Japan X4: Uryu Iwako

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Greetings all!

Right – so I’ve been living in Japan for about a month now, and so far I am having a blast. Naturally, I am still finding my feet and exploring what Tokyo has to offer. Just recently, I was recommended to go to Asakusa: A well known area, home to a popular shrine. Of course I went, and I loved it!

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Senso-ji Temple. Apparently Japan’s oldest Temple, associated with Tendai Buddhism

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The Five-storied Pagoda was founded in 942 and rebuilt in 1648 by Tokugawa Iemitsu. Apparently a bone relic of the Buddha, presented by Sri Lanka is placed on the topmost part of the Pagoda!

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A copper statue of the 9th Danjuro Ichikawa, the famous Kabuki actor

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Asakusa was truly remarkable. However there was one thing that stood out – something that led me to research further, even after my visit to Asakusa. As I browsed the temple grounds, I was led to a small area that contained a handful of stone tablets. There I found the most striking statue of a woman long gone. Her name was called: Uryu Iwako.

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Uryu Iwako: The great social worker

While most of the tourists and visitors were glued to the various other sights, this particular sight seemed to be overlooked. Nobody was marveling at her, or stopping for a moment to read the plaque. However, I was drawn to the statue and everything about it. She was seated, so warm and peacefully – giving off a sense she must have been a very giving and loving person. The statue portrayed a happy, confident, gentle yet driven individual. However, what made this statue so special? I am sure there were many notable people throughout Japan’s history, so why this seemingly common and friendly looking woman?

Upon reading the plaque, I found that the woman was a driving force in educating the girls of her clan (Aizu Clan). She also established the Fukushima relief facility, for the poor and orphans. She also founded the Midwifery research institute and Saisei Hospital – essentially promoting social work.

I guess that explains why she was immortalized. She was a great contributor to Japanese society. It also explains why the sculptor carved her image in such a respectable way. She seemed like someone I would have loved to meet. She also seemed like someone that was greatly needed, during the time of the Meiji restoration.

I wonder what kind of amazing things Uryu Iwako would contribute to today, if she were still alive? Either way, her efforts were not in vain, and will be remembered forever.

Thank you for reading!

Ricky Baxter

 

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Japan X3: HUMAN

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Hello and thank you for stopping by my blog, about my life and observations, living in Tokyo Japan!


So, I’ve been in Tokyo for a little under a month – working as an English teacher by day, writing by night and exploring the city, during my days off. Because of this cycle, I can see a glimpse into how the Japanese people operate within this society, and much of their feelings, which I must say: is no different from any other human being around the world.

When making assumptions about a particular race, it really is beneficial to see for yourself.

At work my classes are full of jokes and banter – sharing stories of travel, food and music (to name but a few). Some students are workers by day and singers by night. Others are looking to broaden their horizons by travelling, while others are just stay at home parents. What I find remarkable about this, is that although our languages, culture and societal norms are different, our human traits are very much the same. Our humor, opinions and feelings are no different, regardless of being from a different country altogether. For some reason, I assumed the mindset of such a people from the other side of the globe would be alien to me – however I was mistaken. I’ve learnt that it’s important to not judge a book by it’s cover (or a people, based on news and word of mouth). When making assumptions about a particular race, it really is beneficial to see for yourself. No amount of speculation can compare to that. And if you find distasteful elements to a certain race, perhaps you can find a reason for why such an element exists.

The people I’ve met are driven, ambitious, respectful, creative and hard working – like anywhere else in this world. The result will be different, depending on the country and the customs – however strip it all away, and that basic human trait can always be found. In my opinion, this holds true to all places this world.

We really are not that different after all. Who would have guessed, haha!

Thanks for reading!

Ricky Baxter

P.S if you enjoyed my post, please feel free to see my books, available on the My Books Section and Amazon!

 

Japan X2: Friends

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Greetings again, and thank you for following my journey, living in Japan!


It’s been 2 weeks since arriving to Tokyo Japan, and I’ve finally gotten used to my surroundings (I only get lost once a day, instead of 5 times a day), I can finally ask for what I want in a shop, without playing a game of charades each time, and I’ve started my teaching day job!

This is all good and well, however one thing that I wondered, was how does a non-speaking foreigner like myself make actual friends here? To be honest I wasn’t concerned with this initially, as I had hoped to buy a kitten. However, my landlord forbids it. As such I am left with no choice but to forge bonds with actual humans (Bah).

