I quite often get asked for my 感想 (kansou), or impressions, thoughts, and reflections. As illustrated, school visits usually end with a few parting thoughts from the students and from my fellow CIRs and I. Usually things like, “I learned/enjoyed ____. I hope we can _____ in the future. It is good to _____.” I try to keep them short and simple, but that’s usually because I’m afraid my ability to speak Japanese will disappear when I’m put on the spot.

I’ve stopped bothering to keep track of how many times I’ve been on the news or in the newspaper. Sometimes it’s an interview for the sake of international exchange, but other times I’m simply an easy target when I’m an obviously foreign person attending uniquely Japanese events. I am also a recurring guest on a short radio program called “Heisei no Hearn”, in which a couple other Western CIRs and I talk about our own experiences of Matsue (seeing as we’re living here as foreigners like Lafcadio Hearn did, but in the modern Heisei period). It’s nice when the interviewers ask direct questions like where I’m from or how long I’ve been practicing wearing a kimono or what I had for lunch, but then there is the dreaded kansou question.

What are my impressions…? Umm… ummmm…

Even if the answer is “nothing in particular” or “it was fun” I always feel like I need to give them a bit more than that to work with. After all, I am a public employee, so I might as well give the public something interesting–I just cross my fingers and hope that whatever I babble on about will be intelligible.

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