Category: Japan

  • Ōsaka Blues

    Ōsaka (大阪) was the 20th stop on our round-the-world adventure. By the time we reached it, I hit a wall. Was it Ōsaka that I disliked? Had I been on the road for too long? Perhaps I was suffering from a severe case of FOMA: the fear that there was a better, more exciting place…

  • Onsen

    Onsen

    Onsen (温泉) in Japanese means “hot source.” The hot comes from the volcanoes across the country. Volcanoes generate geothermic energy which heats natural springs. The Japanese have flocked to hot spring baths for more than a thousand years. Today, onsen attract visitors from all over the world. When my husband and I visited Japan in…

  • In the Shōgun’s footsteps

    James Clavell’s novel Shōgun came out when I was in high school. In 1980, the made-for-TV mini-series version aired in the US. It starred Richard Chamberlain as the English pilot John Blackthorne and Yoko Shimada as his Japanese intepreter Mariko. It’s embarrassing to admit but I think Shōgun sparked my lifelong fascination with Japan. That…

  • My People

    I think a lot about my identity as an Asian, though usually only when circumstances force me. Chinatown attacks on elderly Asian-Americans. Asian women shot for being too sexy. Even life in the Low Lands sometimes reminds me I am an Other. How would these experiences compare when traveling while Asian through Asia? Old School…

  • Private Dining

    As lockdown restrictions ease around the world, restaurants reopen. Take-out is no longer the only dining option. There’s outdoor seating with plastic shields between tables. Indoors, there are caps on the number of diners and a break between sittings to deep clean the restaurant. Fresh from a 7 month long trip around the world, I…

  • Kyoto Craft

    There’s something about Kyoto that pleases me. There are grand castles and breathtaking gardens. The people are kind and the food is great. There are more places in Japan like that but Kyoto is special. The lamp glow is soft, the paper screens crisp, the incense seductive. It can’t all be a coincidence. I suspect…

  • Country Life

    The first time I went to Japan, I was 10 years old. We were on our way to visit my maternal grandfather in Taiwan, stopping for 3 days in Tokyo. I remember a hotel high in the clouds and a city more modern than LA far below. This is my fourth visit to Japan and…

  • Bonsai

    Bonsai seems like such an obvious metaphor for editing a novel manuscript. The tiny tree, tweaked and twisted to look like the real thing, just as a novel strives to mimic life. When I think of bonsai, I’m whisked back to a Zen temple complex outside of Tokyo. It’s early in the morning and the…

  • Korea

    In high school, I took a history class called China, Japan and Korea. Or maybe that was the title of our textbook. The salient details have escaped me. I had forgotten how close these countries are and how long their history of meddling in each other’s affairs. two korea’s In a recent interview by the Financial…

  • Origami for Authors

    Nihon no hanga The canal house is built of massive grey cornerstones and variegated red bricks. A clock gable stands on top with a hook sticking out. The hook is for hoisting of pianos and wardrobes and king-sized beds. The doors are too narrow and the stairs so vertiginous for anything wider than a laundry basket…