In many ways, making fellow Gaijin friends in Japan is easier than in our own western countries, as we don’t have the luxury of having both family and friends around us.

Regarding making friends: Are there spots to go? Bars? Clubs? Online groups? These things went through my mind during my flight. I joined a few groups on Facebook, which to be perfectly honest was a waste of time. In my opinion, they’re basically guises where females produce the most cringe and raunchy, low quality pics of themselves for guys to say how sexy they are. Thankfully I made a nice handful of fellow teachers through my work (Yaaaay!). They too are foreigners that have journeyed thousands of miles across the ocean to be here, which is kind of nice to know that others are in similar positions.

In many ways, making fellow Gaijin friends in Japan is easier than in our own western countries, as we don’t have the luxury of having both family and friends around us. In Japan it’s just you, which forces you to not be complacent. In London, if there was a show or expo around, which could potentially bring forth new friends and acquaintances, I would more than likely not go – as I already had a circle of friends and family. Naturally I don’t have that here, which in many ways is a good thing, as this forces me to make more of an effort.

In a nutshell, there is no one way to make friends abroad, just like there is no one way to make friends at home. All you need is to put yourself out there, more than you used to.

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Btw, if you’re thinking of making native Japanese friends however, and you don’t speak Japanese yourself… forget it (which shouldn’t be too surprising to hear). Without knowing how to have a conversation in Japanese, you’ll only make Gaijin friends. This is fine of course – however if you hope to make at least one Japanese pal, you’d better crack open that text book and learn some Japanese!

Thank you for reading and see you next time!

Ricky Baxter

 

 

Japan X 1: Arrival

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Greetings all, and apologies for being MIA.

For those new here, my name is Ricky Baxter, writer and self-published author of a slew of amazing novels, on Amazon.

Born and raised in London UK,  I recently took up a teaching role in Tokyo Japan, and have been living here for the past week. Over the coming months I’ll be posting my experiences, once a week under the title Japan X (Sounds amazing right?). Let’s get started shall we?

In Akihabara

“Why on earth Japan?” you may say? Well… I have always had a certain attachment to Japanese culture, ever since watching my first anime and playing my first console game. Over the years, such content would inspire me to create my own work, such as writing and music. In the back of my mind I always wondered what Japan really was like. What sort of lives do such a people lead? What about their life brings them to create such profound and passionate stories, told through the medium of their many forms of entertainment?

Of course moving past the bright lights, there are more deeper things to see, such as museums, parks, temples and landmarks.

 I had to know, which was why I took up a teaching role to explore the culture that granted so much inspiration to me. Perhaps being so close would heighten my creative juices even more as a writer?

My farewell post leaving the UK. Awww😢

Fast forward after a ridiculously long and uncomfortable flight and here I am, with 2 overley packed suitcases. So far I’ve seen Shinjuku and Akihabara, which had the well expected glitz and glamour. Of course moving past the bright lights, there are more deeper things to see, such as museums, parks, temples and landmarks.

A Buddhist temple in Shinjuku. I can’t explain it, but a feeling of awe and wonder overcomes me when I see these temples, more than the modern skyscrapers so far🤔

So far, the various shinto and Buddhist temples have resonated with me, more than anything else, which is surprising – for I expected to be more impressed by the glitz and glamour. In fact, the area where I am staying: Tabata, a residential place has caught my eye more. Perhaps it’s because this reveals the real day to day living of the Japanese, and not the flashy sights that can be found anywhere else? Time will tell, and I’ll be sure to update you, every step of the way.

Tabata

Thanks for reading!

Feel free to connect to my insta and Facebook!

And if you would like to know more about my work, check out My books section or head to Amazon 

Ricky Baxter

Bounce DanceFit Creator

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About a year ago, I wrote a great piece on Franco Conquista, the man behind the great workout dance craze called Bounce. Recently I came across a post that sums up who his creation is all about!

Bounce DanceFit Fitness Program 

“Fitness must not involve strenuous exercises in the gym. There’s more to staying fit other than gyming or dieting. Fitness is all about having fun with your body and staying fit by losing extra calories in a simple way. The best thing about dance is that, it’s suitable for all ages and doesn’t cause muscle pains and joint aches. It strengthens tones and improves both flexibility and posture. Most fans say dancing helps them build stamina and relax especially after a tiresome day.

