Saturday, June 25, 2011

Running to Help Japan: I Did It!

Long story short, "I did it!" Today was the big day for Running to Help Japan. Today was my 60km run. I completed the entire 60 kilometers in 6:38:55.

This was easily the most difficult thing I have ever done. i have never experienced so much pain or emotion doing something. Now, I have heat rash on my feet, an amazing sunburn (I applied sunscreen several times) and VERY sore legs.

I can't wait to go to bed early tonight.

Tomorrow, I will write a detailed run report and tell you guys all a lot more. Now, I sleep!

I dedicate this to everyone who supported me through this journey!

What's next?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Running to Help Japan: Where I'll run

Here it is folks. My “Running to Help Japan” 60k route this Saturday. I’ll be running this 20km loop three times. I know this area very well since these are regular training areas for me. I think it’s best to stick close to home and run in familiar territory.
Aside from the bridge between Port Island and Kobe Airport Island, it is a pretty flat course.

I’ll start at about 5-5:30am to try to beat some of the heat. Unfortunately, it has been very humid here this week. I’ll have to be very aware of my hydration and make sure I’m getting enough liquid.

Here are some maps of my route:

Remember to follow me on twitter that day. That is how I will be making my live updates. Also, since I am using the Runmeter iPhone app to track my run, when you tweet me a message, a voice reads it to me. That’s great motivation.

Donate to Running to Help Japan below:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Japanese Booze Shops and Fast Shoes

I went for a run this morning in my new shiny and fast shoes. While out on the road, I felt inspired. I shot three video blogs and put them on my "jlandkev" You Tube channel.

Here they are:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Perspectives: Where I was and where I'm going

I actually have a little free time this evening to write (I actually starting writing this post last week) so I decided to respond to my friend Dimitri. He wrote a recent blog post called Perspectives. He asked the question, where were you one, five, ten years ago? Where might we be one, five, ten years from now?

Here is my perspective:

- 10 years ago: I was living in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. I was recently graduated from a technical school program in 3D graphics and electronic game design. I was working as a junior 3D modeler and texture artist at a small game development studio. My job was exciting and stressful at the same time. I enjoyed many aspects of it, but was longing for travel and a life filled with a little more adventure. I was contemplating some sort of big change. I was searching websites and investigating the option of getting a tech job overseas, maybe Ireland.

- 5 years ago: I was living and working in Busan, South Korea as a teacher at a large school chain called CDI. I had a wonderful girlfriend who I met in Busan, but wasn’t Korean. She was a Japanese woman from Osaka. We were pretty serious and talking about a future together. I had also been accepted into a teacher education program at the University of Ottawa in Canada. I was looking forward to starting there the following year.

- 1 year ago: I had finished school in Canada and was a full-fledged teacher. I was starting my third year at a school in Kobe, Japan where I was living. The Japanese woman I was dating in Korea was now my wife and we were just weeks away from expecting our first child. Life was interesting and about to get more interesting!

- Today: I still live in Kobe, Japan with my wife and a cute little son who is about to turn one! I still work at the same school teaching children and have learned a lot about fatherhood. Like all new parents, my life has completely changed. I also have a new passion. I have combined running with charity and spend the time I used to on You Tube video blogging, on raising awareness and trying to raise funds for Save the Children Japan. I also plan to branch out and do even more charity work.

- 1 year later: Not sure about that. I may be preparing for my return to Canada. My teaching career in Canada is calling me. I could possibly be in the midst of moving and relocation preparations. Then again, maybe not!

- 5 years later: I will be living in Canada with my family. We will be living in our first house and my son will enjoy running around in the backyard. I will be using my teaching talents and abilities to help young learners in my own country and working hard to run and help various charitable organizations. I will also be preparing to head to the Sahara Desert in Morrocco to run the Marathon des Sables for the first time!

- 10 years later: I will be taking a leave of absence from my teaching job back home to spend a couple of years working at a large international school in Japan again. My children will be enrolled in the public school system here for a few years to help them improve their Japanese and get in touch with their Japanese culture!

