At the beginning of this semester, I knew my hobbies and I knew my interest in Japan, but I had no idea how they might intersect. I had lots of ideas: perhaps a regular photography blog or maybe a travelogue video or two to illustrate my time in the Far East. However, the CIP program soon seemed like a great outlet for creativity. I weighed my options and found one of two that I liked – initially, the Doshisha student television circle seemed promising (because I do student television at Wesleyan) but I had no idea if they’d let some foreign stranger jump into their production. The presentation for Impact Hub flicked a switch: it was exactly what I was looking for.
There, I would have a chance to use my creative skills and also have a tangible result that is not just self-satisfying but serves a somewhat larger purpose. The photographs I take and videos I create are used as promotional outreach to reach wider target audiences. I get to hone my skills and build my portfolio while also meeting a great group of like-minded people, more of whom walk through the doors at each event.
Initially, I was once again a foreign stranger with worth to prove. Impact Hub already got photography done casually on the side by some of their employees, but I felt like a devoted photo/video person could do them some good. It took a couple weeks to find my niche there: I attended two events to do photo and take some video. At my Wednesday afternoon sessions at Impact Hub I was careful to protect my work from prying eyes – in hindsight that absolutely reinforced the skepticism but I wanted the result to be a surprise. In early October, at the first intern presentation session, I showed the pictures I had taken and the event recap video I had made. The reactions were instantaneous and enthusiastic; my worth had been proven. Afterwards I was soon given much more slack to work at my own pace with my own method. A mutual trust had been established between myself and my superiors and co-workers at Impact Hub.
Now, the goals have extended beyond event photography and short documentary-style video. My last video was a short spurt of live-action animation set to classic American bebop, and a two-month project that I’ve been working on is slowly coming to fruition. The latter is a very cross-cultural project, which in itself epitomizes what Impact Hub is all about. A 60-second long animated promotional video describing what happens and what one can do at Impact Hub isn’t too much of a burden to take on, but to make it bilingual is something that I can safely say I’ve never done before. The translation into Japanese was a challenge twofold: firstly, the meaning needs to stay approximately the same, with connotations and conversational tone in mind. Secondly, the video has a very distinct flow and rhythm – things that occasionally need to be tweaked when switching the tongue from English to Japanese. Overall, I’m very pleased with how it has turned out – last week I received some excellent feedback, and soon I will settle down to knock it out and hopefully create something that they can use for a long time ahead. If I can leave a legacy somewhere in Kyoto, using my creative skills to make a difference is something I’m definitely proud of.