Quest to gain, impart knowledge drives expat | The Japan Times Online

An interesting and talented lady — and I am so impressed how she sifts through information to impart rational, clear direction during this whole radiation panic among the foreign community in Japan.  Meet Aileen Kawagoe.

Quest to gain, impart knowledge drives expat | The Japan Times Online.


Soul of your sole: Japonista!

These shoes reflect why I love Japan: the blend of ancient and modern, traditional and hip, funky and unfailingly polite.

After they shipped them, the company sent me an email with pictures of my package (presuming I did not read Japanese, and thus helping me know what to look out for in the mail, a great thoughtfulness that belies their youthful image).  They also included in my package Japanese okashi or sweets AND tabi socks to wear with my new tabi shoes (of course, I live in Japan, so I already have loads, but still — thoughtful, thoughtful!) ; the packaging itself is wonderful, but anyone who knows Japan knows how obsessive they are about wrapping things nicely.

AND, finally — MY SHOES — BLISS!  I read about JAPONISTA  a long while back and luckily remembered the company name when my walking shoes walked themselves holey on Monday. Japonista Sole tabi shoes are a bit pricey (11,000 yen or 120 dollars, same as good walking shoes here)  but they are comfortable and easy to walk in —  plus, dig their motto: soul of your sole.  (Feeds my soul, anyway.)

Or, as Ichiro Suzuki says, If your feet are healthy, you are healthy.  I could substitute in happy as well.  I am happy today.  Off for a walk in the lovely spring sunshine now. With my new shoes, baby.  Buy Japan! Go JAPONISTA.  (I am already thinking I really need a black pair, too, you know, just for a bit of variation……)


International school typifies Sendais community spirit | The Japan Times Online

International school typifies Sendais community spirit | The Japan Times Online.


I only spoke with Jim Steward by phone, but his optimism and educational philosophy really impressed me.  He’s struggling to make the best of an awful tragedy, and you can hear him smiling across the phone lines, despite his compassion for people in his area not so lucky.

I hope the school (and the whole devastated area) recovers.



Saudade.  I am a word collector like some people collect baseball cards or travel stories.  This one is Portuguese for a certain type of longing. It is on the 2009 list for the Most Difficult Words To Translate.

I will translate and transmogrify the word to suit myself, to define my own, current, perpetual longing  — but not for you.  (Sorry.)

I will give you some hint:  It is not always a sad longing; it is not wistful, looking for things past.  The word to me seems strong, defiant, ready (readiness is all) — longing can turn into reality, if you smile into the face of your dream and wait.  This is the longing I have now, this is my word for it. Saudade.

(I apologize to any Portuguese reader who says, BUT THAT’s NOT WHAT SAUDADE MEANS.  Don’t tell me. Don’t email me.  This is what it means to me, right now.)

Saudade: solitude and motorbikes; sleeping under the stars and walking under the trees.  Finding a way to find a way out.

I have one half day, a night, and another half day to myself — working on my dance play — and I am cherishing the time to write and sleep and write and muse and daydream and write and walk and write and watch a musical tonight alone and write and count stars and write and sleep alone.

And wake up alone and write again.  Saudade.

Canadian writer draws on creators support for Tohoku | The Japan Times Online

Meet Annamarie Sasagawa, and consider pre-ordering an e-book, Write For Tohoku.  I contributed an essay, and many of my writer friends are also included.  Thank you.

Canadian writer draws on creators support for Tohoku | The Japan Times Online.

Poetess achieves duality of words, numbers | The Japan Times Online

Meet Jessica Goodfellow, a wonderful poet and interesting woman.


Poetess achieves duality of words, numbers | The Japan Times Online.

Amid Shortages, a Surplus of Hope –

I’ve been wanting to post for several days now, but the energy it takes to be happy, carefree and fun for my sensitive 9 year old, who keeps asking me if the people in Sendai are okay, and alert and attentive to tremors for my 6 year old, who is tired of all the earthquake/tsunami talk and swears she will just climb the nearest tree if another big one comes — well, by the end of the day, I have little energy left to write.  Luckily, someone else said it for me, everything I feel about this horrid tragedy and unfolding nuclear drama:

Amid Shortages, a Surplus of Hope –

I also want to show appreciation here for my ballet sensei who greeted us all on Monday (all, meaning the four of us, hesitating and creeping in the door, half guilty, half defiant, out of the usual 18 who made it to class two days after the quake) with smiles and jokes and DANCE and blessed forgetfulness, reminding me that ART is the most wonderful remedy to heal the uncertainty of the human condition.

We are fine right now, and hope to be fine tomorrow and the next.  Hope you are too, wherever you are reading this.

in Just —

The world is mud-luscious, full of piracies and marbles, puddle-wonderful indeed. The sky slapped me into awareness today, its vibrancy a reprimand to appreciate and savor, to throw off my winter gloom and revive. The boke buds outside my home whispered dreams and the daffodils nodded in cheery agreement.

If only I could throw off the lame, goat-footed balloon-men, divorce myself from my own inner days of Spring。三寒四温 (san kan shi on), the Japanese say, but for me it means three days numbed, four days warmed by a fever inside I increasingly fear.

The season is upon us, Grendel reminds me with his fire-dragon’s cynical mirth. (I always reread my favorite books, in times of need.)  Its worn pages, the faded scribbles caged within the margins comforts, a reminder of alternative me, alternative lives. The choice we all have, as Beowulf tells him in the last pages of his life.   A fitting book to read in just spring.

Two days ago it snowed; today the sun burnt off our jackets and gloves, coats and hats abandoned on the withered grass like wildflowers.

I am a frozen bud, suspended between bloom and possibilities.

(The kanji on the top is an old Japanese word for courtesan: the first kanji means flower, the second one is a meld of two meanings:  demon and  trail-blazer/pioneer.  The title of this post for those of you unforgivably illiterate in American poetry, is the same as e e cummings’ poem on ambiguous spring. I borrow it here, for, ambiguous me. )

Harmonia Opera marks milestone | The Japan Times Online

A lifetime in another country, pursuing your artistic dream —


Harmonia Opera marks milestone | The Japan Times Online.

Touched by teen suicide | The Japan Times Online

I review the wondrous book of a local writer and friend–


Touched by teen suicide | The Japan Times Online.

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