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Monday, January 2, 2017


Okay... I admit it... I'm still in vacation mode. It's 10:46PM on Sunday evening and I just watched finished watching Sherlock on PBS... the first episode of Season 4... and the last of three episodes of the series.

I haven't written a blog yet... tick-tock. I wouldn't want to get FFF all riled up that she should think I need avenging or revenging... so... what to write?

You know... my best friend in Japan from 1990-1993 was Matthew Hall.

He was from Binghamton, NY when he arrived on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme... someone who wanted to be in Japan... someone who figured he had a purpose there.

I did not... it was supposed to be one and done for me. One year of an experience I didn't want and didn't need, or so I thought... but, my father convince me to go when I tried to back out at the last minute... thanks, dad.

On our third evening in Tokyo before they shipped us out to our respective prefectures and cities, towns and hamlets... all of us new AETs (assistant English teachers) were dragged out to a dinner by Peter, Mary and (fortunately not Paul), Catherine - three people who had already been in Japan for at least the year previous. I can't recall now if any of them were starting their second year or their then-maximum third year on the JET Programme. Sorry.

They took us to a Japanese restaurant where we sat on pillows thrown upon the ground around a low, ankle-high table filled with various dishes of Japanese food I had never seen before... and beer... Kirin Lager beer. That I can remember.

Matthew sat beside me, Jeff Seaman across from me, and kitty-cornered to my right at the end of the table, a pretty brunette whose name I had no clue to.

All of us drinking heavily... probably more than anyone else at the table... me probably more than anyone else. I was a journalist... and dammit, no one out drinks a journalist.

Matt and Jeff (I never ever called Matthew "Matt")... but the names always sounded like those comic book characters "Mutt & Jeff" to my adolescent mind... we talked and laughed and to be honest, none of us paid any nevermind to that quiet brunette who never seemed to speak or interject with a comment... I only noticed that she was keeping up with us boys.

I'll skip ahead, but the group of us who went out that evening, ended up at the Java Jive dance club in Roppongi in Tokyo... and after the pretty brunette grabbed my hand and waltzed into the club with me, I lost track of Matthew and Jeff... and spent the rest of the evening drinking and dancing with her... making out on the dance floor, in the alley and then taking a taxi back to the Keio Plaza Hotel where we were all staying.

While Ashley would end up being my girlfriend for that first year, by the end of that night I had no idea what her name was... which led to some amusing fun the next morning when I asked Matthew for some help... I think he knew, but he wasn't telling me.

Bugger. But... it all worked out... or it didn't work out. Regular readers know the whole story - as depressingly interesting as it is/was.

Anyhow... Matthew and I ended up living in Ohtawara-shi in Tochigi-ken. He would teach at the junior high schools on the outskirts of our small city, and me teaching at the seven junior high schools IN the city. Ashley... she lived in the town next door, but would teach at the Ohtawara Boys High School...

My apartment was huge... three bedrooms and an LDK (Living room-dining room-kitchen), large western bathroom and two balconies. I had carpeting, a comfy chair and sofa and even a two-seat dining table.

I also had a bilingual television... some television stations in Japan would broadcast their television shows in Japanese, in English and if you set the controls, in both languages... though why anyone would do that is beyond my comprehension.

The shows that would be broadcast with the additional English signal were western television programs, like Baywatch, The Incredible Hulk and, wait for it... Sherlock Holmes...

I absolutely loved the 1984 ITV British show starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes ... as did Matthew... who was and is, a true Sherlock Holmes fan. He told me that the series we were watching was putting out episodes that very, very closely matched the original stories of Sherlock Holmes as penned by creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

To prove it, Matthew lent me his two large omnibus collections of the complete works of Sherlock Holmes stories.

Believe it or not, this was the only image I could find on-line showing Matthew's copies... Yes, I can still recall exactly what they looked like 26-years later!
I read them... I read them again... and returned them when I was done, none the worse for wear, as I respect books to the point where I would never fold a page or dog-ear a cover or break a spine...

Matthew gave me the greatest gift one person can give to another... a book... and a chance to learn to love the writings of a fellow writer.

See that photo above... that's 221B... the address of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the Doyle books... and it's also somewhere in Tokyo that Matthew visited last month... unable to resist the coincidence of seeing the same address in Japan...

Matthew, my friend... always good to talk... but also good for me to recall why we talk.

Andrew Joseph
PS: To celebrate the new year when I was wearing two-day old clothes, and one-day underwear and a three-day growth of facial hair, on the 1st day of 2017 I awoke, shaved, showered, and put on clean clothes. Who says I don't know how to ring in the new year?
Everybody, I suppose... I don't do resolutions... well, maybe I'll give up Lent this year... but I might also sell off my 35,000 piece comic book collection. There... it's in writing now...
Oh yeah... and maybe I'll find the time to finish off that book I've been working on for the past six years... though I fear some of you might have read some of it already.
Crickey... I've also got baseball to (head) coach... four days a week.... and hockey (assistant coach) one day a week. For the hockey, I open and close the door to the bench and tell everyone they are playing great. That one's easy... the baseball one... this will be an interesting challenge.
It's 11:33... spending 10 minutes looking for the book photo.


  1. Great article (selfishly saying that given my name showed up a lot!). FYI, Bar Sherlock can be discovered online here:

    1. Hey... you instilled a love of Sherlock Holmes in me. Seemed appropriate to mention it. Do you still have those books, BTW?