Hobby Link Japan
You Need Your Hobbies in Japan!
You have left your home and your family. You have no friends.You need your - hobby link Japan! Your apartment closes in on you and the cockroaches are huge, black, and they fly; your boss is a jerk who cuts up goldfish to feed to his piranhas. You need to get your mind off things. You need a hobby!
Some of the greatest people I have ever met in Japan have been the friends I have made through playing games. I enjoy historical simulation games, usually called wargames. These are games about history or military history, that are played on a board or a table.
Before you run away from your computer sceaming war monger! Let me just say that most of the wargame players or "wargamers" I meet are some of the most peaceful people on the planet. Usually they are pacifists in stance, or at least anti-war. Perhaps because we have studied war in detail, we may be more aware of how terrible it is than the general public. Indeed, some of the most kind, and caring folk to grace our planet in fact, are game players role playing gamers and wargamers.
Hobby Link Japan - Role Playing Games
I have also played role playing games, but I don`t like these nearly as much. Dungeon and Dragons is perhaps the most famous roleplaying game. It has received a lot of bad press from a sensational media and some players with obvious psychological problems. However, roleplaying is in no more dangerous than acting. To some extent roleplaying is like putting on a drama. You each take on the role of a character and go on some kind of a quest. You probably need to play a game to see what I mean.
Hobby Link Japan - STAN!
One dear friend I met about twelve years ago is Steve Brown. Known to his fans as "Stan!" He is a great guy. The man is intelligent, funny, creative and a great humanitarian. He can always make me laugh and think. Steve taught English in Shizuoka Prefecture before going back to the states to design games and write. He still does so at present. He proudly showed me the books he authored when we went to Chapters in Vancouver. When I go back home, I try to see him in his city of Seattle.
Steve and I started a games club called JIGG: Japan`s International Gamers Guild in 1992 and it is still going strong.
It now has branches in various cities in Japan and hundreds of members, many who live abroad. We arrange to play games in each others homes, and in community centres. We have even played a live role playing game in a park in Machida, and that was my favourite roleplaying memory. Chasing "Man Mountain Mike" through a park, with startled families staring at these crazy foreigners, I felt like a kid again.
Hobby Link Japan - Japan`s International Gamers Guild
Maybe that is why I love the members of JIGG so much.
So many of the players are still in touch with the child in them. Maybe at work they act like the corporate type, and frankly too many people act stiff and adult all of the time. My gaming friends are child-like and funny, and I definitely mean this as a compliment! When you play games, you revive the child in you, and it is nice to be around when that happens, especially when you are in your forties!
The variety of people I have met through games is another thing I like. It is one of the great equalizers. Being a school chain owner, I tend to meet a lot of teachers, and of course Japanese who are interested in studying English. I rarely meet a mechanic though. I do through playing games. I meet people from all walks of life, and it is great for me to become friends with non-university types too. We all need a variety of friends from different backgrounds and in different occupations.
One of my friends whom I met through games is someone who is a little famous in Japan. You may not know Mark Hoover by name, but you hear his music nearly everyday if you watch Japanese TV. He wrote the theme song for the Nescafe TV commercials. It was his thesis piece for university and it is a beautiful song. I only wish I could hear the whole composition- (the Nescafe commercials are too short!)
Hobby Link Japan - Great Friends through Hobbies
There are many people who have graced my life through playing wargames. I can`t mention them all by name, but you know who you are. I thank them for being a part of my life. For taking the time to teach me and my children how to paint a figure, or teaching me the rules or a new strategy for a game. In our rush, rush world, it is nice to take a breather with a group of "gamers." Time slows down, and I can be transported back in time or to some future time on a distant planet (depending on what game I am playing). The games force me to Think: what would I have done in this situation?
I think more than back in our home countries, when you first come to Japan you need to get involved in a hobby or two quickly. The walls of your apartment can seem very bare and lonely.
JIGG Kanagawa at Facebook
JIGG`s main forum for Tokyo
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