Ever heard of SOAS? Didn’t think so.  I love my university, but hellfire I get the whole “Oh….what?” all the time. It stands for the School of Oriental and African Studies, and is…well….pretty good for anything Asia/Africa related. But  did you know, that the one and only mirai.fm owner, Mr Danny Choo is in fact an alumnus of said uni?

Hell yeah.

So, on a sunny Tuesday 13th April, Mr Choo paid us a visit…I actually dragged myself out of an Easter holiday-procrastination-oversleeping slump to attend his talk. If you don’t know who he is…SHAME ON YOU.  And then go visit DC …he is the god of all that is blogging. Oh and then go watch him dance… Tokyo Trooper

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So, back to the event at hand.Danny’s talk was definitely worth going to, especially for me as a student of Japanese. Introduced by my History lecturer, Dr Angus Lockyer, who heads up the Japan Research Centre,  Danny began with his childhood. Growing up in Hackney,  his sega megadrive (SCORE!), his starting to watch anime and wanting to play more Japanese games…and so it followed that Danny started learning the language. I bet that’s the route a lot of you guys have taken?

I’ve gotta say, I was impressed at his dedication. Danny claims his love for a J-pop idol made him more determined to learn Japanese, and he gave a few interesting tips for us learners…

  • Danny recorded the audio from anime and played it back on his mp3, while walking/on buses etc.
  • He translated j-pop songs that he really liked (something I’ve heard many people do).
  • And most importantly in my opinion, the creation of Kanji charts and then putting them all over the house, especially in the toilet.

I would definitely recommend the last point, putting up grammar points on the side of the shower was certainly the key to my success at Japanese AS Level 😀 (If you can call it success >_>;)

Technical problems during the presentation...

Danny also put a lot of effort into getting jobs that would give him a chance to practice his language skills.

From a Japanese restaurant (where he met his lovely wife), onto JAL at Heathrow (Japan Airlines), and it must’ve worked as he graduated SOAS with First Class Honours….

*realises she should get her butt in gear if she wants to do the same….*

ALAS Danny Choo just wanted to live and work in Japan. He called it his “Destination”, and finally got a position with a magazine in Japan, thanks to his skills with the web, and then after that worked for Amazon.jp, also with their website.

  • One thing he also mentioned here, was that if you’re nay too keen on being an English teacher in Japan, a key thing to getting a job out there, is developing other important skills-NOT just language.

ALAS (I really like that word), he still wasn’t doing what he wanted to do. And he made a poignant, if slightly clichéd, speech about how little time we all have, how we should do what we truly love, and enjoy it. It certainly struck a chord with the audience though, and made me wanna go home and do my homework.

*Disclaimer: She did not actually go home and do her homework. But the thought was there.*

And thus Mirai (meaning future in Japanese), was formed. And the famous dannychoo.com. It’s user based content of blog-style posts vary from life in Japan, to anime, to figures, to Ball Jointed Dolls. A lovely example of which can be seen to the right, some of the audience brought their “daughters” with them.

Danny briefly spoke on the success of his business, all the Mirai related merchandise, TV appearances and now an in-the-making Anime. apparently showing all of us, that putting in enough effort will get you somewhere.

Not telling you where I am.

A lot of people turned up, and it was a good night, with a few hours for networking (or rather in practice for myself and friend….going really red and asking for photos with the Choo-ster). I would definitely advise checking out Danny’s website, a friend of mine can’t stand anime but she still reads it for the interesting insights into Japanese culture.

So, in the words of Danny himself….Lovely Jubbly.

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