Bounce Dance Fit is a fitness brand program that was created By Franco Conquista due to high demand in the UK. He identified the gap that existed in the market and decided to launch it as a group exercise class and as the group became popular, he acquired licensed instructors to teach the program. Bounce DanceFit is a choreographed Dance Fitness class whose main objective is to ensure you stay fit while you dance to different street dance styles such as waacking, hip hop, vogue and House. You get to enjoy these in a fun environment in the company of people who make the work out experience captivating.

About the pioneer

Franco Conquista is a professional dance presenter who graduated from one of the best dance schools in Europe, Rambert School and has launched the Bounce DanceFit program in over 20 countries in a span of 18 months only. In addition to that, he won the award for “Best Presenter” in England which proves how committed he is to the fitness program. Recently, he launched a Kids’ version of the fitness program called, “Bounce DanceFit Juniors” which is also doing incredibly well. This year, he has been nominated for the second consecutive time as the Best Presenter of the Year, plus Bounce DanceFit has also been nominated in the Best Brand of the Year category in the “National Community Awards” which are scheduled for November this year.

In England, they refer to him as “The man on Fire” due to the energy he has while on stage and when he’s teaching classes. He’s very passionate and ambitious about the fitness program no wonder he keeps getting nominated. His main aim is to work hard until the whole world starts bouncing to street dance styles and in the process, people stay fit. Now you don’t have an excuse for not losing some extra pounds or maintaining general body fitness when there’s a cool fitness program like Bounce DanceFit. All the choreographies are easy and fun to follow, making it the ideal workout plan for everyone who loves dancing. Lastly, the 45 min dance class offers a constant energetic cardio workout that gets you sweaty in an amazing way.”

Well done Francesco! Keep filling the world with Bounce!

Ricky Baxter

In Search of Real Truth

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We live in a time of great change and vast improvements. We can communicate with one another, in ways never thought of before, and we also have many platforms via social media to find things that affirm or test our opinions and trail of thought.

However, one can’t help but notice the effect these social media platforms have on us and our search for an objective truth.


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Image provided by Buzzle

A good example of this is the ever popular Youtube. Back when it was first released, the type of data it ran on was basic, compared to now. Simply put, if you watched a cooking video, the next suggestion would have no bearing on what you previously watched. The same would go for if you watched a particular debate. The next video suggestion would have almost nothing to do with what you saw beforehand.

What this does is essentially create an online bubble, where you are the centre of it all.

Fast forward to today, and what you have are subjective suggestions that cater to you and your trail of thought. Of course for the individual, this feels like a rather good thing – which saves you the hassle of picking out your desired content. However on a larger scale, what this does is essentially create an online bubble, where you are the centre of it all.

We’ve not only become a post-fact people, but a post truth-people also. Not because the truth doesn’t exist, but because we’ve made the truth our own.

The problem with this, is that it gives us a false sense of objective truth. Because these many social media platforms cater to your mindset, we’re led to believe that the content must indeed be true. However when a diverging view is encountered, we feel threatened and lash out with online abuse – as though our world has come crashing down. Try searching for reasons why gay marriage is a good thing, and you’ll find hundreds of sources that back-up your view. Equally – search for reasons why gay marriage is a bad thing, and you’ll find sources to affirm your opinion. Of course your opinion has now become a fact – because you searched the web to find people who think like you do. So how do you respond to others who critique your view? That’s right… bring out the keyboard and let the insults begin!

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Source: Red Pill nation

We call each other stupid and degrade one another, just for someone offering a different opinion. We react like predictable children – rarely offering room to absorb someone else’s point of view.

Essentially – we’ve not only become a post-fact people, but a post truth-people also. Not because the truth doesn’t exist, but because we’ve made the truth our own. It’s “My” truth, not “our” truth. Then again, perhaps we’ve always been this way inside, and social media is merely reflecting on how we operate? Nevertheless, I am quite intrigued (and slightly worried) as to where this will lead us, as a society in the future.

“Truth does not pay homage to any society, ancient or modern. Society has to pay homage to the Truth or die.” – Swami Vivekananda 

Ricky Baxter

 

Xenoblade Chronicles X -Addresses man’s ignorance?

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So the other day I decided to buy a Wii U – not because I think the catalogue is anything to shout about, but because I was intrigued by one game. That one game was Xenoblade Chronicles X, made by the same minds of: Xenogears, xenosaga and xenoblade chronicles. Upon popping the CD in, I enjoyed a spectacular story filled with mechs, mayhem and marvellous graphics. However throughout the game, a certain message started to develop. This message (through the use of side quests) highlighted man’s habit to discriminate, generalise and blame others that are different.

