• T. D. Jester, Jr.

    What to say? I'm a 23 year old dreamer with his head in the clouds and his heart in his hands. I love to write!

    I will be relocating to Japan in march and will likely change this description to mirror thus. Thank you for visiting, and though the information is scarce at the moment, it'll roll in as I start in on my adventure to the Land of the Rising Sun!

Castles, and Samurai, and Lakes OH MY!

When I was just a boy growing up in the forests of Washington, I used to make believe I was fighting evil wizards and evil knights (by mutilating my mother’s rhododendron bush and hunting the ever sly slugs of the Pacific Northwest).

Somewhere along the lines make believe blurred with reality. I find myself moving to Matsue City, Shiname-ken, Japan.

I get to wake up to this!

Matsue Castle (松江城, Matsue-jō?) is a feudal castle in Matsue in Shimane Prefecture, Japan. Nicknamed the “black castle” or “plover castle”, it is one of the few remaining medieval castles in Japan – at least of the few remaining in their original wooden form, and not a modern reconstruction in concrete.

Of the 12 castles remaining in Japan, this is the only one remaining in the Sanin region. This castle is the second largest, the third tallest (30m) and the sixth oldest amongst castles. It was built over a period of 5 years by the daimyo of the Izumo region, Yoshiharu Horio, and was completed in 1622.

After reigns of Tadaharu Horio and Tadataka Kyogoku, Naomasa Matsudaira, a grandson of Ieyasu Tokugawa, became Lord of the castle, after being transferred from Matsumoto in Shinshu province, and thus began a reign that lasted 10 generations of the Matsudaira clan over a period of 234 years.

In 1875, all of the buildings within the castle were destroyed, with the exception of the castle tower itself, which was allowed to remain due to pressure from interest groups. The castle underwent a complete reconstruction between 1950 and 1955.

The castle is a complex structure, built in a watchtower style, that appears to be five stories from the outside, but has in fact six levels inside. Most of the walls of the castle are painted black, it is a strong structure, built to withstand warfare while at the same time it is majestic and solemn, reminiscent of the Momoyama style.

As if that wasn’t good enough to wake up to, check out what I go to sleep with!

Lake Shinji (宍道湖, Shinji-ko) is a lake in the northeast area of the Shimane prefecture in Japan. The lake is the seventh largest in Japan, with a circumference of 48 km. It is enclosed by the Shimane peninsula (Shimane-hanto) to the north, and the Izumo and Matsue plains to the west and east respectively.

As if these wild flights of fancy weren’t enough, I should be treated (some time in April) to the Samurai Parade in Matsue City where around 200 fully armored warriors parade down the street!

But I know there are also some others out there who would like some specifics on where I’ll be. Allow me to enlighten you!

Matsue has an estimated population of about 200,000 people. It’s sister cities are Dublin, Ireland and New Orleans, Louisiana (And Des Moines, Iowa).

Matsue City wraps itself around the eastern end of the lake and is split by a river, which will make it nice to navigate as I will be driving in Japan! It doesn’t seem too intimidating. Even though the city is 200,000 it’s very spread out and suburban styled.

Being surrounded by all this wonderful and natural beauty, comprised of a rich history (Particularly in one of the most fascinating eras to me in the Tokugawa rule) and many wonderful sight-seeing opportunities, I’m sure I’ll have many wonderful things to share with everyone!

I leave this post to the real experts to tell you all about Matsue. The owners of these videos have removed the embed option so please click the link on the video screen that says “Watch on Youtube” it is very much worth the effort!

Matsue Castle

Lake Shinji Hot Springs

Some Amazing Gardens

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A Writer of Sorts…

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

I’m really glad I found this quote. C.S. Lewis was such a brilliant mind, and never just about any one thing. It’s like a light bulb suddenly illuminated in my mind and showed me all the cobwebs of my idle thinking. The major story-killer for me has always been originality. There was always that unnerving question, “Is this even unique? How can I make this my own?” I quite believe the fault was in myself.

I love the fantasy genre. I like the idea there is a place outside of what is familiar to me, where the rules established here to a lesser degree hold no weight.

First off, I by no rights am religious, but rather a man of faith. I do believe that, for me anyways, fantasy has been that one element of understanding that man can perceive a world outside the one he inhabits. Peter gave us a glimpse of heaven as he saw it. Indeed, the happily ever after is an allegory to the heavenly times that await us. Maybe this is my draw to fantasy, where good can conquer evil without the red tape of being morally grey (though that seems to be the rise in popularity lately).

