Social Media and Lifestyle

Author: Tomoya S.
Editor: Karen W. & Aika M.
Translator: Trang D.
Original Language: Japanese

Hello everyone. I would like to take this chance to talk about social media, something that we all use on a very frequent basis. One day when I was wandering around the school, I noticed that a lot of people were walking around with their cell phones in their hands without taking their eyes off them. From that experience, for this article, I decided to write about how people usually use social media.

First, let’s talk about “What are the purposes of using social media in Japan?”

Social media has been evolving rapidly, and there are now social media sites for all fields and types. The majority of social media users in Japan are in their 20s, teens, and 30s, indicating that many young people have been using social media. Speaking of their purpose of using social media, we find out that almost 80% of the respondents use it to communicate with their friends. Besides that, some of the main reasons mentioned were to kill time, to find people with similar interests, and to get updated as quickly as possible in fear of any emergency or disaster. I think that young people now are very tech-savvy, so using social media is not challenging to them at all.

The next question is: “What applications or social media sites do you use?”. After doing a survey among several people living in Japan, we have got the rankings as follows:

No. 1: Line  
No. 2: Twitter 
No. 3: Facebook 
No. 4: Instagram 
No. 5: Tik Tok 
No. 6: Pinterest 
No. 7: Snapchat 
No. 8: Others

As you can see, Line ranked first. As I mentioned earlier, the reason for this is that many people use it to communicate with their friends. As for the other applications, Twitter came in second, Facebook third, and Instagram fourth. What we can summarize from this is there are several platforms where you can post photos, videos and leave comments. Other than that, many people used them to look for sources of entertainment. For example, people who see someone’s photo and think “I want to go there” or “I want to share this moment and feeling” are all using the apps. Also, those who want to make friends with people from overseas tend to use Snapchat. To be more specific, in our school, TIU, there are not only several international students whose goal is to learn Japanese but there are also many of those who want to make friends with people from different countries. And indeed, the fastest and most common way to make friends is to exchange social media accounts and start conversations using those platforms.

Quotation source : <SNS fact-finding> Which app are you using? Estimated most used SNS and traffic

Finally, let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of using social media. The first advantage is that we can promptly get the information that we need. And the most convenient thing is the fact that we can share information with each other in a flash, from anywhere, at any time. To be more specific, not only can we send out information, advertise, but we can also share our hobbies and interests.

However, we cannot overlook the disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that there is so much information being posted on social media, and it is really difficult to know which one is true and which one is false. In addition, even if you want to make friends online, there are many concerns over whether your privacy is protected and whether the other person does exist.

<What is social media? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Easy-to-understand explanation and specific examples>

Reading until here, what are your thoughts on social media? I think social media definitely has a lot of advantages, but along with that, many disadvantages. Finding a balance and keeping your social media usage at a moderate level are very important. I hope this article somewhat changed your opinion, and helped you reflect on your social media usage!

Autumn stimulates appetite

Author: Karen W.
Editor: Aika M.
Translator: Juri A.
Original Language: Japanese

Hello everyone. The hot summer is over and now it is more comfortable for some people since it gets cooler. Autumn indicates the period of three months between September and November. Also, this period of time are called “食欲の秋(Shokuyoku-no-aki)” in Japan, which means “Autumn stimulates appetite”. During this period, we consciously enjoy our daily life more than we usually do.

Thus, we are going to introduce this Japanese cultural belief in this article following the last article about “Otsukimi”.

1. Why does Autumn stimulate our appetite?

First off, here are two explanations for the reasons why we call it as  “食欲の秋”(Shokuyoku-no-aki).

Firstly, Autumn is usually the season that makes the temperature go down and the daylight hours get shorter in comparison to Summer. This makes the human body tend to promote fat-burning and require more energy. People eat food to absorb energy and this circulation makes us hungry.
Secondly, we have a wide variety of food in Japan. We are able to obtain more nourishing foods since Autumn is the best season to harvest. Such food contain necessary nourishments for the shattered body due to the change of the seasons, such as starchineness, vitamins and fiber.

