An Introduction

Hi! my name is Crystal and I am what I like to call, a recovering Otaku.

I don’t mean that as a way to insult or belittle those who proudly claim to be Otaku. But to me when I was younger and identified as being an Otaku, it was a way to be a part of community, but also as a way for me to escape reality of the everyday.

So for me, being a recovered Otaku doesn’t mean I don’t like anime and manga anymore (although I will say that I haven’t kept up with anything past maybe… 2015, so most of what I still enjoy now is considered classic anime, and I have gravitated more towards American comics over manga since the downfall of TokyoPop) but to me it means that I’ve retained my original love for the art and culture of anime and manga, but have added in a love and appreciation for all of Japanese culture, and a drive to learn more and more about not just the pop culture, but the traditional culture, the language, the country and history, and most of the people of Japan.

I spent 10+ years as a Public Relations Manager and Director for various culture based non-profits. In college I took every Japanese anthropology class I could get my hands on. I have spent over half my life studying Japanese to varying degrees of success.

My dream for the longest time was to live in Japan and have a little homestead in the Inaka. One of my biggest pie in the sky dreams is to be able to somehow help bolster tourism to rural areas of Japan in a sustainable way that would allow others to learn and come to love the culture and country that I have loved for so long, with hopes of helping rural areas and traditional trades and artisans produce income to help preserve the traditional arts and items for a lack of better words, for the future.

It sounds sort of altruistic when I put it that way. But I want to be able to share my love of Japan with others while supporting people in the country that I love so much. I know all over the world traditional arts and ways of doing things are disappearing. Here in the US, I know there’s been a big underground movement of people picking up hobbies that used to be survival skills. That was amplified during the pandemic. Now it seems like everyone is baking bread, making their own clothes, raising chickens… and its a great thing and more people are starting to do things things every day.

It seems to be similiar in Japan. While Japan is facing a large predicament with a negative birthrate, an aging population, schools shutting down in rural areas due to lack of children, and all sorts of other things we can delve into further later, I’ve also seen a renewed interest in moving away from some of the cities, moving to “inaka” areas sometimes for really cheap or even free depending on the circumstances, and building lives. reinvesting time and money into “old school” and traditional ways of doing things. Slow living, I think is what it’s called. Between this and the rise of the influencer/content creators/jvloggers theres also been a resurgence in traditional crafts and foods, and ways of doing things. I watched a twitch stream or a tiktok live… not sure which… a while back and it was a creator doing some traditional Japanese woodcarving. It was amazing. no machines, just handtools and traditional methods, but creating things that were very contemporary. Preserving of the crafts and the processes is so important so they don’t get lost to time.

One business that does a really great job of helping to preserve traditional ways of doing and making things is the kokoro cares subscription boxes. If you haven’t heard of them, look them up. They’re not cheap but they are absolutely worth it. Each month they have a different theme. But they partner with traditional and artisanal food suppliers across Japan to curate unique gift boxes, and they include a neat booklet with recipes and information about the makers of the food items. Many of the items they have in their boxes are not only not available outside of Japan, but also many of them are not typically available outside of the prefecture that they’re made in.

Outside of the preserved Yuzu peel “candy” (Yuzu is my absolute favorite flavor) my favorite item so far have been Kaze Somen, which is noodle that is dried by the wind (Kaze means wind)

Anyways, that’s a little about myself. Maybe someday I’ll do a little more of a “origin story” but right now it is my goal to get word to paper so to speak.

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