Wolfgang Eastman

Child of Nature Navigating Tokyo Futurescapes

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Tragedy Tourism: Aokigahara

Over the Halloween weekend, I went to the movie theater for the first time since I’ve returned from Tokyo. Crimson Peak, the new del Toro “horror” movie was actually more of a period drama more than anything, which I would like if I intended to see a period drama. Even so, I did enjoy the costumes and my date was interesting enough that I could always look over to him whenever the screen started to bore me. However this post isn’t about that movie as much as it is about one of the trailers that came before it.

There was this trailer for a new horror film starring Natalie Dormer called “The Forest.” Ok, I really like her in Game of Thrones. It’s about her trying to find her twin, when she feels like something is wrong with her “twinometer.” Creepy twins… it’s a little cliche but otherwise inoffensive. Then it shows her going to Japan to find her sister and she recruits a rugged American...

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The More; The Barrier

There is something that has been slowly enveloping me over time since I’ve arrived in the east. It goes beyond culture shock. Calling it Homesickness doesn’t properly explain it either. It’s all of those things and none of them. It’s amazingly subtle and yet has an undeniable effect. I can only call it “The Barrier.” I’m not sure what it’s purpose is. I can’t tell if it is beneficial to me somehow or if it simply exists the same way gravity or tectonic plates do. All I know is that it’s getting hard to ignore.

Recently one of my Japanese friends had just discovered the concept of skinny dipping and during a newspaper club meeting asked me about if that was just another American stereotype. When I told the group that I had spent a large amount of my summer nights doing just that with my friends, I felt “The Barrier” pulsate and glow a little more strongly. I couldn’t understand why it...

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Train Pains and Sick Gainz

Tokyo is a magically wonderful wonderland…..OR IS IT? Yeah it’s pretty great. However there are somethings that just boggle the mind. When you think Tokyo, you think robots and steel and neon. Tech Nirvana. But then you realize that the ATM’s are closed on the weekends and nights and you think “What is even the point?”

I was hosting my pal Wanda, who is well known for her babe-a-tude and electric soul, on her layover in Tokyo. It was about 11 hours of time between her next flight. So I did my Tokyo Tours thing and showed her where I hang out and whatever. However this tour came with a commitment. “Once we get to Shibuya we have to stay there until morning. No going back.”

This wasn’t a commitment based on love and trust, or even a commitment based on my extremely neurotic need for people to stick schedules. This was a commitment based around the fact that Trains stop running after...

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A Model and his Typhoon(s)

My life in Japan has become more glamorous than I ever really expected it to be. I hardly have time to reflect on what is happening before the next whirlwind picks up and I’m swept into another alien and dazzling experience. The synapses in my mind have become the sole record keepers, and they are buzzing at one another at around 20,000 volts (of course this is hyperbole, otherwise I’d be just another ghost with a blog.) I’m gonna try and write it down rightttttttttt…..now.

Speaking of whirlwind lifestyles, if you have been reading the concerned text messages my mom has been sending me, then you know that Japan had been recently hit by not one, but two typhoons less than a week apart from one another. Seattle’s weather is so mild in comparison to Japan. When I first got here it was a gorillion degrees Celsius and then a few weeks later winds got so strong that a door slammed on some...

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Local Memory Access(P.S. I’m Pretty)

Recently I was accepted into a position as an English chat leader at Aoyama Gakuin University (which is the school I’m going to if anyone wasn’t sure.) That means that a few times a week I lead discussions in English, with native Japanese speakers to help them improve their speaking skills. This allows me to become a larger part of the school community and it usually gives me just enough money to cover lunch those days. Not a bad deal.

Yesterday my students were different than the ones we usually get in the office. I had the chance to have some conversations with local residents that live close to the school. In my case I had four middle-aged housewives come hang out with me for 45 minutes and talk about their hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, and the difference between Seattle, Washington and Seattle, Washington D.C. (The secret is one of those places isn’t even an actual place.)...

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“If I can’t use magic, I want to die”

So the other day I went to Akihabara (also known as big geeky nerd town), to buy a SIM card for my phone. Having to rely on Wi-Fi for the past couple weeks has really been a bummer. When you stand outside Starbucks without buying anything often enough, people start to notice and then you start to sweat under the intensity of the millions of eyes transfixed on your ivory skin and unfortunately orangish hair. The store that sold them was more than 8 stories high and filled with gadgets, restaurants and a golf range and batting cages on the top, although that floor was swarming with Japanese business men that probably don’t even listen to Beck.

I remembered that there was a new single being released by Seiko Oomori (大森靖子) that day and since I had been looping the promotional video on YouTube for a few days I figured this electric wonderland would be a fitting place to buy my first CD in...

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To the Core

Most days I feel normal, like nothing has really changed. I walk to school, I walk back home. I take naps. I listen to the same music. I wear the same clothes. Then there are those moments when the sake tastes perfect or when the sun sets just right from the train window. In those moments my eyes become sparkly and my smile hurts from overuse. It’s like an earthquake from my heart saying “This is Tokyo, I’ll tell you h'what.”

All metaphorical earthquakes aside there was real one yesterday, and I actually felt it, unlike the other 25 that have occurred since I arrived at the beginning of the month. I was on the 8th floor of my school building when it happened and our desks start wobbling back and forth for about a full minute. No one gave a fuck. I knew that earthquakes were a common occurrence in Japan, so I just followed their lead and put on my “playing it cool” shades.


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Respect for the Ancient

Today was Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日)which is kind of like arbor day, except you close the post office to respect the elderly instead of trees. I asked my Japanese friends if they were gonna call their grandmas or anything and they were like “nah.” So there doesn’t seem to be any big purpose other than no school.

Did you know that Japan has a population problem? An ideal population looks like a pyramid with the youth creating the base and supporting a small and tidy tip of elderly folks. However, in Japan the pyramid is inverted. Someone call Imhotep, cause that’s not good pyramid building. The population and longevity of elderly folks is creating quite the stir. In the small towns that actually do something to celebrate their elders, the age used to be 60 and up. Now everyone is 60 and up. We don’t have infinite respect guys, come back when you are 70. Katie Couric was totally on...

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2nd Shift

It’s been a little more than a week since I crossed the Pacific. Tokyo is full of energy. Electric. Kinetic, and Spiritual. I’m slowly but surely finding ways to siphon these energies and it’s addictive.

I’m currently watching a cicada on my balcony. It’s life ended my first night here, in my dorm, when it forcibly tried to enter my room through a glass door. On around the 17th attempt it stopped being able to get up and resigned itself to die on the veranda, or at least that’s what I thought. I’ve tried to respect it’s resting place every time I’ve gone to hang up my laundry, but the way it died on it’s back with it’s soft core exposed to the rest of the world…I wouldn’t want to be seen that way. Then again I’m not going to touch it, cause that thing is nasty looking. That’s just how death looks sometimes.

Right now I’m watching it’s legs twitch and stretch out to maximum length. I...

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Totes Tokyo

So it’s finally happened. I’ve made it to the land of the rising sun. So far it’s more like the land of extreme humidity (and apparently dengue fever outbreaks) but the magic I feel walking through the sardine can train terminals and the electric jungle gyms is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

I’m gonna get this out of the way for all the people who are curious about the toilets. They are amazing and I can never go back to America for this sole reason. Now shut up. I don’t ever want to talk about these toilets again, regardless of how they have changed my life and single-handedly ruined all other bathroom activities for me. I don’t care that they are the solution to all the worlds problems, and they will probably be my happiest memory I will ever have, leaving me with nothing when I have to part with them. This is the only paragraph you get about toilets. THIS IS IT.

The first...

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