I always joked that I intentionally avoided Roppongi Hills, specifically because that is where “all the foreigners hang out,” but truthfully, I just didn’t enjoy the night club scene. I wound up there one day and not by accident! Even with Did I ever tell you about the time I recorded a bilingual English-Japanese podcast right after moving to Tokyo, Japan? Would you believe this happened nearly ten years ago?!
Laughter made recording the episode so much fun!
Over the last few years, my interest in podcasting has gradually increased, and for the longest time, I was trying to figure out why. Giving it considerable thought, I remembered the time I sat down in a professional studio at J-Wave Radio. I had barely unpacked my suitcases after five years in Tottori, before my employer tapped me to guest on an episode. The series was called Koi to Shigoto ni Kiku! (Successful1 in Love & Work) English with Cinema Podcast!
Episode Three: “Break a Leg”
In Japan, language learning as a hobby is quite popular, especially in the larger metropolitan areas as there are larger concentrations of non-Japanese speaking people, including professionals working abroad, vacationing travelers, and students on study exchange. The unique feature about b-cafe Watashi no Eikaiwa is that their clientele are women, typically in their twenties and thirties. It may sound like a niche market, but as more and more young women desire to focus on their careers or wish to study abroad, English language learning is still quite popular, after the compulsory requirements for junior and senior high school education.
In our episode, I was tasked with selecting a commonly used English phrase, writing a simple conversation script based on a common situation in which it would be applicable. My selection was “break a leg” because based on my own experiences with my students in Tottori, the literal meaning versus the situational meaning and its historical roots fascinated them!
Eat your heart out, Jerry! (photo: Warner Bros.)
After part one of the podcast, I got to stay in the booth while Minsil recorded the second half, discussing her recent viewing of The Dark Knight and Joker’s usage of “You complete me,” formerly of Jerry Maguire fame! Like Minsil, I had just seen the film, so it was rather fresh in my mind. After we finished recording, we heading out into the lobby, and I couldn’t believe it was over. I eagerly awaited the release of my episode and I was so incredibly thankful that I was given the opportunity.
Just a couple of women talking about movies and idioms in Tokyo!
What I never managed to tell my former employer was that when I was in undergraduate studies, my original major was Telecommunications. I wanted to be a journalist, but eventually decided to switch my major to English Studies after the cut-throat atmosphere of the introductory level courses shattered my confidence in my abilities and bullying from other students destroyed my confidence in my appearance. Working with my colleague to write a script and then recording it at a proper radio station was a dream come true! Although the entire series has been archived on the J-WAVE website2, I was thrilled to find that my old Language Partner blogs were still available on the b-cafe website! Now that I have resumed my language studies, looking over them reminds me how thankful I am to have had this experience.
Language Partner Blogs
- Karen’s First Blog (September 2008)
- 『私にまかせて！』”Leave it to me!” (Concierge Collaboration; September 2008)
- Japanese Comedy (October 2008)
- “Let’s Give Thanks!” (Thanksgiving; November 2008)
My tenure at b-cafe Watashi no Eikaiwa was a short one because despite my love for Japan, I learned quickly that I was better suited for the rustic suburbs than the big city life. The stress of the Tokyo living was far too much for me, so I elected to return home to Florida. I loved my colleagues and working one-on-one with my students. I am glad to see that they company has grown in the last ten years because when I was there, only four locations were available and now there is double that! I was a regular in the Ginza School, even though my heart was forever in Shibuya. I blame my love for Japanese comedy and having the Yoshimoto Kogyo Mugendai Hall3 just a couple of blocks away! Many of my former colleagues from this time in my life are now scattered around the globe, but I do hear from some of them from time to time, which makes me makes me nostalgic for the time I lived in Japan.
One of my biggest obstacles is getting used to listening to my own recorded voice. I always hated recording voice messages or making tapings for my lessons and exams, but when I made this podcast, I realized that it helped me to begin accepting my voice. Now, that I am working on creating video content for my channel as well as live streaming video game play, I am getting more and more acclimated to hearing it. As a result, there’s an itch in the back of my mind that is pushing me to seek out how vocal training and more importantly proper care of my voice. With the massive availability of podcasts and video channels, I may never strike it big, but there is nothing stopping me from giving it a try, right?
Tell me about what kind of podcasts you listen to and what impacts your decision to listen. What characteristics or content drives you to hit the download and subscribe buttons?
- Kiku is directly translated as “to be effective,” but it doesn’t sound natural given the context. I mean, who just wants to be effective in their professional career and personal lives?!
- Unfortunately, due to copyright restrictions my former employer was unable to release any higher resolution photos from the recording session or the final audio file. It has been archived on the J-WAVE website, so listening to the episode is a challenge. Yes, I still my episode saved somewhere safe for posterity.
- YKMH is where many of the rising comedic talents within the Yoshimoto Agency practice their content with live shows. You can imagine their surprise seeing a gaijin (a foreigner) in the audience from time to time!