You can follow me on Twitter: @jlandkev

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Running to Help Japan(走って日本を助ける)

私は、神戸在住のカナダ人教師のケヴィン オーシェイといいます。今年3月11日に東北地方をおそった地震、津波、原子力発電所の災害は本当に悲劇でした。この災害の後、私は何か手助けしたいと思いました。そこで、走る事に貪欲な一人のランナーとして、私は「走って日本を助ける」ことを決心しました。2011年の間に、募金団体『セーブ ザ チルドレン ジャパン(東北地方の子供たちの支援活動を行っています)』への募金を募るためにいくつかのイベントで走ることを計画しています。
6月25日、私は60kmのウルトラマラソンを神戸で走ります。他のイベント同様に『セーブ ザ チルドレン』の募金を募るため今年末に大阪マラソンにも参加する予定です。
あなたも募金をすることで子供たちを助けることができますよ。どんな小さな金額でも結構です。ウェブサイト「Running to Help Japan(走って日本を助ける)」のベージ下から募金団体へアクセスできます。


My name is Kevin O'Shea and I am a Canadian teacher living in Kobe, Japan. The March 11th earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster were a true tragedy. After this happened, I wanted to do something to help. An avid runner, I have decided to create "Running to help Japan." Throughout 2011, I plan to run in several events in order to raise money for Save the Children Japan and their work with children in the Tohuko region.

On June 25th, I will run a 60km ultra marathon in Kobe, Japan. Later this year I will be running the Osaka Marathon as well as other events in order to raise funds for Save the Children.

You can help by making a donation. Any amount helps. You can visit the Running to Help sponsor page below and donate:

Thank you

Running to Help Japan BLOG!

Follow me on Twitter: @jlandkev

Donate to Running to Help Japan here:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Saturday, June 4, 2011


#quakebook featuring Scala & Kolacny Brothers and Kings of Leon from Quakebook on Vimeo.

Angry Foreigners in Korea and Japan

This afternoon I read an article on CNNgo called “12 Rules for Expat Life in Korea.” The link was sent to me by my friend in Tokyo, Hikosaemon, a long time resident of Japan and blogger, who was curious about my thoughts on the topic.

For those of you familiar with my blog, previous to coming to Japan, I lived in South Korea for more than five years.

I have to admit that the article did have a lot of truth to it, and was a bit of a laugh since I had experienced some of the things mentioned. I also have to admit that I found a slight feeling of tongue and cheek “bitterness” to it. That was also something I can relate to in a way.

I want to delve a little bit into the world of the “bitter foreigner.” An entire book probably wouldn’t be able to properly discuss this topic, but I’m going to scratch the surface a little in this post.

After my 5 plus years as a teacher in Korea, I left with a chip on my shoulder (I’m not proud to say that.). There were many reasons I left Korea with a less than positive feeling about the country in my mind. In the same way Korean people (or Japanese for that matter) feel negative feelings when they see a group of drunken English teachers acting like jackasses on a train late at night, I had too many run ins with ill-mannered, drunken old Korean guys. I had more than one employer short change me on pay and basically, should have just moved on a little sooner than I did.

There are many people who move to Asia with great expectations only to become jaded and angry. The reasons are varied and often there are many. Some people are screwed over by shady employers. Some are screwed over in the romance department (something that happens in every country and culture). Some don’t like the food. Some don’t like the cultural belief systems. Some are close-minded. Some have serious inferiority complexes and need someone to blame for their own issues or simply to look down upon. Some angry foreigners are people who simply should have never left their small little hometown in their native country.

During my first year in Korea, a period of time when I was simply in love with the culture and everything it had to offer, I had two young Canadian women in my Tae Kwon Do class. After only being in Korea for a month or two, they hated everything. They complained about the language, the smell of kimchi, the fact that they could not buy Kraft Peanut Butter (which I love btw) and anything else you can imagine. They were angry from day one! Those two ladies were a prime example of people who just aren’t cut out for life abroad. I’m sure that they would be angry in any other country that wasn’t Canada. To be honest, they probably wouldn’t be happy with life in Canada either!

Some foreigners get bitter about life in a place like Korea or Japan over time. They start off happy. They love everything about the place for a few years, but begin to grow cynical over time. They begin to spend more time bitching about the place they are in than simply living life. Often, groups of like-minded foreigners get together and spew negative energy (birds of a feather tend to flock together). Sadly, those sitting around them in various bars, coffee shops and restaurants (Korean and Japanese people) can often understand some of what they are saying. It simply paints a very negative image in the locals’ minds about foreigners and their opinions.

Often, once people form negative opinions about the place they now work and live, they share it. People tend to blog about it. The most negative people tend to scurry around in the comments sections of online newspapers and forums of major English teaching job sites. From time to time those angry people will draw the attention of local netizens, which leads to online flame wars.

