poniedziałek, 10 grudnia 2018

The biggest adventure of my life - Prelude (Part 1)

Hello!

I hope that this post will be able to make up for a very long time when I didn't post anything. I believe that the story I want to tell you will be so long that I will have to spread it over a few posts. You are probably wondering what happened to me that I will need a few blog entries to describe it? Let me tell you. The biggest adventure of my life has happened. It happened suddenly without any notice. I will not let you wait anymore. Sit comfortably, get a beer and popcorn or any other favourite snack and read. Before I start, I would like to tell you that my original plan was to write everything with all details but now I think that it would be pointless and that I would have to write a small book in order to fit everything there. Also, it's already over eight months after my adventure and my emotions faded out. This is mostly due to a new job, lack of time etc. That is why I will try to tell you the most important things. Let me start...



 It's already over a year since everything has started but I have a feeling like it was yesterday. Last year, in early April, someone from a company called Tele-Search based in London sent me an email and asked me if I would like to participate in a programme called ''Who wants to come to Japan'' broadcasted in TV Tokyo. This programme is about people with interest in Japanese culture. If the producers think that you are interesting and passionate about Japan, then they can invite you to the country of the rising sun for a dream experience and learn more about your hobby. My first thought was that it was a scam because I was receiving a lot of strange emails before. I decided that probably it's not true and I didn't bother to answer it. A few weeks later I received another email from the same company. They asked me if I received their previous message and also explained that they know my website, blog etc. I have realised that they did some research, which meant that maybe their emails were real. I don't think that any scammer or spammer would spend a time on research just to send stupid emails. Anyway, I have answered and everything started.  They asked me to record a short introduction video. I didn't know what was the concept of the show and I didn't know what to think about it. I have prepared the script for my video and tried to record it, but it was very hard. It is different when you have to speak with somebody and when you have to record a proper introduction video. Also, what I didn't realise, Japanese shows are different from any other in the world. here is the video:




We were exchanging emails and then, few weeks or even months later, I've been asked to come to the Hyper Festival to London to record my first interview. I will try to make the whole story shorter, thus I will not get into too much detail. That was a hard time for me and my passion. In that time I have changed my career and I didn't have a time for knives anymore. I was trying to do things, but everything was going so slow, that at some point I gave up. I have stopped taking any orders because it was causing me more stress than joy. All of my friends were pushing me to go to the programme, but I had mixed feelings. I even didn't know if I will get into the programme. I was struggling with my thoughts and the more I was thinking about it the worse it was getting. I know that it may be strange for some of you because usually, people would do everything to be in my place, but I didn't feel right about it. They have found me because of my passion and it would be a big lie if I got into the programme. I can't talk about things if I am not passionate about them. Especially knives. I hope that you know what I mean. Trust me or not, but with the broken heart, I sent them an email, in which I have explained why I can't participate in the show. My fiancee told me that she is respecting my decision, but probably I will regret it. Guess what? I was really regretting that a week after abandoning the programme. Fortunately, they said that this is an ongoing programme and if I ever change my mind I can always come back. That was September 2017 if I remember correctly.

Later on, in December, I thought that I really messed up and that I have lost once in a lifetime occasion. I was thinking about sending them an email, but I wanted to wait a few days more. Then, a few days later, I received an email from the same company. I couldn't believe what I saw. They asked me If I am sure that I don't want to participate in the show. Obviously, without thinking, I said that I really regret what I did and that I really want to take a chance. From now, everything went very fast. That was in the early December 2017. After a few emails, we have arranged the first recording in my home in the UK. A tv crew from Japan came to Leicester for two days. There were two people in the tv crew and the translator. The director - Jo Yoda, Cameraman - Yukichi Yamamoto and the translator - Miyuki Kosuga.

Just before their visit, I've been asked to answer many questions and prepare a few things. This is an example of their list:

  • Show us your knives and sharpening tools, and explain how you use them etc.
  • Demonstrate how to sharpen/polish a Japanese knife
  •  Demonstrate cutting vegetables/fish with the sharpened knife.
  • The team bring an old blunt knife from Japan for you to sharpen. How long do you think this would take?
  • Make a new handle for a knife.
  • You cook some kind of Japanese food using your knife?
  • You invite some friends over to test your knife – e.g. you make a meal together and they cut up some vegetables for you with your knife.
  • Interview with you about your passion for knife-sharpening
I was even asked about more things. As you can see, it was quite a lot to do in only two days. I have decided to prepare properly for that because I wanted to show myself from the best side. I also wanted to make it easier for the tv crew and myself. For example, for the knifemaking part, I have decided to prepare everything in stages, for example,  a knife in three stages: A blank, then recording the grinding process for a few minutes and finally the finished blade. Same with the handle. I made three handles. The first handle was actually made of few pieces of wood glued together. The second one was squared so I could show them only a few minutes of sanding and the third handle was actually a finished product. This way I was able to save myself a lot of time. 

