My passion for Japan would have to start the late 90s when I discovered anime on TV. I can’t begin to guess how much money I’ve lost on VHS tapes over the years. I was your typical US anime-geek I suppose, with posters on the walls and everything. Though the country Japan itself still didn’t really exist for me.

In Spring of 2001 I discovered by accident Japanese music, anime soundtracks to be exact. By chance I got my hands on the AKIRA soundtrack. Even though it’s far away from pop, I really liked it and it made me curious to find out more of the music scene. So I started getting more music and started listening more and more to it, gradually favoring it to US music. This was all before Japanese 101, so everything spoken went right over my head; I never had a chance. I enjoyed the music at that time more than anything else.

Fall of 2001 I began taking formal Japanese training with Japanese 101. By this time I had started a small internet-only radio station named animeFM. The station was being broadcast from home on an old computer and, at this time, with about a small handful of anime soundtracks. I remember just sitting there on the chair in front of the monitor and just listening to the music for hours on end—still the words were foreign to me.

animeFM broadcast 247 from my bedroom. There were listeners primarily from the US but there were plenty from EU and Asia too. The site was tailored for non-Japanese speaking audiences, for people like myself who enjoy Japanese music but don’t have access to it. animeFM played everything available: pop, rap, r&b, soul, some enka, dance, rock; you name it, I had it on the playlist. The station was so versatile and varied that by its ending days I was able to broadcast more than two weeks non-stop and not repeat the same song twice (hundreds of albums!). It was absolutely insane how much I lived through Japanese music.

The final song played on the air on December 29, 2003 was X JAPAN’s “The Last Song.” If you know this song or the band, you’ll understand my choice for the song as animeFM’s final. Following the eleven-minute song, I went on the air live and said my own final words and pushed button to end the broadcast. Shutting down was not my idea and I was strongly against it, but I was forced into a financial situation that made continuing the donation-based station impossible.

In 2004, I didn’t touch the music library; I never listened to a single song. Not a single song of the same library which I seemingly couldn’t live without previously. In 2005, the same until last night. After nearly two years, I finally pulled up the music library and spent a few hours listening to some of my favorite bands. ちょっと泣いてしまった、思い出(-_-)

This semester has been my strongest with Japanese in my sights. I think it’s given me strength in more than some ways. As each week passes I feel like I gain more confidence in my ability to survive in Japan… we’ll see though. My worry right now is that the semester has ended, no more JNS every week. I’m already beginning to miss it.