These nourishments are also a necessity for us to go through the nippy winter. Plenty of nutritious foods are harvested in Autumn. This is how Autumn in Japan became to be called “食欲の秋(Shokuyoku-no-aki)”. In order to provide the valuable information for you to enjoy the blessing of nature in this season well, next chapter introduces “秋の味覚(Aki-no-mikaku)”, which means the taste of Autumn.

2.Taste of Autumn

Autumn is the best season to harvest these following foods: skipjack tuna, salmon and mackerel pike from the sea. Chestnut, persimmon, pear, purple, mushrooms and potatoes from the mountains are also delicious at this time of year. Moreover, the picking season for root crops comes in Autumn. In addition, rice, which is a pillar of Japanese food, is ripe for the taking as well and the new rice is getting lined up in the store shelves. 

炊き込みご飯(Takikomi-gohan)

I recommend “炊き込みご飯(Takikomi-gohan)”, which goes well with sea foods and mountain foods. 炊き込みご飯(Takikomi-Gohan) can be boiled with Japanese condiments that would not offset the taste of ingredients. Boiled rice with mushrooms fuel our appetite. Also, you can enjoy boiled rice with fish.

Some people might have concerns about gaining weight as we have ample tasty meals like this. If that describes you, I suggest having a lesser amount of food for one bite and to bite slowly. This should be the best way to taste the blessings of the Autumn.

Nowadays, we see Autumn food more in convenience stores. Now it might be easier to enjoy Autumn as we do in Japan, have a great time by enjoying the Autumn.

Sources:
食欲の秋に食欲が増す理由!その由来や秋に食べたい食べ物、食べすぎの対策もご紹介|コラム|鰹節・だし専門店 通販のことならにんべんネットショップ (ninben.co.jp)

Balancing your University Life

Writer: Mika A.
Editor: Trang D.

University life can be exhausting. We, students, tend to always crave adventures and it seems like 24 hours a day is not enough for us. We sometimes feel like it is almost impossible to balance every aspect of a student’s life. I, myself, am also struggling to balance my personal, social, and academic life. I can hardly give you any advice. However, what I can do is share with you a small research I did and stories of some of the excellent students in TIU who have been succeeding in balancing almost all of the aspects of a university student. If you’re interested, please continue reading!

Although joining extracurricular might seem stressful to some students, research has shown that joining extracurricular activities improves work-life balance and even academic performance. It is also said that these activities develop stronger relationships and a positive impact on self well-being and allow proactive learning (King, McQuarrie, and Brigham, 2020). Furthermore, the research also explored how extracurricular activities would improve cross-cultural awareness, especially in a diverse environment. It is clear that joining some extracurricular activities would generally improve the well-being of a student. The research also asked about the reasons why the students participated in extracurricular activities. The result pointed out that such participation is students’ strategy for coping with their personal stress and motivation, and creates a sense of belonging in their university and overall satisfaction with their university life (King, McQuarrie, and Brigham, 2020). Aside from the research, Gill (2019) gave tips on the 4 ways to balance academics and extracurricular activities. It is suggested that one’s first and foremost priority should be Academics. The second tip is developing a timetable, since having extracurricular activities might cause scheduling conflicts during finals. Another tip the writer suggested is being picky about extracurricular activities. Joining clubs is fun and in case you might be interested in at least three clubs, remember that you still have other things to do. Choose what truly interests you and benefits your personal growth. Lastly, Gill emphasized on taking breaks. While having fun with extracurricular activities and getting A’s being your personal goal, overdoing it will definitely exhaust you. You could be drained and have a hard time recharging. 

Aside from the research above, I also interviewed some fellow TIU students about their ways of managing schedules and maximizing life as a university student. I asked Vicky, Hai, and Annie who are all currently in their third year, from Vietnam and major in Business and Economics. 

