There have been many unexpected rewards to working on Bound in Japan, one of them being research. Yes, research! Ok, I kind of feel like I’m back in school again, but more than that, I feel like Alice down the rabbit hole–it’s absolutely fascinating to be discovering these new landscapes!

Every since the conception of BIJ, I’ve been doing a lot of research, learning about the non-native community in Japan and issues relevant to immigration, diversity, and so on. The inspiration for BIJ came from my personal experiences and impressions as a foreigner living in Japan, but in order to sustain such a project, I needed to know more about the collective experience, the common issues facing all of us as non-native residents. This research is shoring up the foundation of Bound in Japan.

I’ve been reading a lot of news articles, looking at surveys, and checking out the numerous papers and essays available on the Japan Focus website of the Asia-Pacific Journal. Recently, a friend pointed me to the blog of his friend Hilary Holbrow, a researcher at Harvard. The blog is called Seiobo (西王母), and Hilary writes about Japan issues in a very accessible way.

I contacted Hilary recently, and she was kind enough to answer a question that kept on popping into my head: Why did she call the blog “Seiobo”? The answer: Seiobo is the “wise mother of the west,” a Chinese goddess familiar to both Chinese and Japanese cultures. In this particular case, Seiobo represents a western woman sharing the insight and knowledge she gains of the land of the east.