Mr. Lancaster

Mr. Lancaster

(Photo credit: Mr. Lancaster)

Eimi S. ('22), Editor of HOSH

“I’ve done many different jobs while I’ve been in Japan. When I came to Japan, there were very few foreigners. So at that time, I started teaching English, but also did modeling and acting in films —  not much, and usually not a speaking part, but somewhere in the background doing extra work. One acting job was particularly interesting. I was sent to Kagoshima to be a terrorist in a police drama. I had two words to speak: “Kill them.” But it was a great job! They put me in a helicopter and I was throwing bombs at the police from the helicopter. And the helicopter pilot had a great time because he was usually moving a businessman from one place to another, but he could really play around and throw the helicopter around. That was “Seibu Keisatsu” in Kyushu. 

I’ve been working at ISSH since 2004. Strangely, I got the photography job here because of my computer skills. A long time ago, I got into computers because a good friend of mine was into computers, and we started selling computers with 640K memory and 20MB hard disks. They were quite powerful and quick for the time. That’s when I got into computers — this was before Windows. We used to sell to foreign companies. Of course I had my own computer. Later with Windows and Photoshop, I got into digitizing photographs, and that’s how I got the job here because they were looking for somebody who could provide photographs in a digital format, and I could. That’s how I got the job. 

I’ve always enjoyed taking photographs. When I came to Japan, I bought my first good camera. I got more lenses, I took photographs, and went traveling. I did both black and white and color. I used to do black and white printing but gave that up a long long time ago. I enjoy taking the photographs here. Another one of my jobs has been teaching English in Japanese universities, and coming here after teaching in a Japanese university is so refreshing, since no one here is afraid to speak to me. A lot of Japanese university students learned to be afraid of teachers at high school.

I love cooking, I do lots of cooking. I like to use herbs. I love Thai food in particular, and chilies. I like to grow what I can’t get. A long time ago it used to be much harder to get foreign food in Japan. Basil was hard to get. You had to go to a flower shop to find chilis. Things like that, you can get them anywhere now, at any supermarket. So Japan’s changed like that. 

Anyway, I started growing chilies. The first time I got chilies I saw some growing in a farm and stopped and said “Can I buy some?” And the guy started cutting the roots off, and I said “No, no, leave the roots on, you don’t have to do that,” and I planted them in the garden. 

I found the Indian mothers particularly friendly. They like me because I give them chilies. These chilies were grown from chilies a friend of mine I’ve known since I was a child gave me. He bought them for me when he was traveling around the world collecting plants and seeds, which he sells in Britain. He bought these chilies in Sikkim, northern India, gave them to me, and I started growing them. I bring in other things, too. Mrs. Bowler was from Vietnam, so I used to regularly give her mint because they use mint a lot in cooking in Vietnam.

I’m also caring for kittens. I had cats when I was a child and have had cats for many years in Japan. Two years ago a friend asked me to find a kitten for him. I told my friend I would speak to an old lady who lives nearby. She feeds a colony of stray cats that live around a deserted house, and she said that she would help me find a kitten. I then spoke to my friend and told him I could get him a kitten, but two would be better and easier.

Then more friends asked me for kittens. Just after I picked one up from the old lady who feeds the strays my phone rang. It was a friend who had found a dumped kitten at the nearby Namihana Station. I could hear a kitten meowing in the background. I felt I had to pick that one up, too. That kitten was dumped, not a true stray cat. That kitten was called Nami after the station where he was dumped.

It is hard to find homes for all the kittens. Now at home I have two that have found but not yet gone to new homes. I also have one I rescued after he had been attacked by a crow and lost an eye. Luckily I could catch him the day he was injured, and he has made a good recovery.

I expect there will be more kittens looking for new homes around Golden Week.” — Mr. Lancaster