About Hibari-sensei's Classroom This blog was formerly titled Gaijin Teacher Otaku, which came from a play I wrote for the Miyagi JET Pantomine called GTO: Great Teacher Olivia, or Gaijin Teacher Otaku. It's a parody of both Japanese dramas and the experiences common to many Assistant Language Teachers in Japan. The titular character is a caricature of the Japanophile in me infused with the optimism and energy of the enthusiastic teacher archetype in anime and dramas.
While in Japan, I discovered that my fellow otaku back home only knew about certain aspects of the culture, like anime and J-pop, whereas many of my fellow gaijin and even Japanese friends were unfamiliar with aspects of certain subcultures, such as visual kei or the maid and butler cafes. The desire to bridge this gap in understanding became the premise for this blog. Therefore, this blog aims to showcase the many contrasting sides of Japanese culture: ancient and new, conventional and bizarre, simple and complex, delicate and rough, cute and scary, transient and enduring.
I decided to change the name of this blog in order to reflect my current self and develop some consistency with the domain name.
About Hibari I'm Taiwanese-American, but there's always been a heavy Japanese influence in my life. I grew up watching anime and eating Pocky, ajitsuke nori, and pretty much anything with anko. Later, I fell in love with J-pop and J-rock, dramas, and street fashion. After spending a week in the countryside through my hometown's Sister Cities exchange program, I began to take interest in the more traditional elements of the culture. I wound up living in the same city and working as an Assistant English Teacher the year after my college graduation. As much as I wanted to stay, I knew that I had to return to the U.S. to pursue my destiny: writing. I created this blog in response to the feeling of being unfinished with my travelogue entries. There was so much I wanted to say about Japan even after I had come home.
The name "Hibari-sensei" came out of a cosplay experience. One day, I overheard my students calling me "Hibari-san", after I showed them pictures of my cosplay of the Katekyo Hitman Reborn! character. When I told this to my friend, she replied, "Shouldn't they have called you sensei?" Yes, they should have, and while I may no longer be a teacher in Japan, there's still a lot you can learn from me.