By Phinashia Page, Hida RPA
I knew I’d experience a lot of things for the first time in Japan, but camping was not one that I expected. Growing up, I never thought I’d ever enjoy camping; why would I ever want to sleep in a tent outside in the woods when I could be perfectly comfortable in my own bed? But add magic, adventure, and the chance to hit my friends with foam weapons, and I am apparently all about that life. I also never thought I’d be interested in LARP, but here we are.
To put it simply, Live Action Role Playing (LARP) is a roleplaying game where you become a character. Instead of imagining a battlefield or watching characters carry out actions on a screen, you perform the actions. You become the warrior or scholar. You trade with the traveling merchants and fight off the invaders in your campsite. You almost get hit with the tent the undead creature throws in your general direction. Okay, maybe that last one isn’t so glamorous… Because you’re doing things like actually running from bandits and sometimes even foraging for food (props), it’s also a great way to sneak some exercise in.
There are tons of kinds of LARP events. For example, there are events based on Harry Potter (yeah, you can go to wizarding school), Pride and Prejudice, and Game of Thrones. LARP can even be used for things like education and therapy. There is a surprisingly large amount of research being done on LARP, actually, and that information has the potential to help a lot of people.
My group plays for entertainment. I play with Havenhollow. We’re the first guild of Underworld LARP to be set up in Japan. In addition, as far as we know, we are the very first English-language LARP group in Japan. We play in a wooded, slightly mountainous area in Toyota City. Our typical event lasts two days, always over a weekend, so we usually camp on the land. It's surprisingly comfortable to sleep out there. The only downside, really, is the lack of running water...it really makes me appreciate that first after-LARP shower once I finally make my way home.
Personally, I was introduced to LARP by a fellow JET. I didn’t know what to expect, so I volunteered to be a non-playing character, or NPC, for my first event. Best. Decision. Ever. I got to play the eldest daughter of the duke who rules the island nation of Havenhollow, so basically a princess. She had the power to bring someone back to life, or call down an unstoppable warrior. There was even a fancy banquet to welcome her and her sister back from their journey to the continent. I also got to play as a guard and swing a sword, but being the princess was the best; anyone can swing a sword, but not many people can bring someone back to actual living life.
Unfortunately, the princess had a limited run. If I wanted to continue playing, I had to create my own character. So I did. When the time came, I returned as Allaire, a High Elf Mage who studies in the Sphere of Healing. For one whole weekend roughly once a month, I get to heal wounds and sicknesses in the blink of an eye, go on grand adventures, and help my new friends establish a new settlement. Also be charmed by a minotaur, almost killed by a necromancer, and attacked by the undead. But grand adventures, magical powers, and hitting people with foam weapons! I always get super excited to go out for the next event; I’ve even dedicated pages in my planner to my character, supply and packing lists, and equipment wish lists. I look forward to exploring more about my character and the characters of everyone else in the group.
While I’m grateful for not having to run through the woods in the heat that calls itself August, I can’t wait to get back to LARPing. I want to know what adventures lay ahead for our group inside the game, and who we’ll meet next in real life. We’re a small group, but we welcome anyone who wants to join in on the fun. We’ve had visitors join us from as far away as Tokyo and the Kansai area; even travelers from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand have graciously taken time out of their Japan vacations to come visit us! We’re always on the lookout for new players and friends, so feel free to stop by our Facebook page and have a look around.
And now for some links, because links are cool.
Japan-Guildhouse Havenhollow Facebook Page – This is the place to go to for information about upcoming events and to see pictures and videos from past events.
Underworld LARP – The site for the system under which we play. Lots of great information here. I recommend taking a look through the Core Rule Book if you think you might be interested in joining us.
Wanna see us in action?
A LARP in Japan - This link starts part-way through, but it’s from an adventure we had back in February when a lovely woman named Cheyenne came to visit Japan. Check out the other videos on this channel for some awesome information about LARP and the wonderful team known as Larp House.
In Character Adventures from Underworld LARP - We also had a visit when the team behind the Tamwise Travels YouTube channel were on a trip to Japan in May. The other videos on this channel are awesome and super informative as well. This video is a recap of the first half of our adventure together; it's a great way to hold you over until the second half of the adventure is uploaded.
By Sarah Demery, Gifu Region RPA
Casual English Party
A casual English party organised by one of the local bars where everyone can just come together and have a good time chatting to locals and people from around the world! Entry is free for foreigners and alcoholic beverages are available starting at only ¥400!