What are your extracurricular activity involvements and also part-time jobs (if you have one)?

Vicky: I am currently part of the Mellow Dolphin Club since 2019, a Jazz Orchestra band and I play piano in it. Before the pandemic, we used to perform every month. I am also currently working at a chain restaurant. 

Vicky

Hai: I am part of TIU Model United Nations, a varsity club in our university. We hold MUN conferences and also participate in national conferences. I am also participating in TEDxTIU, another varsity club that organizes TEDx events. Concurrently, I am working as a university intern at English Plaza where we create an environment for students to relax, make friends and grow while using English. 

Annie: I worked at Tomonokai, Co. Ltd in Tokyo Japan as an International Senior Buddy where I help synthesize cultural knowledge and prepare slides about 30 countries’ traditions for over 1000 students. I am also a virtual local buddy in ABROADER, co-founder and organizer in BETTO English Club and EV Trust Program Coordinator. At the same time, I also work part-time in Daito Kentaku Partners as a customer service staff and interpreter. 

Why did you join extracurricular activities or multiple clubs?

Vicky: For Mellow Dolphin, I joined out of curiosity. During the orientation, they were very welcoming to people and they also accept E-track students, which I found really interesting. Initially, I only knew the basics of the piano, then I was able to gradually play better and better thanks to my “senpais.”  Also, I find it a great opportunity since I never had a chance to perform on stage before. For my part-time job, it helps me financially and also gives me a chance to practice my Japanese skills. 

Hai

Hai: Essentially, I like things that I am already familiar with and staying in my comfort zone, which sometimes cause setbacks in self-development. I used to be bad at self-evaluating so I decided to go out there, join things I am really interested in. I joined TIU MUN since I am interested in public speaking and debate. As for the English Plaza, I joined out of a friend’s recommendation that I would have a good learning experience there. As for TEDxTIU, I joined because of my interest in TED talks and finance. 

Annie: I joined extracurricular activities because it is a good learning opportunity that allows me to share my experience with other people. I also get to teach English while at the same time do volunteer work. For my part-time job, I get to experience the environment of a large corporation which will be beneficial for me in my future career. 

How do you balance your university life?

Vicky: I do not have specific plans and I am very flexible though it may seem hectic. I always put academics as my top priority especially during the pre-exam period, and I always have at least 3 days off for studying and resting as well. 

Hai: In reality, I do believe that you have to sacrifice something among academics, personal, and social lives. I think we just need to be good at rotating these three aspects and learn to say “no” especially when we are feeling tired or drained. Always take time to prioritize our physical and mental health and also hobbies. I do believe rest is important as a refreshment for anyone. To me, rest is when I catch up with my friends, watch movies, listen to music, and read novels. 

Annie: For me, I follow the scientific way of having adequate sleep every day. It is important for me to be able to perform all of the important aspects of life at their maximum. I also set a fixed date devoting to specific extracurricular activities, studies, and other jobs. Wednesdays are solely for extracurricular activities, and the rest of the week will be allocated to other activities I am involved in. 

Annie

From the interview, I realized that these people try to keep a balance between work and rest, which was also emphasized in the research. I always thought that such excellent students would sacrifice rest in order to manage their schedule wisely. But it seems that including “rest” as part of their priorities is vital. Humans cannot work non-stop and need to constantly recharge to function well. Hopefully, after reading this article, you were able to pick up some tips that can be useful. If you’re not yet a part of any club but interested to join, you can check out the school’s website or timesoftiu.com for more information.

Sources:

Gill, J. (December 16, 2019). 4 Ways to Balance Academics and Extracurricular Activities. Forté. Retrieved from: http://business360.fortefoundation.org/4-ways-to-balance-academics-and-extracurricular-activities-2/

King, A. E., Fiona A. E. M. & Brigham, S. M. (2020). Exploring the Relationship Between Student Success and Participation in Extracurricular Activities. SCHOLE: A Journal of Leisure Studies and Recreation Education 36, 1-2, 42–58. https://doi.org/10.1080/1937156x.2020.1760751

An Interview with Vincent Yegon

Writer: Mika A.
Editor: Trang D.

