scrapbooking, japan, jet program

The Title Page

The “title page” – the first page I’m going to put into my scrapbook. A couple days ago I pulled out a couple of pieces of “stuff” (see “stuff” pictures in previous post), chose a few (hopefully) not overtly cheesy stickers and glue-ins and got to work on my first ever scrapbook page.

While I worked, I thought a lot about what it is that I want to do with this blog. If you read my last post (The Project), I basically laid out what my crafting plans were – to take 4 years of random memorabilia and photos that I collected while working in Japan and turn it into a book that doesn’t look like a 10 year old made it. As I’ve never scrapbooked before, that really waits to be seen. As for the blog portion of the project, I initially thought of it as a way for me to stay committed while working on the book and to share my experiences with other people.

But, what it really boils down to is that I want to stay connected to Japan. Japan has been my home for the past four years. All together, I’ve lived in the country for 8 1/2 years. At 26, that’s roughly 33% of my life. Okay, so that’s actually less time then I thought. But, regardless of the percent of my life that I’ve spent living in Japan I still consider Japan my second home, if not my first. I hope that I can convey my passion for Japan through these blogs and that I can inspire someone to pursue their own travel, study, or work goals abroad – whether it be in Japan or one of the hundreds of other amazing countries around the world.

That being said, I guess I should tell you about my vision for the book and what kind of materials I bought.

I wanted something really simple. I’m a big fan of simple – maybe you’ve noticed from the design and theme of this blog. Although, I’m also new to this web “design” thing so that’s probably (no, most definitely) a contributing factor to the simplicity. I was also really inspired by smashbooks, something I’ve seen referred to as the “un-scrapbook” in various places on the internet. That’s the feel that I’m going for – not planned to perfection, but moments of sudden inspiration and a little coloring outside of the lines.

I spent about a week looking at different types of scrapbooks and journals on the internet trying to figure out what would work best for me. I probably spent the most time on pinterest and instagram. I’m obsessed with instagram, by the way. I could spend all day on there looking at pictures of yoga poses, variations of avocado toast, and different ways to eat peanut butter. Anyway, here’s a couple of “features” that I decided I wanted my scrapbook/journal to have:

  1. A ring bound system: I wanted the ability to move pages around and adjust the flow of the book as the project developed. I especially didn’t want to have to make the pages in any specific order. I wanted to be prepared for the inevitable day that I’d feel inspired to work on a page from 2015 when still stuck pushing through the winter of 2011-2012 (and let me tell you, that was a cold, hard winter).
  2. Pages made from card stock or thick paper: This will probably highlight how inexperienced I am at scrapbooking, but I didn’t want to buy one of those scrapbooks or scrapbooking kits that come with pages with clear, plastic covers. I know, I know…the plastic is there to protect the page and preserve your memories, but I just don’t like how it looks. Yes, I am choosing appearance over practicality.

So, with those two “rules” in mind, last Thursday I wandered up and down the aisles of Michael’s trying to find the book that best matched my vision.

I was particularly tempted by a large journal/sketchbook with heavy, cream colored pages and a paper-bag brown cover with an elastic enclosure to keep it shut. I almost bought it, but it violated rule #1, which really was the most important rule. I ended up going with a smaller, 4 ringed binder by Recollections. It was actually marketed to be sold with planner inserts, but I thought it would work just the same. For the paper, I chose light brown card stock. I bought it in regular letter size so I’ll have to cut each piece in half to make it fit in to the binder, but the extra work will be worth it to me if I can achieve the look that I’m going for. I’m going to insert a picture here, but unfortunately it’s not the best quality. I’m having computer issues today and had to settle for iPhone pictures.

Recollections Binder
Recollections Binder

I also picked up some scrapbooking stickers and glue-ins while I was at Michaels. I got a couple of different brands – Paper House, Jolee’s By You, and Recollections. Everything else I need I found at home – some colored card stock paper, a paper cutter, markers, stencils, scissors, and glue (#hasamiandglue).

Stickers & Glue-ins
Stickers & Glue-ins

では (dewa, well then), now that you know what I’m working with – let’s get into the stuff. Here’s what I’m cutting and pasting onto the title page of Hasami & Glue:

  1. Map of Japan from Toyama tourism pamphlet: I found an English-language pamphlet gushing about the many amazing points and places in Toyama Prefecture. I think I received it at Toyama JET Orientation in early August of 2011. That was one of the hottest months of my life. Coming home from the second day of orientation, I found the bike I had ridden to the station to be suddenly and inexplicably unrideable. The chain looked fine and neither tire was flat so I really have no idea what was wrong with it. I ended up pushing the bike home 1.5 miles to my little apartment, arriving coated in a thick layer of Toyama summer sweat. That was back before I starting carrying a towel with me everywhere I went.
  2. JET Program Logo from Tokyo Orientation Booklet: While looking through my stacks of papers I came across my JET Program Tokyo Orientation Booklet from 2011. Yes, even I can’t believe that I held on to it for four years and brought it back to the U.S. with me. Talk about a 懐かしい (なつかしい/natsukashii, familiar, fond, nostalgic) moment. Tokyo Orientation was a blur. I don’t know if that was because of the jet lag or the overwhelming number of new people I met in the short span of 2 1/2 days. The memories that I do have all seem to revolve around eating. I very clearly remember one awkward lunch at a table where no one, including me, could think of anything to say to each other. I also very clearly remember a not-so-awkward lunch where 3 of us placed in completely different regions of Japan hit it off and promised that we would meet up in our respective prefectures (Spoiler: that never happened).
  3. Headshot taken on my first day in Kurobe: Vanity? Not really, I actually don’t really like this picture of me. I was still in my suit that I had put on that morning in Tokyo. I had just gotten my first look at Kurobe after being picked up at Toyama Airport by my supervisor, another BOE employee, and one of the other Kurobe JETs. I needed a picture to register for my alien card at city hall (this was before the new residency card system), so we went to a little photo shop nearby. (Side note: After that day, it took me 3 years to find this place again.)
  4. 富山 (とやま, Toyama) lettering from the Toyama JET Directory 2011-2012: The last piece of “stuff” that I’m adding I cut off the cover of the Toyama JET Directory 2011-2012. Flipping through the directory was a blast from the past. There’s a pretty big turnover every year with the JET Program, it’s the nature of the program. In just the 4 years that I was in the prefecture, the faces and atmosphere of Toyama shape-shifted over and over again.

So, armed with my scrapbooking tools and my random stuff, I put together the first page. Here it is in all its glory:

Completed Title Page
Completed Title Page

I considered (and am still considering, really) adding in some color at the top of the page around the 11-15 stenciling. Probably red or pink. Either referencing the flag of Japan or sakura (cherry blossoms). But, for now I’m happy with what I came up with.

I’m excited to really dig in with my first journaling piece next!

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