This is the knife I have finished for their visit:






I had a few intensive days of preparation and mess at home. My flat turned into a proper workshop and fortunately for me, my fiancee is tolerating a lot.  The day before recording I had a company Christmas party. I had to go there only for a short moment, but before that, I had a few drinks and then a few at the party itself. I had a little bit too much and it ended with a hangover on the next day. Did it help with stress??? I don't think so. Hehehe. 

We woke up in the morning and were waiting for the tv crew. They had to arrive at 10am. When they arrive I had a quick chat with my translator Miyuki. She said that they want to record a greeting moment. I gave her keys to my block and waited for them. I thought that I am ok, but when I saw a camera from the window I got really stressed. We have recorded a short greeting, introduced ourselves and after that had a nice chat and coffee with the crew. It was quite awkward at the beginning, but later on, I got used to the camera a little bit. They brought two knives from Japan. Obviously both of them in a really bad condition. I've chosen the worst one, which was very rusty Nakiri and I was asked to fix it. They have recorded the whole process. I was stressed about it because usually, I am fixing knives in my free time and I can take my time and focus on what I am doing. I hate when someone is staring at my hands and try to imagine what I felt when three people were staring at me and which were recording me with a big camera. Of course, I had to talk to them at the same time. Talking with them was very unusual for me because the tv crew couldn't speak English at all and everything was translated. Big kudos to Miyuki, who was very stressed about translating because of the vocabulary. She received a list of knife related technical terms a few days before. She did a great job!!!! Really!!  In the meantime, I was explaining what I was doing in details. Later on, I had to cook a meal. First, we were thinking about preparing something Polish, but finally, we decided to make something Japanese. We have prepared miso soup made from scratch with our own fish stock and salmon tartare with sambal oelek sauce, shichimi togarashi spice, ginger and a few other things. I thought that we will eat it on the break with the rest of the crew, but I was asked to eat that with my girlfriend in front of the camera and in the same time we were interviewed. That was super awkward.  We have arranged a scene in the late afternoon which involved my friend Kuba. I have asked him to bring me his knife, which I made for him a few years earlier. I thought that I will repolish it, but I have only managed to sharpen it. The scene was very simple. They were recording me while sharpening the knife and then my friend has visited me to pick up his knife. It was very funny because he didn't expect that they will speak only Japanese and it looked quite funny when he arrived. I gave him his knife, they interviewed him and then we had to scream ''Nippon Ikitai'' to the camera:




We have finished recording after 12 hours. I was so tired that I couldn't believe it. On the following day, I met the tv crew in the Leicester city centre. They went there earlier to take a few shots of the landscapes. Later on, we went to the park to take a very funny shot. I took a huge Ittinomon mioroshi deba with me and an Aiwatani natural stone. I had to run with them towards the camera, stop just in front of it and enthusiastically say why I want to go to Japan and end it up with ''Nippon Nikitai''. It was a beautiful day, but it was quite wet, slippery and cold. I had to repeat that shot three times and after the second one I slept and almost felt to the ground with the huge knife and the stone. We came back home and recorded a few more things. Just before sunset, I was asked to show them how I grind my knives. I have quickly prepared my grinder and showed them the process. We just needed a few minutes. When we finished a bird shat on me and I laughed badly:D There is a superstition in Poland that when birds shit on you then you will have a good luck. Remember that later on:D

These two days were crazy and very exciting as well as very exhausting. We were recording for 12 hours on Sunday and 10 hours on Monday. As I said before, I have tried to keep that story to a minimum but you must know that we were doing a lot of things. The tv crew was also taking a lot of pictures of knives and food. I took a few pictures as well.











 Jo Yoda:





From left to right: The director - Jo Yoda, Cameraman - Yukichi Yamamoto, my fiancee Gosia, translator - Miyuki Kosuga, Zack - the driver and obviously me on the bottom.




The fact, that the tv crew has visited me didn't mean that I will go to Japan. I knew that they were really impressed, but I had to wait for the decision of the producers.

Later on, on 27th January 2018, a friend of mine who has visited me while we were recording in my home has set me up. He told me, that his friend who is a photographer is looking for an assistant for the wedding and that I can earn quite a lot of money for one wedding. I didn't like that idea, because I don't like this kind of photography, but the idea of earning easy money was quite encouraging. I had to meet him in the city centre of Leicester on Saturday. I went there and I have noticed three people with a huge camera. I passed them and then noticed that it was Miyuki, my translator and their driver Zack. I was speechless. They gave me a ticket to Japan!!! We went back to my home. I wanted to call Gosia, my fiancee, but they didn't let me. I was so surprised that I couldn't believe them and still wanted to call Kuba, because we had to see the photographer. Miyuki told me that it was a set up, but my emotions didn't let me believe that. We came back to my home and has surprised Gosia:D It was a great day!





So this is the end of part one and an introduction to my trip to Japan. I hope that you liked it and please read the end of the story in the next posts. There is 9 posts all together.




















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