100th Kanto Student Athletics School Championships
(located in Gion Stadium)
Men’s Second Division Best Player Award
10000m Run Track : First Place
5000m Run Track   : First Place


You may be wondering who owns such impressive records. These running records belong to Vincent Yegon, a 3rd-year Japanese-track student at TIU, who was recently awarded MVP (most valuable player) in the 97th Tokyo Hakone Round-Trip University Ekiden Race. In this race, within 1 hour, 5 minutes, and 49 seconds, he was able to pass 14 runners. 

On July 21, 2021, the Campus Globalization team met and interviewed Vincent Yegon at Sakado Campus, Training Center for all kinds of sports in TIU, to get to know more about him and his running experience. 

Vincent is a Kenyan student-athlete who came to TIU to fulfill his dream of studying in Japan and join the TIU (running/track) varsity team. However, Vincent did not start out as a professional runner, but as a junior high school student with a passion for running and training himself physically. Not long after he started, his talent was “discovered” and he was told that he had the potential to compete in running races as a professional. He used to have doubts about his ability and lack confidence in his skills. Turning from a normal kid who considered running as a mere hobby, to running as a professional athlete is definitely not an easy thing to do. However, intimidating as the new path might be, Vincent did not back down and restlessly trained himself for 1-2 years, before being recruited by TIU. This opened up a new future that Vincent never imagined.

Vincent usually practices with “80%” and saves “20%” of his energy for the competition day. This may sound somewhat unconventional, and you may also be wondering why he does not give his all during training. Vincent explains that this is his own strategy to keep himself from burning out, in other words, to any sports player, it is important to always leave some energy for the competition day or else one may get drained easily.

Running is not just about physical training, it also helped Vincent nurture several qualities and crucial soft skills. After each race, his perseverance and resilience are also challenged. It urged him to set a high bar for himself and to have more confidence in himself. 

During training or while running, Vincent listens to Kenyan music as it reduces tension and calms him even during stressful competition. Living in a foreign country – in an international environment – enables Vincent to be more independent and proactive. It also means that he does not get to speak his own language or listen to it very often. Therefore, what actually soothes Vincent most is none other than Kenyan music. Isn’t it healing to hear and get absorbed in the language that followed you since you were born, that your loved ones use to express how proud they are of you? I believe Vincent is very proud and thankful for his home country, the place that raised him to be who he is now–strong and humble.

Furthermore, we also asked how he balances his academic life and sports. He said, “I go by priorities and know what is important. Running is my number one priority. Prioritizing it is important because I believe I cannot continue running forever, there is a limit to it.” However, that does not mean he sacrifices his academics for running. He finds a way to manage his time wisely, and in the midst of the hectic schedule of training, he always saves time for classes and self-reflection.

We also asked about his first impression of Japan. Similar to all other students studying abroad in Japan, he recalled, “Everything from the culture, the language, and the people were totally new and so it was intimidating”. It was no doubt very challenging since he had to adapt and start everything from scratch. The journey was tough, but Vincent has been working hard every day to pursue his dream. 

To end our very inspiring interview, Vincent sent some of his advice to people having a passion for sports, encouraging them to just go for it, follow what their hearts say. Indeed, following this path does not guarantee success, but at least you never need to look down or doubt yourself as you are brave enough to give it a try. 

Moon-viewing Festival

Author: Karen W.
Editor: Aika M.
Translator: Theo F.
Original Language: Japanese

At the advent of Autumn in Japan, several cultural themes emerge and affect different aspects of life – be it literature, sports, or even cuisine. Amongst which, today we would like to write about Tsukimi, or the Moon-viewing festival in English. Throughout history, the moon has always been involved with Japanese cultural practices. Let’s learn more about Tsukimi!

