Interview by Peter Underwood
This month I sat down with Shikisha Cowan, to discuss JET, Japan and packaging.
Why did you choose to join JET?
My name “Shikisha” is a Japanese word, and I figured I needed to spend real time in the country where my name originated! With a Japanese word for a name, it was only right that I spend real time here. I first heard about JET when I was in my early 20’s but I was not yet qualified, and when I finally became qualified, I was over the age limit. I had given up on the idea of JET & living in Japan, then last year, my friend made a bet. I lost, and thus had to apply. I am forever grateful that I lost that bet.
What do you hope to gain from your time on JET?
The list is long…. but here’s a few:
1. Language skills. I feel like a deer in headlights when everyone is speaking and I don’t understand, it’s not fun when you can’t communicate.
2. Understanding of education and government service. With my actual interest in both, I’m hoping to finish with a better understanding of them & a decision on what level of education I want to invest my time in.
3. Learning Taiko, there are so many uniquely Japanese things to learn, but Taiko is one thing I want to take home with me. I think it’s amazing and I can see Jamaica embracing the giant drums and the meditative beats that are played on it.
4. Oh and going to Ultra Tokyo.
How long do you plan on staying in Japan?
I think God will determine the final answer, but I’m hoping for all 5 years.
What extracurricular activities/hobbies do you participate in?
I used to do so much. Swimming, Debating, Student Government, One Piece, watching MUFC, Rally, Cricket, lunches, movies, games nights, and just plain old exploring the land. Then I moved here… I’m trying to reorganise myself in this space, so right now, my hobby is setting up my home to be livable. I’m looking for black book shelves if anyone spots one, give me a call.
What are some things you like about Japan?
Packaging! I know, it’s strange, but I really am a marketing nerd, so I easily get excited and intrigued about things like advertising & packaging.
Onigiri. I’m sure we all love this.
How purposeful they are with everything. The attention to detail in how things are done to ensure
What are some things you like less about Japan?
How far everything is from Aomori, and how by comparison it feels like we were forgotten on the road to development. No concerts? No Pokemon Center?
No church in my town. 😦 I didn’t realise I would miss fellowship as much as I do.
The clothes don’t fit! Japan’s homogenous outlook means stores neither carry for my size or shape. They do not consider any version of a curve.
What do you miss the most from your hometown/country?
My family, my friends & my church. All of my favourite moments, stories and adventures includes at least one of them.
Oh, and the movies, definitely the movies.
What was it like growing up in your hometown?
Hmnnn… Let’s not limit it to “hometown” because, well, Jamaica and I are not isolated like that. Growing up in Jamaica, in my family, was an irreplaceable blessing. It was the ability to experience the dichotomy of Jamaica’s sub-cultures that I would never trade. I went to school with the children of Ambassadors and the uber wealthy, and spent my evenings with persons who could only afford to buy a squeeze of toothpaste at a time. I have friends with waterfalls in their backyards, and some with only potholes on their streets. The most beautiful part of growing up in Jamaica is that nothing can hide, not the wealth or the poverty, the innercity’s grime or the splendid nature. Everyone is within reach.
Growing up, Jamaica was very much one giant community-family. My neighbours have fed me, spanked me, sent me to take a shower, combed my hair, taken me on vacation, helped me with homework, and even advised me on university and career. There was no getting away with anything, we were all accountable to each other, and loved each other. My music family, well that’s a whole lot of love, history, laughter, and culture that I got to witness. Nothing can replace being with people who live in constant pursuit of their passions. Seeing how it gave them a voice and that they used it to effect change around the world, always leaves you wondering why anyone would settle for less.
What are you family and siblings like?
Oh goodness, my family is a bit complex. My awesome Dad, has provided me with 6 amazing siblings, with the help of 4 rather interesting and beautiful women. I am the middle child, with 2 older sisters, 1 older brother, 2 younger sisters, and 1 younger brother. I have 11 nieces & nephews so far 🙂
Honestly, being in my family is a little more crazy than most, we all have our Dad in common. His creativity, his principles, his love, his work ethic, his loyalty, his compassion, run through all of us. Our family is like this, “Where two or more are gathered,” laughter, love, adventure, passion, rises by the n-th degree. A fly on the wall would witness support for each other’s dreams, deep discussions on politics or the Bible, lots of laughter, so many hugs, and food. So much food. (We all cook, all the time.)
How do you feel about Aomori winters?
I am not looking forward to this evil of which you speak. I feel like I’m living in Winterfell, and Mutsu is the wall. Only Wildlings live beyond it, and only the brave venture there.
“Winter is coming.”
Watch Netflix or NHK?
Netflix. NHK = Studying
Eat McDonald’s or Mos Burger?
Mos. McDonalds is good for fries though, and I really love fries. (By the way, McDonald’s failed in Jamaica, so Burger King FTW!)
Do winter sports or snuggle under a kotatsu?
Do I have to choose? Fine, until further notice, Snuggles!
Get up early or sleep in?
Sleep is my very best friend. Adulthood taught me that.