I returned to the UK a week ago, having spent four weeks in Japan doing preliminary fieldwork. It was a pilot observation in my home country, but still, it was an amazing experience.
Since I had worked on literature reviews on Japanese issues while living in the UK, every interaction, every event and news article, everything was significant in Japan. When I was in ‘the field’, I had a strong feeling of ‘who I am’, even though I was in a location with which I should be familiar. I often came to a point where I recognised myself as an ‘outsider’ in the field.
During my fieldwork, my sanctuary (a place away from the research site and where I can take a break!) was my family and friends. I really needed a period of time not thinking about my data and research.
The hardest part of this preliminary fieldwork was explaining the research to anyone who could be a research participant. As other researchers have often said before, this was the most unpleasant feeling I had in the field, because I could not hide my intention in speaking with each person: ‘I want your data’. I have seen advice to ‘start doing what you do in any non-research situation, and show interest in them quite simply.’ I tried to make conversation with them on non-research topics, but it was really hard to continue with it. It was partly because the professionals were busy and I needed to rush in order to include everything that I needed to explain, and partly due to my inadequate fieldwork skills.
Soon after I returned to England, I organised my field notes and some documents that people had given me. I also worked on my documents for the probation meeting in two weeks’ time.
On the day I left Japan, I ate Katsudon, which is a popular Japanese food. There is a tradition that Japanese students eat Katsudon before an important exam, because ‘Katsu’ is a homophone of the verb Katsu which means ‘to win’ or ‘to be victorious’.
My achievements in Week 35:
- Finished writing my field notes and all my drafts for the probation review, and submitted them!
Goals for Week 36:
- Have some proper rest
- Prepare my presentation and questions for the probation review