“I come from Leeds, in the UK. Martial arts is one of the reasons why I came to Japan. As a kid, I always tried various things but didn’t stick with them. One of the things I did stick with is jujutsu (ju-jitsu). I stuck with it to the point where I finally got a black belt at the age of 18.

“Martial arts was a big thing for me, in terms of learning about Japan.”

“There are many things that I love that brought me to loving Japan. Jujutsu was one of them. It’s probably helped me the most out of everything I’ve done; more than school or having a part-time job. It helped me a lot as a person.

“In the UK, physical presence is kind of a big deal. Because people will face off with each other. You get into fights.”

“Martial arts, I started that when I was 10 years old. But that’s not the first time that I came across Japan. When I was a kid (and even now) I used to draw. And eventually, I started drawing samurai. Samurai was where I started to get into martial arts. I was into their culture, philosophy, and history.

“Eventually my interest in Japan branched out. I went into all sorts, going all over the place. And then as I got older, I started to appreciate languages more. My major was Italian although my first choice was actually Japanese.

“In high school, after the tsunami happened in 2011, I spearheaded a fund raiser. We donated approximately 700 pounds to Red Cross. I put that together when I was 16 or 17. I was really happy with that. We did a rock show, believe it or not. It was a huge point of pride for me, along with getting my black belt at 18.

Mark Stephen Horbury at a hookah joint in Kichijoji, Tokyo.

Musically motivated

“I’ve been playing the guitar since I was 13 or 14. Music is the thing I want to drive forward with in Japan the most. I have a band called Fathoms. We’ve only been going for maybe 4-5 months now. We’ve done a few live shows at Ruby Room in Shibuya, near the love hotel district. And we’re looking to do more.

“There’s four of us—me (guitar and vocals), a Japanese guitarist (who’s a massive metalhead), the bassist (another Englishman who’s into indie music), and then the drummer (also an English guy who loves jazz). Fathoms is so fun because we all come from different places, musically speaking. And in that way when you bring such different people together, it can go two ways: it can either crumble or succeed. And maybe we’ll make something interesting that people haven’t really heard before. Let’s be honest, (if you’re in to) music, you’ve heard everything. But you can still add flavor to it.

“I’m hoping Fathoms is what’s gonna drive my future towards my various other goals in music. Tokyo is a difficult place to do this but it’s also one of the best places to do this. Because there’s such a great scene for music in Tokyo. And there’s so many places to play.

“Going back to Fathoms, we don’t have one kind of genre we’re looking to emulate. It’s more about our own ability. Like one thing I’m having trouble with at the moment is singing and playing. I want to learn to sing and play because it makes things simpler. It’s about skill; and it’s a skill I want to attain. We see people do it all the time but we kind of take it for granted. But man, it takes so much. It’s not easy. Not at all. It’s easy when you’re singing along chords but my music, what I write, I’m all about riffs, which are constantly changing. So it’s not easy singing over that.”

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Finding diversity and inclusion. Breaking down barriers one post at a time. Stories and snapshots of foreigners making their way in Japan.

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