As the last survivors of earth that was destroyed by an alien species, humanity fled and landed on a planet called Mira. It is here that mankind tries to build a new future. However throughout the game, other alien species join humanity and wish to integrate. Unfortunetely this divides humanity, and many go about targeting the new found aliens – assasinating, kidnapping and even refusing the aliens entry to establishments, just because they’re different. Does this sound familiar? Of course it does. It’s part of our own history. Yet when witnessed in this fictional world, we truly see ignorant our human nature is. Blaming the mysterious aliens that destroyed earth, humanity decided to lump al other aliens into one group and direct their hatred towards them.

Here are just a few races that inhabit Mira and how humanity generalised them:

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The Nopan people. Original inhabitants of Mira. Their integratin was somewhat easy, as they learned to trade with humanitiy – Setting up shops. They’re perhaps the least discriminated of the alien species.

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The Ma-non are the most effected with discrimination. Although they’re peaceful and only seek to aid humanity with new technology and sciences, they are constantly met with opposition. Many humans have banned them from stores – calling them names and even going so far as to kill them. Even those who are somewhat tolerant of the Ma-non find their culteral barriers to be to hard for them.

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The Prone are also another misunderstood group. Mostly because they once worked for the mysterious alien threat that destroyed earth. It’s only through open dialogue that you understand that they had no choice working with the ones who destroyed earth. You also find that there are different tribes that have different values and motives. As the player, you learn how ignorant you yourself is, after lumping them into one species.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To sound off – Xenoblade Chronicles X is an amazing game. Not just for the graphics, gameplay and storyline, but because of the morole undertones it displays.

Well done Monolith!

Ricky

 

 

Interview with Lewisham’s most Creative Screenwriter!

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Greetings all!

As usual I have scoured the streets of London, looking for its finest people and establishments. This week I had the chance to catch up with A Screenwriter who’s ideas are unlike any you’ve seen before. Ok so let’s get started!


First things first. Who are you, where do you come from and what do you do?

I am Michael Valentine Everett, I’m from good old South East London; Lewisham.
By day I’m a consumer consultant but by night I write screen plays for films.

Interesting practice. What inspired you to be a Screenwriter?

A lot of things really. Growing up me and my family loved, and still love films and anything with a good story be it anime, games or even books.
I love the whole idea of creating something from nothing. Starting with blank pages and filling them out and saying yeah, I did that.
And having people watch your creation and actually laugh, it’s a great feeling.

I will accept you 100% just don’t come down on me when I fail you by accident or my flaws show, because I will always accept you.

It sounds like you’ve been inspired by quite a variety of things. Do you have certain specific influences?

Definitely, Christopher Nolans films just… Mate. You watch them on the big screen and leave knowing that was money well spent… It was a great journey. Even if you don’t understand the whole story *cough* interstellar and inception.
Also certain anime like One Piece, about this any guy who sets out to become great, start an adventure, make new friends and build strong bonds. You find yourself caring for the characters, even tho you know they don’t exist!

Tell us about your current projects?

I am currently working on two very different films. One is Deep Dive; a story about a young man and his monkey who set out to get a crew, become a great pirate, and find his mum who left him and his dad when he was a child. Equipped with a mysterious sword, the Crimson Hummingbird and eventually obtaining the ship; the Soaring Albatross, he gets caught up in all kinds of adventures.

 Don’t hold onto things that let you down.

The second, is a smart scale piece about a typical average guy meets girl scenario. However he one day realises he has the ability to rewind time by a certain amount. He ends up using this ability to make this relationship “perfect” redoing any mistakes and re-living every moment to make it “perfect”…. Until…. Lol

I get the feeling that there lies an overall moral somewhere. Do you have a certain message with your projects? If so, how does it reflect who you are?

Yes! With the second one, the message for that is that flaws, failures and imperfections are needed in our lives. They help mound and shape us into who we are. Our greatest lessons happen after our greatest failures and mistakes. And I personally believe we are all flawed in some way, but it’s all about accept people as they are, flaws and all, and not expecting perfection; especially in relationships. I have the attitude of “I will accept you 100% just don’t come down on me when I fail you by accident or my flaws show, because I will always accept you.”

Everyone is supporting each other but I do feel that there are many wonderful ideas that aren’t given a chance to shine.

And for Deep Dive it’s simple, just enjoy your life. Don’t take it too seriously, we’re only here for what, 70+ years? Try to spend as much of that as you can enjoying. Don’t hold onto things that let you down.

What’s your thoughts on the industry in London? Do you feel that creativity is represented well here?