When: September 7th, 7:30-9:30pm
Where: Co-ba, Honmachi 3 chome, Takayama-shi, Hida region
For more information: Talk to a Takayama ALT
When: September 23rd
Where: Furukawa-chō city area, Hida-shi
For more information: http://www.hida-kankou.jp/event/16/article/
When: September 24th
Where: Canyon Acala Seki-shi, Chuno region
For more info: http://www.nihon-kankou.or.jp.e. wp.hp.transer.com/gifu/detail/21205ba2212054816
Raise the bow. Draw. Let go. Hit the target. To many, this is kyudo. But kyudo is more than just shooting arrows. It’s also about clearing the mind. Only with an empty mind will the arrow fly true. Well, an empty mind and proper form. When I started studying kyudo last November, my intention was to learn about reaching that clear mindedness, or mushin (無心). My sensei found it strange that a young woman--a foreigner nonetheless--was interested in mushin. My reasoning was that I felt that the techniques used in kyudo to help calm the body and clear the mind could also be used in my everyday life.
Living in a foreign country is hard work. Whether I'm on the clock or not, I'm always learning something new. Sometimes it's a positive experience, and sometimes it can be pretty bad. And when it's bad, that clouds my judgement about my experience here. I get pouty and short of breath; all I wanna do is isolate myself from everyone and resist every Japanese custom I encounter. But that's impossible, and kinda childish of me. When I take this anger with me to kyudo practice, it shows. My sensei and upper classmates in their own passive way will talk to me about kyudo practice, giving me both comments and feedback. Then they end the feedback by saying, “This is very hard. Even I struggle with this, and I've been at it for ten years.” I get distracted from my anger when they say this and I actually manage to calm down. Then, whether I hit the target or not, I feel proud of my progress, and my mood about being here changes.
Kyudo for me turned out to be a great way to de-stress from my life. Physically, I pull my bow to a full draw and hold it for as long as I can. Once I let go, that sense of release relaxes me, as if I'm letting go of whatever it is I'm stressed about. Mentally, though, kyudo gives me the chance to practice clearing my mind. It all starts with the breath. From the moment you enter the shooting range until you leave, every motion I do must be synced with my breathing. I've learned that more often than not this helps me clear my mind. Then, I have the brain capacity to fix my form or aim. I guess now there's no room to be frustrated when all I'm trying to achieve is a clear mind, relaxation, and that awesome feeling of releasing an arrow.
Recently, I’ve tried to clear my mind whenever I encounter frustrating situations. I take a moment to breathe, clear my mind, and try to organize as simply (and bluntly) as I can to express my thoughts and feelings. Usually people say the classic, “Shouganai ne”, or “It can’t be helped”, but at least my coworkers and supervisors know how I feel, and try on some level to work with that. Some haven’t lived abroad--or haven’t even left Japan before--so they don’t understand the challenges I face. But I’m grateful for my kyudo practice because it really helps me stay calm and appreciate all the good I’ve experienced here. Whatever my goals may be, I won’t be able to obtain them without a clear mind. I have to breathe and only focus on what needs to be done. That can be as simple as getting through the day or as complicated as calling my supervisor after my car suddenly stops in the middle of a bypass. Step by step, inhale and exhale. Do one task and think of nothing else. Only then will I hit the target.
By Meryl Jordan, ALT PA
Hey Gifu JETs!
This was sent along to us by a Gifu JET Alum. If you are interested in being recorded doing thrilling things, this might be the thing for you:
Original FB casting post: https://www.facebook.com/danieljhenningsen/posts/1697066476992847
My name is Daniel and I am a Casting Producer for Travel Channel’s ‘Xtreme Waterparks’ and ‘Xtreme Screams!’
We are coming to Japan August 17-25 to film at 3 waterparks and 2 theme parks for both series. Below is the schedule for each of the days that we are filming, and the park we will be at:
8/17-18 - Shibamasa World (Xtreme Waterparks) - Fukui, Japan
8/20 - Earthship (Xtreme Waterparks) - Nagara River, Japan
8/21- Nagashima Spa Land (Xtreme Screams) - Kuwana, Japan
8/23 - Fuji Q (Xtreme Screams) - Fujiyoshida, Japan
8/25 - Hasunuma (Xtreme Waterparks) - Hasanumaho, Japan
Taxi reimbursement for getting to the park
If you’re interested, or have friends that might be, please send along:
A few fun photos their group.
Then the group will do a very brief (10 minutes) Skype pre-interview with our casting department. It's really fun and easy!
The shoots are ALL DAY - and we need 3-4 people to participate as CAST MEMBERS for the shoot. We always look for cast members who are around age 18-30, athletic and energetic and comfortable in a swimsuit while being followed by a camera crew and interviewed about their experience!
There is a link to the show, below. Let me know if you have questions, or would like to submit you or your friends for the show!
Thank you so much!
daniel henningsen / casting producer
HIGH NOON ENTERTAINMENT / www.highnoontv.com
O: 303.872.8732 / E: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gifu Blog
Brought to you by your PAs and RPAs to keep you up to date about what is going on for JETs in Gifu Prefecture