New Year, old friends, manga, cookies, and swords

Last weekend, for founder’s day I got a chance to visit with Nami and her husband Taka at their home in Sumiyoshi. Nami and I have been friends since the first day I came to Japan, so she and I have quite a considerable amount of history. We met at the 2002 IWEC workshop in Makuhari. At the time she was studying art at an applied media school while I was starting my internship with ATR.

I’ve always been a fan of her doujinshi (fan published manga), the vibrance and exotic nature of her style always electrifies me.

For our New Year’s party I decided to make some cookies to share. The most fun part was decorating them.

Taka and Nami both wore kimono for the occasion, and I was fortunate enough to be able to try on Taka’s outfit after dinner.

Wearing hakama (divided skirt worn by males on formal occasions) feels pretty cool, actually. I put on my best Final Fantasy-inspired pose. Can’t you just imagine me overcoming all adversity to save mankind and more importantly, the heroine?

[Yes, technically if I was indoors I’d have my wakizashi out instead of my full length sword, since I’d very much be likely to get it stuck in a rafter during a strike, but this just looks cooler and my daimyou wasn’t around.]


Kawasaki-shi Kyomachi is still the same. The same tired, old buildings, empty of people but lived in. The same early morning shadows in winter, soft and blue in fresh January air.

The more I learn about them, the more I can imagine myself using narcotics to maximize my output from life; stimulants for when I don’t sleep, to help me focus, to be able to grind out hour upon hour of photographs, music, and prose. Reading volumes and consuming everything, augmented and completely wired to my core. Then inevitably I’d need depressants to relax me, to help me get the three hours’ sleep that would keep my body from collapsing, to put the brakes on the endless surges that carry me all the way up the stairs to my apartment after work. So many things I’m capable of, so much light to consume and refract.

But there are limits, and like all substances there has to be something to give for what I receive, sooner or later. So I just imagine it, and compromise the government-recommended way: an endless supply of coffee and self-denial.

It’s a clear day. It’s a very saturated day.

Sobu Line thoughts

I’ve been coming back here for six years and every time I arrive it’s electrifying and wondrous. How can i never tire of it all? The trains, the rivers, the tired danchi and sagging pachinko parlors that go zipping by. Massive highways, father peddling by with small children in baskets, the endless landscape of twenty million silent individuals is arresting. JR, Sumitomo, Sankyo, Daiei, Coco Ichibanya. Neon, acid rain, pressed uniforms and courteous bows. Love, drama, and decay.


A clouded sky, under a twenty-thousand foot canopy of still grey. Towering, slim evergreens reach across the ceiling like well used acrylic brushes. Moving without sound with expectation, with so much determination with direction, with longing, with cold dispatch. Explosions of color in water, slowly diffusing into starkly back lit glass. To do everything with purpose, and gravity.

To do everything… with purpose and gravity.