Why do I have a page dedicated to Japan, you ask? Well, Japan is such a part of my life, that I felt it warranted its own space.  If you haven't noticed already, it shows in my work here and there.  

Life and Work
From a young age, I have always been interested in foreign languages and writing systems. I dabbled in French, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Hebrew and Arabic, but I became particularly enamored with the country and language of Japan during an exchange trip in Junior High. This was the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the art, language, and people of Japan. 
I majored in Japanese at the University of Washington, and then spent 3 years living in Japan on the JET Program as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher), {By the way, if you have a bachelor's degree, and any interest in Japan... DO IT! It is life changing.} While there, I studied hard, and with a little luck, I passed the highest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency test. Though I should probably consider myself bilingual, I feel I still have a long way to go to wear that badge, and so I continue to study, with the hopes of one day passing what is arguably the most difficult test in Japan, Kanji Kentei Level 1.  Maybe then I will feel confident enough to call myself fluent. That might take me a couple more decades...
I also spent six years of my life as the operations coordinator of the Japanese Agricultural Exchange Program. That was a unique experience that can't really be compared to anything. I met loads of interesting people, got to travel all over the United States, learned a bit about farming, and was able to use my Japanese skills as a bonus.
My wife happens to be Japanese as well, and an artist on top of that. (Check out her work at YasukoNakamura.com, as she is quite talented!) We visit Japan often, and I have always considered it my second home. 

Artistic Influences
It is not difficult to find much of my artwork has roots in Japanese art and Manga. Some of my favorites are Otomo Katsuhiro's Akira, Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Nagano's Five Star Stories, along with artists Yoshitaka Amano, Akihiro Yamada, Katsuya Terada, Yoshitoshi Abe, Takato Yamamoto, Sculptors Yasushi Nirasawa, Kow Yokoyama, Kouji Tajima, Photographer Hiroshi Nonami, and Nihonga artists Toshio Tabuchi, Chinami Nakajima, Katsura Joutou, and Yasunari Ikenaga among others. I have a small library of Japanese books and Manga that I peruse for inspiration often, and whenever I have a chance to visit Japan, I try to hit up Kanda-Jimbocho, the used book district to find something new and interesting to add to my collection.
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