By Rachael Ragalye
My second home was the theatre and dance departments when I was a Williams School student. For the majority of my high school career, my ambition in life was to play Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. I took voice lessons at Connecticut College, danced in Compchorea, and performed in dramas, musicals, and Winterfests. So it came as a shock to many when I made the decision to study Asian studies (and eventually anthropology) with the intention of studying abroad in Japan, instead of pursuing the arts. To be honest, it was a hard decision. It was hard to imagine a life without performing. But it turns out I still get to use the skills that I learned from the stage at my job at Shobunsha Publications in Tokyo. Shobunsha Publications is one of the best-known publishers of guidebooks and maps in Japan. Here I am responsible for creating English language content for DiGJAPAN!, Shobunsha’s web-based travel resource for foreign tourists. The daily responsibilities of the job include writing, translating, editing text and images, and analyzing the markets that make up the English speaking world. The best part of my job, though, is covering events or introducing restaurants, tourist destinations, and cultural experiences. Sometimes I play the role of the camera person, but more often I’m in front of the lens as the model.
What I learned from my time in the Williams theatre and dance departments is my foundation for these shoots. Site specific dance has had a lasting impact on the way I view spaces and my awareness of how my body occupies that space. This is a huge help for making the most of the unique features of shoot locations. The Williams School theatre and dance experience also helped me become more confident. I am okay with being “out there” and vulnerable. I also learned to embrace looking a little silly from time to time. Because of this, I can relax and focus on showing my readers the great things you can do in Japan.
The number of U.S. tourists to Japan broke one million for the first time in 2015. I hope that 2016 sees an even larger increase, and even more so, that many Williams alumni come visit Tokyo!
DiGJAPAN! Website: https://digjapan.travel/en/
Cosplay Rurouni Kenshin 1 and 2: Dressed as the character Ruroni Kenshin at a cosplay experience in Akihabara, Tokyo.
House of Light: At "The House of Light" by American artist James Turrell during the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale in Niigata Prefecture.
Kayaba Coffee: At Kayaba Coffee, a local landmark coffee shop in the Nezu area of Tokyo.