My friend Mieko told me I had to get in touch with Eiji my last few weeks in Japan. He lives in Tokyo and was a boxer who took his fight outside the ring, and into classrooms as a motivational speaker for kids both domestic and abroad.
During my last two weeks in Japan, based out of Tokyo, I linked with Eiji and his family for lunch and had a conversation with a man I consider a gentle giant. For years, Eiji transitioned from boxing into a believer in dreams. He started a YouTube channel that was based around interviewing people around the world, but especially in Japan, on what it's like to live a life following your dreams, and seeing them come true. He was intrigued by my story, and along with an interview in the hotel lobby, he also offered over being my book agent rep in Tokyo once my memoir is finished. He'd get it translated and all. Such a giving person, not looking for anything in return.
What is so important about people like Eiji, in Japan, is that Japan is a country built on sameness.
Their saying "The nail that sticks out farthest, is the one that can get beat down" encapsulates this idea.
I saw it a lot in the school system when I worked there. It broke my heart, but was something as a 'gaijin' I had to just swallow and accept. This is not my home country. But for Eiji, it is. He knows what it's like in this country and for these students, and he has a voice they understand and would listen to. For that, I've always respected his plight.
The above article, for Peacemakers News, is a commemoration of not only the 6 month mark of the tsunami and earthquake on 3/11, but also our 10 year anniversary of 9/11, as well. Eiji was noted for traveling to NYC on 9/11/01 and helping to find survivors of the tragedy. Since then his message has been to bring love and peace, not war.
Glad to have people like this in my corner, in Nippon.