Dying wouldn’t be ideal, but it was/is ideated

(CW: Suicide, suicidal ideation) I nearly didn’t make it to 2018. I say this not out of exaggeration or to shock, but to remind myself that things can change. To look back at it now it seems quite hard to believe (though definitely not impossible). I nearly didn’t make it to 2018. Three times I walked to the edge of the platform as a train was coming, listening to the

On the complex relationship between learning a language and being in the world

(CW: Language learning, panic attacks, mental health, suicide) I hesitated to write this post because I still feel shame about my level of Japanese after living here so long. By now, surely, I “should be native level, right?” is a question I’ve often been asked by friends back in the UK. But I’m not. I’m still intermediate level. What does that mean? Well it means I can order in restaurants,

Life as an academic in Japan (as a non-Japanese)

Let me preface this with a huge disclaimer. This post is based on my experience and in no way should it be taken as applying to everyone. Each person will have different backgrounds, working environments, institutional systems and colleagues, so my purpose in this post is merely to give one perspective (and to answer a request for a post on this). I am employed at one of Japan’s top-ranked national

I know Kung fu…

If only it were as easy as in The Matrix. I’d love to be able to plug myself in and learn all the amazing varieties of martial arts that exist, they’re all so fascinatingly different! To most people though a martial art is a martial art, all similar to each other. That’s actually what I thought at the beginning of my kung fu journey… Recall in a previous post (Why

On how I fell into sociology

Sociology gets a bad rap, often quite justifiably in my opinion. But I am a sociologist and although I’m not working at the moment I think sociology gets into your bones and to an extent becomes part of what you are. I want to say a bit about that here, but first I need to get defensive, as sociology is often laughed at, one of the ‘fake degrees’ (“oh you

Panic! at the Bistro

(CW: panic attack, hospitals, general mental illness etc.) I’m on extended sick leave from work at the moment, diagnosed with Panic Disorder and severe depression/Bipolar 2. I decided when I took sick leave that I would be open about my mental illness on twitter, but I haven’t written anywhere how it came about or why I’m open about it. Let’s start with the latter first. As a sociologist I have

Why Sheepchase?

I’m in Japan, so most people think I chose this username (on twitter and as a web domain) because of Murakami Haruki’s “Wild Sheep Chase”, but actually that’s not the case. I have, of course, read the book, but I had an affinity to sheep before I’d done so. It all comes from a cycle ride in 1999. It’s probably not wrong to say that my father and I had

On how I got here

First proper #blogtober post and why not start by giving my life’s history… no don’t worry I’m not going to do that, but some people might be interested in how I ended up in Japan. Let me start of by saying I was not a Japanophile. I think this is important to say because so many people seem to come to Japan because they have a strong love of the


Amazingly it’s October. This year eh, phew! Feels both like it’s dragged and like it’s whizzed by in equal measure; does that mean we’re sort of stuck? Anyway, October means Blogtober and in its spirit I’ll be aiming to blog once a week. One issue is that I have very little idea of what to blog about, but I suspect it will be on mental health—I am on (extended) sick