1. What is Moon-viewing?

Moon-viewing is an autumn tradition where friends and family gather and appreciate the beauty of the celestial body. On Tsukimi nights, it is said that the moon can be seen in its brightest and most elegant state. Although, based on the lunar calendar, the festival is also called “the fifteenth night,” Tsukimi usually falls on a different day each year. In 2021, it falls on the 21st of September, a Tuesday.

2. The origin of Tsukimi

Back in the Heian Period of Japan, nobles and aristocrats had the custom of holding banquets under the lunar light. The tradition even spread to peasants later in the Edo Period. Moreover, the Tsukimi tradition coincided with the harvest season and thus became a festival amongst peasants where they show gratitude towards nature and the moon. In combination, these traditions slowly developed into the modern moon-viewing festival.

3. Moon-viewing Offerings

In reality, Tsukimi is not just a festival where you stare at the moon. Special offerings are made to be thankful towards a successful harvest.

The three main offerings are silver grass, moon-viewing dumplings, and agricultural products. Silver grass is said to protect the harvest and be the symbol for good harvest. Round little Moon-viewing dumplings – modeled based on the moon – are the symbol for gratitude. Agricultural products, mainly sweet potatoes and chestnuts, are usually crops successfully obtained from the season.

Conforming to the festive atmosphere, let’s make some Tsukimi dumplings!

Ingredients for 15 pieces

Dumpling flour 100g *

Room-temperature Water 80ml

Boiling Water (amount as you see fit)

Cold Water (amount as you see fit)

*Dumpling flour : available in supermarkets or 100-yen shops

Instructions

  1. Slowly mix dumpling flour and room-temperature water in a bowl; knead them until they are as hard as earlobes
  2. Divide them into 15 equal pieces and roll them into sphere shapes
  3. Put them into boiling water for 2 minutes
  4. As they float up to the surface, wait for another 3 minutes and drain the hot water afterwards
  5. Dip them into cold water
  6. Drain all the water
  7. Done!

*Sprinkle some red beans or soybean flour for an even better taste!

As you can see, Tsukimi dumplings are pretty easy to make. We hope you’ll get creative and enjoy your once-a-year Moon-viewing festival!

Slice of Life Writing Contest

Written by: Saki Arimoto
Editor: Trang Do

Every semester, the English Plaza Library Team organizes a Writing Contest on a timely theme where students can showcase their talents in writing and have their pieces read by other students. To know more about the contest, I invited one of the organizers and also an intern at EP Library, Avanthi, for an interview.

The Writing Contest has been a semester tradition for the EP Library team. They accept works in any style from students submitting anonymously. After the submission period, the team publishes all accepted pieces on their website so that the whole TIU community can enjoy and vote for the piece they like the most. Finally, the work that has the most votes would be hailed as the winning piece of the semester. As a consolation prize to all participants, all works are published as a physical book available in the Library so everyone can take a look at entries from previous semesters’ contests.

Last semester, with the Halloween theme, the contest attracted a great number of interesting pieces. This time, the organizers collectively decided to focus on a theme where students can be a bit more open to sharing, especially during this vulnerable period of time. They have named this theme “Slice of Life.” Avanthi, along with the team, thought that this was a topic many students can write about while at the same time, unleashing their creativity. Participants were encouraged to be as expressive as they wanted. 

This event garnered the most entries with a total of 16 impressive submissions. Among these, the most-voted piece of this semester was “Send to today me”, which we are featuring as follows!

If you are interested to see other entries of this semester’s contest, you can find them here. They will also soon be published in the form of a physical book that will be available in the library like previous entries so do not miss out on that!

TIU International Relations Student Association Interview

Interview held: May 19, 2021
Written by Mika Arimoto
Edited by Saki Arimoto

Have you heard about the big news? The Department of E-Track International Relations has announced a newly established student-led circle under the International Relations (IR) Department — TIU International Relations Student Associations or TIUIRSA. The association aims to promote a more cohesive relationship between TIU students and their beloved professors from the IR Faculty Department. 