Robert. E. Howard is a great example of someone who found his originality. He was a rough writer from Texas who wrote elaborately violent stories that were constantly rejected from major publications except for one. From here he began to weave the life of a rogue, a king, a conquer, a destroyer, and a barbarian–Conan. But even more interesting than the pseudo-real world fantasy was how Conan came to be.

Howard was convinced the world was out to get him and, like the strange man he was, boarded up his house. Eventually he had hallucinations of a raven-haired barbarian standing over him with a battle-axe threatening to kill him if he did not write these stories (thankfully, I have yet to encounter this type of motivation).

So here I am, sitting on my bed, relaying these thoughts as I plan for many projects that need sorting. I will lovingly look at them one by one and shun the thoughts of originality, but instead, bring to my stories that element of truth. Thank you Mr. Lewis!

I bid everyone a great day/afternoon and may the ink of your pens never run dry.

Kanjiru…

Winter is cold. But there is a bit of calm in the snow. It’s the death of fading life with the later hope of revitalized youth.

Maybe that’s how I feel right now. I see my time here in the states coming to the end. Spring is the promise of a new life for me in Japan. But as it stands, right now I feel weak. It’s hard trying to verbalize what I have been feeling, but I’m made all to aware of it when people say something to the effect of, “I don’t know what I’m going to do when you leave.” My casual humor would just reply, “You do realize there was never anything to do even when I was here?” But that’s just my defenses.

In truth. I am scared.

Not the silly horror movie type of scared that leads people to a most certain, and comically unavoidable demise, but a real fear of uncertainty. My heart is resolute that my feet are carrying me where the rest of me wills it. I am content that in this day and age, global communications is so much more efficient and convenient than 10 years previous. But even so, like the great heroes who left the farm in search of adventure, there is a bit of a hole inside, only temporarily filled by the promise of return.

So here I am, Terry Jester, Jr., wandering the shire and treading the same paths I’ve always traversed; but feeling the age and weight of time crawling to an end.

I am thankful for the Facebook group of others that are in the same position as me waiting to move to Japan. When I think about the lives I’ve met, I find myself happy that I have not lost anything, but have much rather gained a whole new extended family. Thank you to every wonderful person I have met, and will meet in person.

In other news. I watched The Last Samurai (One of my favorite movies of all time). Every time I watch this movie I am moved, whether by the acting, the cinematography, or the story. This last time, I came to the realization–

Ken Watanabe is a masterful actor. There is so much power and compassion in the subtleties of his acting, I found myself forgetting he wasn’t Katsumoto. Perhaps his character is a bit romanticized, like much of the movie, but in truth I do feel I have been given a glimpse into the life of Saigo Takamori and the inspiration of his life to restore the Emperor to the center of power in Japan.

The Things That Matter Most

Self-introductions are one of those awkward moments for me. Particularly when I don’t prompt them but others prompt them from me. For instance, for my interview for my job with Interac, I was to pretend in front of a camera I were meeting my Japanese co-workers for the first time and introducing myself. This would seem like a simple exercise, and truth be told, with my limited Japanese it was!
But philosophically speaking, I’m not so sure I can tell you “about me”. I can give the simple demographics that I am 23 and moving to Japan in March, but that’s not really anything more than most people in my situation couldn’t say. I find the best way to introduce myself is to introduce the things that matter most.
I hope you enjoyed the video and I’m sure you are wondering…what exactly is it that matters most in that? I love Japan and the two and a half months I was there. That video was nothing more than a quick jaunt around a park and some footage from the eikaiwa I helped work at. It’s the memories that matter most, not just Japan, and not just things I’ve done, but the people and the lives I’ve been so priveleged to be apart of. These are experiences unique to me that I’m afraid even after sharing doesn’t give you that cosmic revelation on who I am.
But I am Terry Jester–soon to be–テリー せんせい! Which says “Terii Sensei”. Yep I am relocating to Japan in March to teach English. I’ve no idea how long I’ll be there. I know I’m obligated to stay a year, but I honestly see myself there far longer.
This isn’t really the most probing of introductions. But this blog will hopefully give you a gateway and albeit a vague perspective on my time in Japan. If you find you really enjoy the information here, but it isn’t enough, that’s good. That’s your heart telling your brain you need to go and experience it yourself.
Have a wonderful day/night!