Some part of my journey 2/2
Even though I decided to go to a graduate school, I still had to earn bread and butter. I chose to go to Waseda University, as it had full-time evening class, and it was located in the middle of the city, which enabled me to combine work and schooling. Besides, Waseda was a familiar place for me because the office of Amnesty International was nearby and also there was Esperanto Society which I was a member. I chose Economic Sociology for two reasons. The first reason was that it was the time when the real problem derived from long-term economic recession was emerging. Every year from 1997 on, more than 30,000 people have committed suicide, and economic reason was sharing a lot of the cases. It still continues up until now in 2008. I thought that I should have learned about the system ruled by political economy. It could be done by studying the history of Japanese economic and social policies, and their consequence starting from the high growth period, bubble economy and its burst. The second reason was, I experienced working full-time for financial institutions both in Japan and in the Netherlands, so I wanted to compare the labour policies of these countries. I thought that these policies might have some connection with that time Dutch economic success and Japanese failure in a broader sense.
In general, Dutch seemed happier and more relaxed than Japanese at work. Dutch worked much less hours and had much more hours for themselves, just like I mentioned in my previous blog. Why did they still have economic success in late 1990s? Even though some good luck might have been there, I think that it is because the overall political system faces towards people in the Netherlands, rather than towards large corporations and bureaucrats just like in Japan. After all, people are the most important resource in a country. Therefore, in the long run, such a system does work for success as a country and most of all, it contributes people’s happiness. And when people are happier and have more time, security and energy, naturally there is more potential that they are able to think of others and to contribute others well-beings (yes, I am a believer of human’s inherent goodness). This was my ultimate theory which would not appear in my master thesis.
In order to investigate it more, and also to learn from someone I admired for a long time, I quit my job and entered into a grad school of University of Amsterdam. This university just invited a famous journalist Karel van Wolferen as a professor. He is known as an author of The Enigma of Japanese Power, the bible for people who wants to know Japan from political point of view. I spent 14 months in Amsterdam as a student, flew back to Japan, found a job again in Tokyo and finished my thesis in Waseda.
As soon as I got MA, my desire to study art became irresistible. Before going to the grad school, I promised myself that I would definitely start going to an art school. But to tell the truth, during my MA course, I considered giving it up again and again thinking that it was not realistic, and I was just having a silly childhood dream. In any case, while I was still working, I started taking short weekend courses of various mediums. Then I came across to glass making. I never imagined that I could actually make a glass object myself. I was completely fascinated by the potential of the glass as a medium to express myself – glass is such a fragile, difficult and beautiful material. After all, I stopped working and attended a full-time glass course for a year in Tokyo. This is how I finally started making glass and now I am learning at School of Art in Australian National University. It had been through a lot of twists and turns, but I have been happy to do something I always wanted to do… to devote myself in art making.