To know more about TIUIRSA, I interviewed the president of the association, Nguyen Thi Thai Hoa, who is a 3rd-year IR major and communication member of TIU Model United Nations (TIUMUN). She was elected as the president of TIUIRSA among the 11 core members of TIUIRSA that set the foundation of the association.

Hoa joined in establishing the circle as she found it “interesting to have an academic-related platform where we can tackle issues related to IR.” She also adds that joining TIUIRSA will be beneficial for her future career.

The circle has a number of activities for its members as listed below.

  1. Reading Group

Led by students, this is where they tackle certain topics and discuss the books they have chosen. These Reading Groups are headed by Chairs who propose their topic to the committee heads of TIUIRSA. Students who are interested to become the Chairs can apply during the beginning of the semester and propose their topics. Once approved, they can start recruiting members of the reading group. 

  1. Skill Workshops 

These workshops are mostly facilitated by TIU professors which focus on important topics to TIU students. Most of these are practical skills essential to International Relations in order to promote deeper understanding of IR-related topics.

  1. Academic Journal 

This is the circle’s main project. Their goal is to publish an online newsletter that will consist of a collection of students’ research papers. This will allow not only the spread of the importance of IR but also, showcasing talents of IR students in writing and research. 

  1. Others 

This semester, the circle organized an online party exclusively for IR freshmen. Through this event, students were able to interact virtually with other freshmen, as well as know the faculty members from the IR Department. Furthermore, they also had a ‘Trivia Night’ where participants’ knowledge was tested. They also plan to have more parties and field trips to widen their knowledge on the field of International Relations in the future.

TIUIRSA definitely has a lot in store for TIU students. But, who can join?

All E-Track students are welcomed! TIUIRSA believes that political issues are relevant to everyone and becoming aware of the social issues helps us to become better citizens of society. They are still working on including J-track students especially those who are majoring in IR to allow an interesting exchange of ideas between E-track and J-track students. 

Hoa: There is a range of events such as reading groups, workshops, trivia nights. We highly encourage everyone to give them a try as we believe everyone can learn and also an opportunity to meet people who are interested in the same field, just try to come by.

Special thanks to Hoa for her participation in our interview! And remember to check TIUIRSA out using the contacts below.

Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: @tiuirsa

Email: tiuirsa@gmail.com

The Festival of Tanabata

Author: Theo F.

Editor: Aika Matsui

Translator: Kotoko

The lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi are only allowed to meet every year on the seventh day of the seventh month, but what have they done to deserve this?

Tanabata, celebrated on July 7 (Gregorian calendar) or during August (based on the traditional lunar calendar), follows the folktale behind the couple’s melancholic situation. It is said that the festival originated from an ancient Chinese ceremony shichiseki (七夕) where participants pleaded for skills and ability. Amongst the innumerable versions of Orihime and Hikoboshi’s story, one prominent depiction of the folktale describes Orihime as the princess of cloth-weaving.

The diligent Orihime was talented in her craft and her father – God – often enjoyed her masterpieces. Due to her work, Orihime felt dejected as she lacked both the opportunity and time for romantic encounters. In order to cheer his daughter up, God arranged for Orihime to meet Hikoboshi, a cowherd who lived across the Milky Way. The meeting was a success as the two fell head over heels for each other. Soon after, Hikoboshi took Orihime as his wife.

However, the galaxy went haywire once the couple married. Hikoboshi ceased to exert control over his herd of rampaging cows, and Orihime no longer weaved for her customers nor for her father. Furious, God inserted the Milky Way in between and broke the two lovers apart. So that she can see her husband again, Orihime repented and promised to work hard in exchange for yearly meetings with Hikoboshi. God granted her wish and permitted them to meet on the seventh day of the seventh month, where magpies would build a bridge with their wings upon the Milky Way, enabling Orihime to cross.

