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INTERVIEWS > General > Ridwan Kirke in Japan

Ridwan Kirke in Japan

Find out how Ridwan's exciting JET programme visit to Japan is going - what he has done, has learnt and why he feels everyone could benefit from such an experience.
9 Apr 2024
Written by Jon Kempton
Aguni Island
Aguni Island

Ridwan Kirke (’19)– JET Programme

I am currently based on Aguni island, Okinawa prefecture, Japan. The island I am on has a population of 657 people, and a total of three English speakers. So, it has been an interesting challenge to establish new connections with the villagers here. That is not to say, however, that I have not received a warm welcome. The main challenge has been strengthening relationships while interacting through a language barrier. Thankfully, joining the volleyball and badminton club has allowed for steady development in that regard. Besides that, the island is beautiful. I often go for swims on idyllic beaches, which have some of the bluest waters I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. I also go for evening strolls if the weather is pleasant. Through which, I have seen tropical flora such as banana trees, dragon fruit vines, papaya trees, adan trees, and hibiscus flowers. I am even lucky enough to have a couple dozen banana trees in my backyard. It was an eye-opening experience seeing the fruits I would only ever see in supermarkets growing freely on the island. I have also started to eat out far more in Japan, especially when I compare it to my last two years of university, where I cooked the vast majority of my meals. But, while I do not want to neglect the cookery skills I have garnered over these past few years, it is simply more convenient and affordable to eat out in Japan. Not to mention the dearth of western ingredients on my small island, which makes preparing dishes I am familiar with near impossible.

Every weekday, after finishing work, I practice playing the piano on one my school has graciously allowed me to play. While I am by no means at a professional level, I am currently attempting to tackle Liszt's Un Sospiro, though I imagine I will need to improve my finger mobility a bit before managing to pull it off. Overall, Japan has struck me as an incredible place to live. There are so many new things to discover, be it some of Japan's commonplace items which are technologically advanced as compared to the West, or the parts of Japan which seem stuck in the past (the fax machine in my office is the first thing that comes to mind). I would recommend anyone who has an interest in Japan to visit, though I would also mention that it will be far more enjoyable if you have a decent grasp of the Japanese language.


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