Dr Stephen Dixon, picture on the left with Rob Simpson and President Lili-Ann Kriegeler, provided the club with yet another excellent and engaging talk about his experience after visiting Japan some 30 years ago.
 
In November last year, Rob and Karin Simpson  were traveling Japan when they visited an historic site on the island of Miyajima near Hiroshima with a Torii Gate seemingly floating in the water.  They were most surprised to find an Australian leading a group of school children on an educational tour of the island - it was Stephen Dixon.
 
Stephen was born in Bendigo, went to St. Patricks in Ballarat, before becoming a teacher at Kew Special School until 1991, when the school closed. Stephen likened the conditions at Kew Cottages to those depicted in the film “Elephant Man”.
 
Soon afterwards, Stephen travelled to Tokyo as a Homestay student, living with a Japanese family, planning to continue his study of Japanese for a year before returning to Melbourne to finish a Japanese course at Monash University, and perhaps resume teaching at a primary school in Melbourne. 
 
During his stay, however, he associated his experiences with another film “Sliding Doors”, with several occurrences compelling him to remain in Japan.  He mentioned that in those days, a 10-minute phone call to Australia cost $30, so regular contact with his family was very difficult.
 
While things didn't go according to his initial plan, they turned out much better than he could have expected and the experience in Japan has had a profound impact on his understanding and appreciation of culture and diversity, and interest in many major events that have shaped Japan in recent history.
 
Stephen was greatly impacted by the 1995 Hyogoken-Nanbu earthquake when over 600 people lives were lost; and again in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which resulted in 20,000 deaths.
 
Despite all this, he is extremely happy in Japan, with his Japanese wife Miho and their 16 year old son. It was interesting to hear that Stephen and Miho were married in Canterbury.
 
We thank Stephen for the wonderful talk, and hope that he can return again, this time with his family, as a guest of our club.