※If it rains on the fated day, Orihime and Hikoboshi will not be able to meet because the magpies cannot make a bridge over high tide.

Orihime and Hikoboshi’s story is intriguing, but what do we actually do during the festival of Tanabata?

Inspired by some elements of the Chinese practice, Tanabata is a festival where we plead for our wishes to come true. During the festive days of Tanabata, you can see bamboo stalks around Japan with pieces of paper hung on them.

These pieces of paper are called tanzaku (短冊), and festival-goers write their wishes on them. Since bamboos grow straight and tall, it is said that Gods and spirits descend to drive away the impure and grant wishes. Other than hanging tanzaku, participants also often wear yukatas (traditional Japanese clothing) to enjoy the festive ambiance.

For those interested in going to Tanabata celebrations, there are a few major ones around Saitama, Tokyo, and Kanagawa; but due to the pandemic there is a high probability that they will be postponed or cancelled this year. So making your own DIY tanzaku and having a Zoom Tanabata party might be fun too!

Behind the Martinos’ Lens

Author: Theo Fok Tat

Editor: Saki Arimoto

Translator: Kotoko Fujita

Jaida’s New Beginnings at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, Saitama 

Jaida Martino and Austin Martino, our current TIU students, are both talented photographers; born in South Carolina and Hawaii respectively, they have moved across states growing up. The siblings also share a passion for martial arts, but this interview reveals that those might be all that they have in common… 

As a hobby, Jaida had begun with taking candid shots of her friends with a small ¥1,300 camera. Although she might vaguely remember the fun episodes in her life, these snaps allowed Jaida to crystallize and physically store captured memories. They enable Jaida and her friends to reminisce about the meals they have shared and the colourful evenings they have spent together. Jaida also loves to combine her photography skills with her other hobby – travelling – as she has recently begun monetizing her craft in the form of stock photos.

For Austin, he never intended to get into photography and videography, but a chain of events had led him to pick up his first camera, and he explained that he was glad that it happened. Austin enjoys documenting the lifestyles of people; he believes that as social beings, we all have normal struggles and it is important to acknowledge them. As a freelancer, Austin is working on commissions that paint the genuinely of familial and romantic relationships. 

To illustrate some of their motivations, Jaida and Austin shared some interesting stories behind their work.

One morning, as the maternal side of her family was preparing for family portraits, Jaida decided to snap some candid “behind the scene” shots. Her album captured the sincere homely moments as “the girls were fixing their hair and the boys were chattering about something or other.” Jaida wishes that in the future, she and her family can immerse themselves in nostalgia and treasure their bonds as they flip through the album.

To Those Also Looking for Their Passion – one of Austin’s recent videography projects – is a cinematic that follows Ayush and his voyage. The narration captures the university student’s honest endeavors as he continues his journey to discover his way of life. Through this piece, Austin hopes to inspire and convey that there is nothing wrong with being lost in life, and that it is important to face forward and keep going.

Towards the end of our conversation, I asked how they were able to balance the hobby aspect and the work aspect of their crafts. The Martino siblings believe that it is inauspicious to have an employer as an artist, since when a third party regulates your art, it is no longer “your art.” They insist that it is crucial to pursue projects that you enjoy and feel inspired doing. Furthermore, Jaida asserts that “when you define yourself as something you do, then that’s where things get dangerous.” She maintains that although it is difficult to find the balance, take it easy because there is so much more to life than just identifying with one thing.

Indeed, passion and its values are different for different individuals. Especially for Austin, he believes that “nowadays, we tend to just do photography for the colours and Instagram clout, but at the end of the day, photography is really about remembering the moment and the meaning.”

Jaida has been working on product photography. You can find her on Instagram at @jaidakins 

Austin is currently honing his skills as he works with a professional videographer. Visit Austin on Instagram at @auz_martino 

Tracy: Part-time Teacher and Part-time Traveller

Written by Saki Arimoto
Edited by Theo T. Fok
Translated by Kotoko F.