Please don’t think that all expats living in Korea of Japan are negative. That is by no means the case. I suppose the reality is that the negative people tend to be the loudest. I was that way too, once upon a time. When you have a chip on your shoulder or are angry, you really want people to know about it. When you are content, you tend to just live life in a happy way. You may not feel the need to climb to the highest mountain and shout about it.

After a few years in Korea I became a pretty negative guy. Now I live in Japan. After a few years here, I am not a negative guy (unless I am sick for too long….that would happen anywhere). There are many reasons why I think things are different. I’m not going to compare and contrast the two countries and use that as a reason. I think there are some other very basic personal reasons why I am not a bitter foreigner.

1. When I lived in Korea I was a single guy. Now I am happily married to a wonderful woman and have a family. I have more important things to think about than bitching about insignificant aspects of life.

2. I am a “family man” in the true sense of the term. I rush home every night after work to have dinner with my wife, play with my son, give him a bath and help put him to bed. I no longer spend my free time in pubs and bars complaining about stuff with fellow foreigners.

3. I run marathons (literally). My hobby of long distance running means that I spend a lot of my free time running and focusing on running goals. Those are all positive things. Running brings joy to my life. I didn’t really run in Korea. I wish I did. I probably would have been a happier expat!

4. My job. Although not perfect (is there such a thing?), my job challenges my skill set as an educator. My jobs in Korea didn’t. Simply put, I am busier and more challenged.

5. My wife is Japanese (and I live in Japan) and she helps me a lot with the day-to-day life things that I wasn’t able to do by myself when I lived in Korea. (i.e. filling out tax forms, ordering things online).

6. I spend more time with local people (Japanese) than foreigners. I’m not one of these “I’m better than other foreigners cause I hang out with Japanese people all the time idiots! Not at all). I sort of wish I had more foreign amigos. I just tend to spend more time with my wife, her family and friends. I also have a neighbor who is a runner.

7. Charity work. For the first time in my life, I started doing some serious charity work. I have combined my hobbies of running and blogging to create the Running to Help Japan project. I am training hard to raise money for Save the Children Japan and their earthquake/tsunami relief efforts.

8. I have no time to be bitter. After reading 1 though 7, you can see that I’m pretty busy! I don’t have time to be negative.

Not all people who come to Korea or Japan become negative. Some do however. Those negative people can be pretty nasty to be around. They are the ultimate buzz killers. My suggestion, if you are around them, change company. Hang out with people who are more positive. Hang out with more local people (indigenous persons). Maybe you can find some positive hobbies. Start video blogging, playing some sort of sport. Cooking and art classes are always a great thing to do and they are easy to arrange. I’ve met people who have learned to play instruments or even get their masters degree in their free time while living in Korea and Japan.

Sometimes it can be hard to live and work so far away from your home. At times it can feel like and adventure and at times it can be a true test of one’s patience. You can make it a positive expeience though. Sometimes the positives come easy, but other times, you just have to work a little harder!

You can follow this "Non-Angry" foreigner on Twitter: @jlandkev

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets....Oh Canada!

Is this a Japan-centric blog? Maybe. I do afterall live in Japan so I suppose I write a lot about the place I live in.

If I lived in Korea, this would be a Korea-centric blog.

When I make the move back to Canada, it will be a Canada-centric blog. Today, although I am in Japan, I want to make this post a little….no wait!!!! I want to make it VERY Canada–centric.

This is Canada’s day for hockey. In 1996, Canada lost the Winnipeg Jets. It hs been the dream of thousands of Canadians that the city of Winnipeg would someday acquire a new NHL hockey franchise. Today that happened. True North Sports Entertainment, bought the Atlanta Thrashers franchise and will be moving them north to Winnipeg for the 2011-2012 season. I am definitely happy for the fine folks of Manitoba’s largest city.

Now, am I a hard core hockey fan? No I am not. Do I enjoy hockey? You better believe it! Am I happy that Canada now has a 7th NHL hockey francise? You better believe it.

Also, the Vancouver Canucks, another one of Canada's few NHL teams begin playing the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals this week. have I always been a Canucks's fan? No I haven't. Am I happy there is a Canadian team in the Stanley Cup finals? You bet your ASS I am!

Go Canucks Go!!!

Go Jets Go!!!