I’m excited to announce I had a short story published in an online literary journal called OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters. You can view the story here.
I thought I’d briefly talk about what prompted me to write this short story.
Unfortunately, I had to attend a funeral in the fall of 2019. It was my first funeral in Japan, and I spent a long time researching all of the etiquette involved in attending one. Beyond wearing black, there are rules such as you can’t wear anything shiny or have a shiny or leather purse, and you can’t wear any jewelry beyond your wedding ring and possibly a strand of pearls.
Thus, I was struck by the man whose wife had just died. Like in the story I wrote above, he wore a cardigan to the funeral, and no one said a word about it. Despite the strict rules on dress code, here he was in a cardigan.
It made me immediately wonder what he was thinking, and it inspired me to write my speculations as a story.
I haven’t been to DisneySea in about three years now, which might shock all who know me because I am an enormous Disney fan. I love all of the animated movies of late, especially Pixar, and it’s just a relaxing experience for me to visit the parks.
I haven’t visited the parks in about three years because I have two small kids, and I wanted to wait a bit for them to grow up first before taking them. I miss the Christmas decorations at DisneySea, though.
For an expat such as myself, you miss the Christmas lights around this time of the year. Some Japanese gamely put up a few lights outside their houses, but it pales in comparison to the insane decorations you can often see in neighborhoods in America. Disney Sea seems to have come to pick up the slack.
Especially around their Cape Cod area, I walk there as the sun sets, admiring the Christmas lights, and for an instant it feels like I’m right back in the best memories of America I have.
The park is insanely crowded during the regular holiday season, but if you have no particular plans in mind beyond walking around and riding a couple of rides, you can still have a great time eating white chocolate popcorn, nursing a hot cocoa and viewing some lovely illuminations. I hope in the next few years I can go back again.
Mr. Sato composes a lot of music for Japanese TV and films, and this song was made for “Rurouni Kenshin,” which is a film series I love (sorry to say I can’t get into the anime or manga for this). I think my love of Takeru Satoh combined with a love of action movies really fueled my love for the series.
The song is a perfect way to describe the main character of the movie series, Kenshin, but it’s also a song that motivates me to write almost every time I hear it. I love the somber undertones of a woman almost wailing while music that I can only describe as “ridiculously cool” continues furiously driving the piece forward.
If you have time, I really hope you can listen to it and see if it motivates you, too.
You can find this photo on my Viewbug site as well.
I have a hate/love relationship with hiking. I hate the effort it takes to get anywhere, I hate how insects are usually absolutely everywhere, and I hate the fear of believing a bear might be nearby. I love, however, taking photos while hiking, and this love drives me to continue hiking despite my hatred of a lot of things found out in nature (mosquitoes, I’m looking at you).
With the ongoing pandemic, hiking in solitude has become a great way to get out of the house and take a better variety of photos, so I was excited to visit Shirakoma Forest in Nagano Prefecture, which is famous for the moss covering the ground.
I have to say that considering how incredible it was seeing the moss everywhere, I was impressed the locals hadn’t turned the area into a tourist trap. I can just see some spots in America milking the area to death, but as far as I can recall, this natural wonder had a sign indicating the name of the area with a little ball of moss with eyes standing next to it, serving as a kind of mascot.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve been dealing with a Canon DSLR for quite a few years now, and it took until this trip to realize I have a “natural light” setting on my camera. It’s been driving me crazy for years now that the photos I took did not express the lighting I saw with my eyes. And then destiny finally guided me to the “natural light” setting. Finally I feel like I’m taking photos that better represent what I’m seeing. It’s an exciting time for me.
I hate winter after the holidays are done, much like I think everyone else does. After the cheerful glow of Christmas and Japan’s own version of that glow during the New Year’s holidays, we in the Northern Hemisphere are left with the dark, the cold and the dreary.
Where I live it rarely snows, too, which means nothing ever has that slightly cheerful look to it that snow can bring to your local landscape.
I survive winter with two things. First, the kotatsu, which deserves its own entry later on.
Second, mikans. They’re similar to tangerines and clementines, and they are the reason I can go entire days through winter without complaining about the cold because they’re in season only during the colder months of the year.
I love how easy they are to peel, how sweet or sour they can be and how there are usually no seeds to be found within. The juice also only rarely seeps out when you’re peeling it, making it mostly mess-free to eat.
One of my dreams has been having mikan trees growing on our balcony, from which I can pluck some mikans every morning. Year after year I’ve looked at them being sold at Japan’s answer to Home Depot and year after year I’ve looked at the price tag and kept walking.
Finally, though, I took some seeds from a mikan that did actually have seeds in it and planted them in the ground. I now have three mikan trees growing.
The internet has been swift to tell me this is a horrible way to grow mikan trees because they will probably not give me a single fruit for about ten years or so, but I don’t care. I like watching them slowly grow. I think I can wait.
Every now and then I’d like to take a minute to briefly describe what went into making a photo either posted on my Viewbug account or that I have on here.
I thought I’d start off with the main image on this site, which is something I plan on changing with the seasons.
For a long time I’ve always declared myself to be a summer fanatic. I’m almost always cold, which means winter is out. Thanks to hay fever, spring is out, too. I thought of summer as the best of all seasons…until the heat got worse. Lately in Japan, it’s been nothing but supreme heat and humidity over the summer. The heat is just oppressive.
That’s when autumn saw its chance and creeped onto my radar. I have to admit there’s a lot to like: fall colors, crisp air, insects dying or hiding underground, lots of days of sun.
While enjoying everything autumn has to offer, I stumbled across this bench. The black bench and the dark hardwood deck it was on offered the perfect contrast to the bright yellow leaves behind it. I knelt down in front of it and spent a couple of minutes trying to get the framing just right before finally taking this photo.
I’m a huge fan of natural lighting, and usually cloudy days are my natural enemy. However, I have to say I like the softer light the clouds offered for this picture.
I’ve had my share of writer’s block. I usually spend the time during the dry spells looking over what I’ve already written and sometimes pushing myself to just finish something.
Then come the rushes. These are crazy bouts during which I have a hard time functioning in a regular society because my mind will just not stop telling me about the story. I think it wouldn’t be a problem except I feel like my memory is especially bad, so I find myself running to write down whatever scenes my brain shows me before that scene disappears forever.
The last writing rush I had was back in the spring when I was looking again for a book I wanted to read. The idea hit me that I should write a love story that I actually wanted to read.
What followed is about two months of struggling to balance my regular life with the onslaught of scenes my brain provided. I often wondered if I would have been happier locked in a room with a computer for a month, but I think having those mandatory breathers in between writing helped me create a better story.
I’m trying to get the book published, and if it ever does, then I’d love to share on here more behind-the-scenes of my crazy writing process for the book. Right now, though, it’s my favorite book that I’ve ever written.