As an international student, one can experience unforeseen difficulties. But at the same time, one can also have new discoveries about the culture and traditions, as well as about oneself. I interviewed a friend, Tracy, or Minh Tam by birth, who shared her ongoing journey to self-actualization in Japan.

Tracy is a junior majoring in Business Economics. Interestingly, people call her different names depending on how they met her. Among her friends in school she goes by Tracy, while she uses Min at work. She is fond of the color pink as she believes it symbolizes her personality – bright and positive. She had had quite a number of experiences outside the university that molded her to how she is as a person now.

Tracy: I have done a lot of part-time jobs. The first one was factory work during my first year in the university. I had to pack the food by putting it into a plastic bag. I was introduced to this job by a friend, but to be honest, I didn’t really like the place since I was not allowed to speak with my coworkers. After nearly a year, I quit the job, and looked for a job that allowed communication in Japanese. I found a job at a sushi restaurant. I have been working there for around two years already and I stay there until now because I really enjoy working there. Not only do I get to know more about Japanese traditional food, but I am actually able to use my Japanese, and I can tell I have improved since then. I actually dream of opening a sushi restaurant of my own in my home country, Vietnam.

Aside from the sushi restaurant job, Tracy also works at a family restaurant.

Tracy: I recently got another job at a family restaurant and the more interesting thing about the job is I am able to talk directly to customers in Japanese, unlike at the sushi restaurant where I only speak to my fellow coworkers in the kitchen. I realize how much I enjoy speaking Japanese whenever I speak to Japanese customers who are, most of the time, nice and welcoming. On top of this, my boss is also very nice and laid back so I think it is a very different experience, and I enjoy it the same.

She also adds that she works as an English part-time teacher.

Tracy: My favorite job among all the ones I have been doing is teaching English to kids. I found this job using a platform where they connect teachers and students. Fortunately, someone hired me to be their teacher. I have been teaching for more than two years and I have gotten really close to my students. And before the class starts, I usually feel very tired but as soon as I meet the students and see how they have improved in English, I feel a sense of happiness and in a way, I get my energy from them.

Needless to say, Tracy is a hard-worker. And so I wondered what she does during her free time if she had any.

Tracy: I love traveling. Actually, when I arrived in Japan, I got the impression that the sky was so blue and beautiful, and realized I have to see more beautiful places. I put a portion of my salary aside for traveling so that when either the summer or winter break comes, I can go on a trip somewhere with some friends.

Up until now, she has been to Osaka, Niigata, Kusatsu, Nikko, Nagano, Enoshima, and Yokohama, among others.

Tracy: I record all my travels on my Instagram account using the highlight feature. So whenever I go to a new place, I make a new highlight and it gives me a sense of achievement. Also, when I want to travel but do not really have the luxury to do so, I go to the station and ride the train until the last stop then take the train back to the station. This might be a bit weird but I enjoy seeing new things.

Another thing Tracy loves to do is photography in which she found passion within her stay in Japan.

Tracy: I used to love photography back in Vietnam but I was not able to do much photography until I could afford decent cameras. Thanks to my part-time jobs, I was able to purchase an Instax camera and a DSLR one which led me back to my passion. I am mostly into taking landscape photos and some portrait photos of my really good friends. I have a separate account for my photography and not only do I post photos there, but I also include some short stories or messages mostly about my time here in Japan.

Tracy used to only focus on academics when she was a high school student in Vietnam, but after coming to Japan, she realized that there is much more than that to life. “Working in different places is a way for me to experience the Japanese culture and make friends,” she emphasized. Of course, as an international student – and especially for Tracy – there are times that one can feel homesick. She keeps herself occupied so she can stay positive; she believes that having such a lifestyle is important to overcome hardships. Furthermore, she advises her fellow international students to “keep smiling, spread positive energy, and take on an adventure!”

You can see more of her beautifully-taken photos on her Instagram @takenby.tracy