I feel it’s growing, plenty of film festivals, even the online community is thriving. Everyone is supporting each other but I do feel that there are many wonderful ideas that aren’t given a chance to shine. Plenty of original and exciting material that just needs a chance to get out there.
The small indie projects need more limelight.

What’s next for Michael Everett?

Next? Next we have Deep Dive 3, the last install enemy of the series. Most films you write, expecting it to be the only one, but with Deep Dive we always had a 3 part in mind.
Collaborations with my brothers, and maybe even other screenwriters out there! Definitely try my hand at entering film festivals! And reaching out to find others in London on the same creative wave!

Thank you Michael!

To Connect with Michael simply click here!

 

Inside London’s Finest Bar

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London – the finest city in all of England. Home to diverse culture, tourist sights and food… – lot’s of food. However if there’s one place that trumps any other, it’s POLO BAR!

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Don’t worry, the bear doesn’t bite… too much. He was kind enough to leave his last victim’s hat!

Situated just outside of Liverpool street station, this unique and fantastic place offers the best food you can think of. Oh and did I mention that it’s 24hrs? Although it’s called a bar – POLO is more like a hybrid between ones favourite british cafe (on the ground floor) and then a bar (on the 1st floor). My first encounter was early last year (that’s January 2015 to be precise) when a friend and I fancied a good old fashioned full english breakfast. The staff were lovely, and led us to our seats to take our order. Even before the food came, they already had things prepared. Metro newspapers and magazines hung by the sides to read while waiting for the grub, and the fascinating decorum kept us starry eyed for some time.
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Long story short – the food is to die for! I’ve tried many full English breakfasts in my time – however this by far trumps all the others (and at a neat price too). The food is cooked at just the right level, along with generous portions to boot. So far, I’ve tried the full english, burgers and chips, and apple crumble with ice-cream.

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The staff pass by, just enough to say hi – without the constant pestering we’re used to from certain chains. It’s obvious that the minds behind POLO BAR know how to please their customers, and they do it flawlessly. Since then I have been back as many times as I can – bringing friends who visit to what I consider London’s best Bar/Cafe. 5 Stars go to this amazing place to eat. Long live POLO 24 Bar!

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For the official website of POLO24BAR, click this link!

 

Ricky Baxter is a writer and Author, based in London England.

Keys to the city

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Teriy Keys – also known as Smurfie Syco is a man of many talents. Not only was he signed to Dizzee rascal, under Dirty Stank records – he also is the CEO of London’s most ambitious entertainment company: R.O.A.D Entertainment. In a nutshell, R.O.A.D entertainment specialises in music, television, publishing and beyond. It also provides a training program for young people, interested in entertainment.

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Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to Teriy’s christmas launch party – where a host of notable faces were seen. Of course I leapt at the chance to see what one of the members of dirty stank had to offer.

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Blast from the past. Picture taken in 2013. Teriy Keys, Dizzee, Musical D, D Double E (Wikipedia)

Just before turning up to the launch event, I wondered how the event would look, and what kind of people would be there. What sort of person is Teriy keys anyway? Naturally I was intrigued by someone who is affiliated with one of London’s greatest artists, and wondered what exactly is his mission and purpose? It’s clear by his many skills and expertise, Teriy is not just a producer or random Dj, but instead something far greater. For someone to even think of establishing their own entertainment company, that someone would have to be an entrepreneur.

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Teriy speaking at the industry takeover event.

So I entered the R.O.A.D Entertainment building and took no time mingling with the many attendees that came along. There were many important figures during the night – ranging from: speakers, youth workers to photographers and actors. However of all the people I came across, there was one who stood out the most. A  motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur named: Hannah oyewole.

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Teriy Keys and Hannah Oyewole at the young Ladies club.To connect with Hannah, visit her website at: www.hannahoyewole.com 

Hannah among many other entrepreneurs filled the evening with their presence. This speaks volumes to Teriy Key’s company and the kind of individuals he works with. This event gave a chance for true professionals to connect and network – with R.O.A.D Entertainment setting the stage.

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Keys speaking at international youth day.

Midway through the launch event, the man of the hour showed up and spoke a little about R.O.A.D Entertainment. By the end, it was made clear what his company is about, and what makes it so important for Londoners. Not only does R.O.A.D Entertainment cater to industry professionals, it also works with those in the community. The next best thing to happen to London is here.

Ricky Baxter

Author and blogger

To connect with Teriy Keys and R.O.A.D Entertainment, simply follow this link!