Dispatches

Abandoned, broken umbrella in a Tokyo park

The State of the Blog, January 2022

Today I’d like to take a break from the regular schedule of the last year and look at the current state of my Somewhere in Japan project and talk a bit about where it’s headed in 2022. There will be some changes, as well as some exciting new things in the works.

First, where we are. To date, 105 of my short “dispatches,” which comprise the first, year-long section of the project. It was originally something to help me get back into writing through extended regular practice, in public and on a schedule. At a personal level, these act as signposts, marking a location in time, place, and thought. But they’ve also done the job of getting the writing muscles somewhat fit again.

This is important, because I now feel much more up to tackling some of the things I’ve had in mind for a long time, but which previously felt overwhelming—Ideas I’ve had for years that I could never really get started on because they felt outside my ability. These things now seem much more doable.

With that in mind, let’s look at how things are going to be changing at Somewhere in Japan in 2022:

Dispatches will continue, but on a more limited basis.

For now, I’m going to aim for one new dispatch post a week (on Fridays) instead of two. This, for two main reasons:

  1. To free up more time and energy to put into long-form work, the new project listed below, the podcast, the Patreon, etc.
  2. To write these posts because I have something I want to express, instead of feeling compelled to publish a post because I’ve committed to a particular schedule. Put another way, to put quality above quantity.

Long-form, research-based articles will become a major part of the site’s content.

This type of work was what I originally wanted to do with Somewhere in Japan, but that I felt too overwhelmed to tackle. There are so many fascinating things to investigate and write about, and it’s time to work on these stories.

Photography will become a much more prominent element.

In 2021, I prioritized writing over photography, which has accomplished the things I hoped it would accomplish. In 2022, I won’t be de-prioritizing writing in favor of photography, but trying to make proper use of my other strong creative skill. There will be image galleries added to the site, as well as photo essays, photo illustrations for articles, etc.

The podcast version of 2021’s dispatches will begin.

I’ve begun recording these and will begin releasing them soon, likely including three dispatches per episode. I am facing technical challenges with production, but part of the fun and the purpose of this is expanding my skill set. The podcast will become available first on the Patreon, where patrons will get access before the general public. Once I’ve got a half-dozen or so episodes put together, I’ll set up a feed you can subscribe to using the podcast app of your choice.

And finally, the thing I’m most excited about:

Map overlaid with a circle with a 1,000m radius and centered in Tsuki Park, Urawa Ward, Saitama City, Japan
Map overlaid with a circle with a 1,000m radius and centered in Tsuki Park, Urawa Ward, Saitama City, Japan

The new, long-term primary project: A Thousand-Meter Radius

The new focus of the blog overall will be a long-term project that I expect to last through 2022 and into 2023, or however much longer I live where I do.

The concept is this: based on a center point near my home, draw a circle on a map representing an area with a thousand-meter radius and study the contained area extensively. I will look at history, infrastructure, architecture, businesses, education, cultural sites, as well as doing interviews with and portraits of people who live and work in the area.

This project will yield many interesting things and will require me to stretch myself creatively, as well as push myself to learn/use Japanese language more.

This will be fun.

Dispatches and posts from the new project will appear in the main feed on the site, as well as be mailed to you if you are signed up for the newsletter.

Thank you for reading, and thanks for being here. Your presence is sincerely appreciated.

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