Will J. J.

Day-to-day musings and occasional short stories for your delight.


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Car Window

Car Window

 

Hey guys,

 

Today I wanted to share a poem I’ve been working on. I had a thought recently about the very essence of riding in a car, and how much that has changed for me since I was a little boy. This poem is a translation of that thought’s conclusion. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

 

Car Window

 

Gazing through to the world beyond,

The glass window, ever beside you,

Cruising down the winding asphalt,

Hills and plains rolling gently past.

 

Shifting focus to sights nearby,

A patch of grass, by the roadside,

A branching tree, atop the green.

At last, you draw them into view,

Out of the constant blur of speed,

Reaching out to them with your eyes,

A lone moment of clarity,

Before they’re gone, swept behind you.

 

Your gaze drifts into the distance,

Houses clustered, etching the bluffs,

Faraway mountains, standing tall,

Massive cities, sprawling and bright.

Passing slowly, distant landmarks,

As if you were barely moving.

 

Riding up familiar roadways,

Fingers tracing along the glass,

On the cold, wintry weather days.

Every bump and turn, routine,

The daily trip you know so well.

New, unknown routes still excite you,

Concrete webbed for thousands of miles,

Skirting peaks and dodging water.

 

Years pass, your position changes,

Passenger to watchful driver,

Your gaze forward, the road ahead,

Fewer moments to peer aside,

Allowing your mind to wander,

And take in the beautiful view.

 

But when you do, so seldom now,

You recall that soothing feeling,

The world passing, both fast and slow.


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Your Name – Kimi No Na Wa.

your-name-movie-poster

You guys might not know this about me, but I love movies. They are, hands down, my favorite form of media. A couple of weeks ago, I was on a flight back from New York City with Emily, and I found a Japanese movie called Your Name (also known as Kimi No Na Wa.) on the in-flight screen on the seat in front of me. The title immediately rang a bell because I’m a fan of anime and had heard that this one was insanely popular in Japan, breaking all kinds of box office records, and I had seen other films by the director, Makoto Shinkai.

 

I started the movie, expecting to watch it casually, because, let’s be honest, you don’t usually watch a movie on a plane expecting to be the most engaged. I was dead wrong. From the very first scene, I was sucked right in, and I was just praying the flight wouldn’t end before I finished the movie. At one point, I was actually crying and clutching the seat in front of me with both hands. It was an intense experience, an incredible movie, and it finished just before we landed. What I didn’t realize is that it won’t be released in the U.S. until April 7th, so no one I know has seen it yet. It has been KILLING me not having anyone to talk about this movie with, because it’s downright amazing.

 

Your Name is a fantasy, drama, romance story about two high schoolers in Japan who begin waking up in each other’s bodies at random, and the two must adapt their lives around each other while building an unlikely connection. The two are bound by fate, but kept apart by more than just distance. The premise might sound silly or overly sentimental, but instead, the result is genius. I don’t dare divulge more of the plot, because the film reveals itself in such beautiful ways that it would be a crime to spoil. What I can say is that the characters are equal parts hilarious and authentic, the animation is astonishing, and the story is heartbreaking, thrilling, and satisfying. Even saying that, though, doesn’t really capture the essence of what makes it great. This is so much more than just a romance, and it would be a shame to try and cram it into that category alone. 

 

Your Name is a special movie. It’s ambitious, original, honest, and vivid. This movie tapped into so many of the themes I cherish most, including love, time, and dreams. It explored love in such a pure yet genuine state that I have never seen portrayed nearly so well. Quite frankly, this movie reminded me of some of my deepest beliefs that I hadn’t really thought about in ages.

 

Your Name is my new favorite movie, and I haven’t had a new favorite movie in over a decade. I take favorites very seriously. Rest assured, when it comes to the U.S. on April 7th, I will be the first in line to see it again. I recommend you check it out too 🙂


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Japan

Japan

Day 3639

gates

The Thousand Torii Gates in Kyoto

Last week, my best friend returned from Japan, and it brought me back to the many adventures we had when I visited him in September, adventures that I have yet to share with you. I think it’s high time I told you guys about Japan. 

