Tall Black Japan 10: The Humble Abode

Tall Black Japan 10: The Humble Abode

It’s small. I knew that coming in, but seeing is different from reading.  My apartment is a 1 bedroom apartment that is about three-quarters of the size of an American 1 bedroom apartment.  I felt this was a prime example of Japanese minimalism at work; they everything down to closely the bare minimum. Housing was no exception…

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Tall Black Japan 9: Arrival in Matsumoto

Tall Black Japan 9: Arrival in Matsumoto

“After a long car rides and conversing, my co-workers drop me off at my place.  The one I’m replacing gives me a quick run through of the utilities and how bills were handled before they all left.  At this moment, I stood in my living room/bedroom and realized: I’m here.”

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Tall Black Japan 6: Toda Koen

by Joseph Bonney

Toda Koen is a small suburb outside of Tokyo that I've stayed in for work. It's one of the quietest cities I've stayed in in my life.  The foreigner population is crazy low. I was probably the one of two black people in that city alone, but it wasn't a problem. Many stares of course, and I also had Japanese citizens cross the street when they saw me.  Something that absolutely blew my co-worker’s mind when it happened to us (my third time since being in the town lol).

There is one supermarket with 5 minutes of walking distance that sold just about everything.  Then the amazing Bento shop that gives you a whole tray of food for ¥500 (roughly $5).

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The local mall is pretty neat too (did you know Konami owns a gym?), 2 floors of Japanese and Western merchandise.  This was also the first time I saw a KFC in the country. It was healthier and came with an apple pie (U.S. #StepYoGameUp)!

I saw my first daiso or, as we call it in America,  a dollar store.  Easily the most fascinating thing in the mall. And speaking of America, there's a Western store that sells some American-style goods like Hershey's, and beans.  

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Overall the town is a quiet, little Japan secret.  They have all these cool things, but like Japanese culture Toda is humble about it all.  A pleasant little place, but not somewhere to be for a crazy night (I mean you can make it happen, but yeah… good luck lol)

Stay tuned for more updates from me in the near future!


Joseph Bonney is a contributing writer for Human Influence. Originally from Central Texas, he moved to Japan where he teaches English.

Tall Black Japan 5: Touchdown in Tokyo

Tall Black Japan 5: Touchdown in Tokyo

Something that I noticed at the airport was how willingly Japan was adopting Western culture. Such as the Starbucks, large array of Kit Kats, and even the models in photos appeared to be Japanese people who could easily pass as Caucasian (an occasional site, but still often enough that it was noticeable)…

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Tall Black Japan 3: Flights and Layovers

Tall Black Japan 3: Flights and Layovers

I've only been on a plane 2 times before now. Both times, I had adults doing most of the heavy lifting for me.  Though this time around I realized it's not as complicated as I expected. The hardest part which was more so time consuming than anything was rechecking my luggage in San Francisco…

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Tall Black Japan: The Introduction

Tall Black Japan: The Introduction

Since a young age I was always interested in Japanese culture, even before I knew what Japan was. I played their video games and watched their animes: Mario, Final Fantasy, and One Piece to Studio Ghibli films like Howe's Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke, Bayonetta, and other fascinating pieces of work. With the crazy technology that I would see on TV, tied in with the amazing sushi, ramen, and taki I consumed, I wanted to explore more…

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Tall Black Japan

Tall Black Japan

I left my place in San Marcos and started packing the moment I hit Austin. My airline allows for 1 checked luggage, 1 carry on, and my backpack which is filled with drawing tools and my Surface Pro 4.

For people who don't know, I'm headed for Japan…

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Zac West: The Human Influence Interview

Zac West: The Human Influence Interview

Infused in the syncopated flickering of LA's bright lights is a curiosity. A curiosity for the unknown. A curiosity waiting to be explored by the swelling up of music, art and performance. Most artists share this curiosity but it's the ones hungry enough to pursue it that eventually realize its value. One such artist is the aspiring musician by the name of Zac West...

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Raise Her Voice Revisited, Vol. 2: @shielamusic

Raise Her Voice Revisited, Vol. 2: @shielamusic

In our ongoing series before each edition of Raise Her Voice, we reach out to former participant in the show and ask them about the experience and other questions about their artistry. For Volume 2, we're gonna publish interviews leading up to the sixth (!) edition of Austin's famous Raise Her Voice showcase, this Friday at Cheer Up Charlie's... 

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