year from Japan, support our next effort!

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Presented!

So I guess I should really write a blog. I’ve been meaning to but with one issue or another it always becomes a time suck. Well here we are, still in limbo.

The first edition has been finished and in shops for a while now. Sales are trickling in but we really need to spread the word more and more. However, slowly it is happening. We are still a few weeks off writing the reviews to add to the next edition. Right now, students are gearing up for the midterm tests. So, it’s all very busy.

In May, I had the opportunity to present the book in front of a prefectural English teachers meeting, which definitely generated some interest. It’s also funny how different the stage looks from in front of the glaring lights and how hard it is to judge if the microphone is working. Still, after sitting through a two hour lecture in Japanese, the brief ideas of what I wanted to say to the group flitting through my head, I actually made a bit of a mess of this. However, I got the message across. After the presentation, which was only a few minutes, many of the teachers looked at the book and one of them even bought a copy right there.

With that done, there isn’t much on the horizon until we start the project with the next lot. S unless we have a staggering increase in sales or the book spontaneously combusts or something, we’ll keep our head down.

Please share news of this project with anyone you think might be interested.

Delivered!

A quick update for you. It’s still spring vacation and I’ve been enjoying throwing off all the stress of this busy year, and most of that has come from this project! However, I went into school to discuss next year’s lessons and I was pleased to see that our order of 65 books arrived. It’s great to see the finished, final version. The cover is all glam and corrected. Even the interior looks much better but I did nothing to that. It’s just psychological.

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So, we’ll be getting those signed as soon as students return to school and shipping them off to our Indiegogo backers. We also need to discuss what we are going to do with all those copies. Some will go in our library, the rest will probably go to other schools.

We also discussed doing the project again this year, with the new second grade. We’ll create a bumper second edition that will feature 200 more reviews. That’s double what we have now!

So, audience, you’ve barely had time to digest the first edition, but we want to know: for a few dollars more, would you be willing to buy a bigger, new edition next year? Leave your comments below.

Released!

This is it! The book is now available in all Amazon stores. So I guess our release date is now. As of 20th March, 2013 ”Let’s Pop Culture! o(^0^)o A guide to Japanese culture written by real Japanese high school students in English!” is released!
goo.gl/N4zf6 (US) goo.gl/HehUf (UK) goo.gl/m66yT (JP)
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It’s been a long, hard road.

Today I’m visiting classes to give them the good news, show the book to those who haven’t seen it, and deliver my annual ALT prize for those students who made an effort with English this year. I made some key rings featuring the panda mascot of my Japanese culture blog (http://sakurapandateatime.blogspot.com). Hopefully, they will have the sense to get curious and google it to find out what Sakura Panda Tea Time is. It will be good study for them to try and understand what I am saying about familiar topics.

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Yesterday, I sent out the exclusive PDF version of our book to the Indiegogo backers. I’ve already had one person come back with how happy they are,so that’s really nice to hear. I hope the others are suitably proud.

We’ll be able to fulfill the other perks when the school receives its first shipment of books. That should be April 1st.

Publishing

Good morning, afternoon, good evening and good night, depending where and when you are reading this.

Again, its been a while since I could last sit down and write a full blog post, so I hope you have been following our Facebook page. A lot has happened too. So where to start?

First of all, after finishing the book I sent it to Amazon to check. They had a few minor quibbles which I fixed, and then we ordered our proof copy. It arrived within three days! I was totally surprised, but it was also great to see it.

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However, we spotted straight away that there were a few problems. For some reason, the front cover was a lot lower quality than the back cover. Perhaps it was something to do with how I imported each part into the full cover template, but I corrected it by copying the procedure I had done for the back cover. Also, I had previously misspelled the Principal’s name and had corrected it (I remember doing it!) but it was wrong again in the book and some of the contents pages were wrong. So I corrected those again and sent the new file to Amazon.

Meanwhile, with some physical copies of the book we were able to show the students what they had accomplished. So yesterday, I visited some classes and let them have a look. They seemed very impressed. I think a high number of them had either not believed it would happen or had given up on it because it had taken so long.

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I don’t blame them really. The whole process has been much longer and more difficult than I expected. Mainly this was because of Japanese laws of copyright and safety concerns about the students (which is why there are no names or pictures of them in the book)

Lastly, and perhaps the best news as it shows that others have finally understood the importance of this project, I want to tell you about a meeting that took place yesterday.

Our school, Mukaiyama, is a model school in the prefecture for advanced English teaching which the BOE hopes that all high schools will soon adopt. So it is the job of one of my teachers to report on classes, projects and materials to important figures in education around the country. Yesterday, he had one such meeting and, with a copy of the book to show, he talked about our publishing project.

He says (I wasn’t there) the members were very impressed and the lead advisor mentioned that it was an important achievement in all of Japan, so he wants to help promote it and tell people about it. It looks like the project might finally get some of the support it deserves!

Stay tuned for more information. The final book is with Amazon now and approved. We are just writing for it to appear in the online stores. We are told it will take about a week!

Final leg

Hi there,

It’s been almost a month. All that time I’ve just been trying to squeeze in bits of edits here and there but I absolutely must get the book published before the end of the school year! It would be sad to keep the students waiting.

So to bring you up to speed, the school has decided not to do further fundraisers. Partly this is because how terrible the Indiegogo project went. I can only blame myself for not knowing how to market it properly, but it did surprise me how few people were interested. I thought we would reach our target easily.

Anyway, using the ~500 USD we got from that, we are going to buy about 50 copies of the book and keep some in the library. The rest will be distributed to other schools in Sendai. I’m really sad that we couldn’t at least get a copy for each of the students who contributed. I hope they will be happy.

As for the editing, I’m just adding the final pictures. The Japanese teachers have set up the Createspace account with Amazon, so I then just need to upload it. The problem is how long it will take for Amazon to ship the preview copy to us.

So I’ll get on with that. You keep supping your tea. You can also enjoy some illustrations done by students that will feature in the book.

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Happy New Year Delays!

20130108-100030.jpgChristmas lights here in Sendai.

Hello! And a Happy New Year,

The new term has started. All the students and teachers at Mukaiyama wish you a successful and productive new year!

I’m afraid that the winter vacation proved to be busier than I expected. So I wasn’t able to complete the book on time. As such, our new target for sending it to the publishers s the end of January. Please don’t be concerned. This doesn’t affect the quality of the book at all, we just want to make sure we finish a quality product.

It’s coming along nicely, though its important to me that we have a finished product before the end of the school year (March, here in Japan) as I fear some of the students will forget about this project!

That’s it for now. I’ll resume more regular updates as I get settled back into work!

New Japanese Culture blog

Hello, hello.

Things are progressing slowly. Tomorrow is the last day of school before the winter vacation. So I’ll finally be able to have more time to devote to formatting the book. I’m almost done. I hope to have it complete and ready by the end of the vacation.

However, I also wanted to promote my new blog and YouTube channel that I am starting with my girlfriend. We have both been living in Japan for several years so we are going to make videos about Japanese culture with the aim of helping newbies and presenting differences to foreigners. So if you are interested in learning even more about Japanese culture, please head over to the main site. There you can find links to all our sites on the web. The address is:

Http://Sakurapandateatime.blogspot.com

We’ll release our first video next week but our twitter and tumblr is already active.

Take care, with the end of the world and all, and have a good Christmas! Though I’ll probably blog again before then.

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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.

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