For the past year, my best friend Fezz was in Japan, teaching English. In early September, I finally carved out enough time and money to go see him, and we had an incredible week traveling the country. Here are my thoughts:

Japan is magnificent. I had never before been overseas, nor had I ever spent more than a few hours in another country. Before I left, I did a ton of research on what to expect from Japan, but all the google searches in the world won’t tell you as much as five minutes on a Tokyo street corner. Traveling somewhere so entirely different from your normal life shows you just as much about your own culture as it does about the one you’re visiting. Every little thing was incredible to me, because it was all so different from what I experience on a daily basis. Several times, I found myself wondering, why don’t we do it that way? Case in point:

Trains are amazing. Japan has one of the most advanced public transit systems in the world, and it’s all based on trains. Tokyo is a city with more than 13 million people, and the vast majority of them use trains to get everywhere. Their trains go everywhere, and they’re always on time. If, for some reason, a train is late, the rail company will issue every passenger a note for work apologizing for the tardiness. That’s how absurdly dependable their trains are. What’s more, they’ve got all sorts of trains, subways, elevated, bullet trains, and they go just about everywhere. While I was there, Fezz and I almost exclusively used trains to get around, and I was continually amazed.

kyoto

Overlooking Kyoto

Tokyo and Kyoto show two very different sides of Japan. The first thing Fezz told me when I found him in the airport was, “Remember this moment, because you’ll be surrounded by thousands of people for the rest of this trip.” He was absolutely right. Tokyo is a massive, sprawling city filled with so many people. Every time we were in a train station, it felt like 100 thousand people were flying by me. On every street corner, thousands rushing by. There are blaring, electronic ads everywhere. The pace of Tokyo is dizzying. Every single building is 5-20 stories high, and every inch of space is carefully planned.

monkey

Feeding monkeys in Kyoto 😀

Kyoto, on the other hand, is a city of 1.5 million, and it is much more relaxed. In Kyoto, there is a sense of warm friendliness and less of the hustle and bustle that I found in Tokyo. I love Kyoto, and a big part of that is because there is an incredible balance between industrial, natural, modern, and classic there. The city is huge, but it’s located in a valley, surrounded on all sides by mountains. The ocean of buildings melts seamlessly into the lush, green mountainside, with colorful temples peppered throughout. It’s truly a beautiful city, and I felt genuinely welcomed there.

akihabara

Akihabara, Tokyo

Everything in Japan, except for the people, is massive. I’m serious. We went to Akihabara, the shopping district in Tokyo, my first day there, and it feels endless. Roads full of 5-10 story shops. We went into a 6 story, SEGA arcade, and when we left, there was ANOTHER 6 story, SEGA arcade right across the street. We visited the Skytree mall in the heart of Tokyo, and after shopping and wandering through its shops for hours, we never found the end of it. I’m convinced that Japanese malls just don’t have ends. It’s like an optical illusion.

Japan has amazing history. We visited the Tokyo National Museum and countless shrines throughout Tokyo and Kyoto while I was there. Kyoto, even older than Tokyo, has shrines and temples all over the city. Something that struck me when I arrived is that, as an American, I think of national history as covering the last ~200 years, but that’s only because the United States is relatively new. Japan has been around for millennia. Let that soak in for a second. At the Tokyo National Museum, Fezz and I saw swords nearly a thousand years old, masks used in ancient plays, and maps scribed so long ago, the years only had 3 digits. Japan’s history is rich, and I found it intensely fascinating.

signs

There is nothing like spending time with your best friend. A good portion of my time in Japan was spent goofing off, watching terrible John Cena memes, playing Super Smash Bros Project: M, and talking life with Fezz. Really, I would have traveled anywhere to see him, and the fact that we got to explore Japan was just a bonus. It’s good to have you back Fezz! 🙂