How Bikes & Castles Made a Teacher into a Creator - UWC ISAK Japan

How Bikes & Castles Made a Teacher into a Creator

James Earwood moved with his family to Japan in 2017 to join the UWC ISAK family. Inspired by a budding interest in Japanese historical sites and his passion for cycling, James recently started a YouTube channel, where he documents his cycling excursions to Japan’s castles, ruins, and hidden gems. But before you check out his channel, take a moment to learn a bit more about James and why he is such a valued member of our school community.

James Earwood was one of our featured faculty on NHK’s Sapiens & Pandemic TV program
A little bit about your background

I am from the state of Georgia in the United States. After teaching two years in North Carolina, I moved abroad as an international educator in 2010. I spent 5 years in Austria, followed by two years in Jordan and  am currently finishing my fourth year here at UWC ISAK.

What drew you to UWC ISAK and what is your role?

I currently teach IB Global Politics. I learned about the United World College network while living in Austria. When a position opened at UWC ISAK I applied, hoping to see if any doors would open. Long story short, my wife and I interviewed and were offered positions. We have been more than happy with our decision and haven’t looked back.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I never dreamed an education/history degree would provide so many diverse opportunities. I have met people from all corners of the world and have taught students from many different cultural backgrounds. I am getting to the point in my career where former students are reaching out to me and my family. I am always grateful, and slightly surprised, when former students tell me they appreciated my course, or a particular unit or class. Though there are many things I enjoy about my job, these moments certainly top the list.

What do you enjoy most about living in Japan?

I enjoy the scenery and history. I am a mountain man at heart, which is why I feel at home in Nagano Prefecture. You can be anywhere in Japan and a mountain, or cultural/historical site, is never far away.

James Earwood discusses his trip to the lava field near Karuizawa
Why did you decide to start a YouTube channel?

I started my channel during the height of the 2020 pandemic. After students were dismissed in late Spring, we made the difficult decision to stay in Japan for the summer, forgoing our annual trip home to visit our families. My daughter was in nursery school, so I had plenty of free time to spend on my bike. I really began to explore the region and was gobsmacked by the amount of historical sites within a 100 kilometer radius of my house. Though grateful for my experiences, I set out on most of my trips on my own, but I wanted to share what I was seeing with friends and family. As such, I decided to start my channel somewhere in the middle of the summer 2020. It has been a learning experience, but one that I have enjoyed.

James Earwood introduces a snow-covered historical site in Iiyama in northern Nagano Prefercture
What content are you most proud of / want to recommend to others?

My favorite video so far covers a ride I did in November to a beautiful temple south of Komoro, called Nunnobiki Cannon. To get to the temple, you must first hike 15-20 minutes. Once there, you are greeted by a beautiful, ancient temple built into the side of the rock face with Mt. Asama adorning the background in all her glory.

James Earwood explains a bit about the history of Nunobiki Temple in the nearby town of Komoro
Any words of encouragement for budding content creators?

If you are like me, your first videos are going to be pretty bad. Do not worry about it. Every video you make is a crash course in videography and photography. You learn as you go. Stick to it! Once you get in the groove, it is a rewarding hobby. And who knows, it could become your career.

Visit Mr. Earwood’s YouTube channel Bikes & Castles Japan to check out more of this videos.

James’ travels aren’t always on two wheels. When winter comes, you might find him on Nagano’s world-famous slopes.
On the road with James Earwood

 

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5827-136 Nagakura
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