Blood on the Sand

Blood on the Sand

 

There is blood on the sand,

but whose blood is it?

Is it blue blood,

Jew blood?

Or is it black blood,

that blood,

which curses us in other tongues,

and dripping in the dry gully ditch

consecrated by a crossed camel bone and conch-shell

gathers like the Dead Sea, minerals and water

in the lowest point around

but also in the world.

 

It’s not British blood, but is it

Yiddish blood? Arabic blood?

American stained and drained and processed blood,

FDA approved?

Is this blood signed and certified by Allah, or by Yahweh?

Is this the blood of olive trees,

forced to bloom

in the clay,

but life is blood

and blood is life,

and life is good,

and good is great,

and so on.

 

Is it colonial blood,

or is it post-colonial blood?

Is it purple blood?

(No, I don’t think so,

but it could be blood dyed all the colors of the rainbow.)

Maybe it’s all Rothchild blood,

with Zuckerberg also to blame.

Is it innocent blood, murderous blood,

soldier blood or terrorist blood,

or kite-flying-stink-bomb-toting

10-year-old skipping-school cool-kid blood?

Are we really dealing with the blood of children?

This is not a sandbox

but the desert.

 

Why does blood flow

when the body is impacted by a bullet?

 

Or is it by and large Gazan blood?

 

One blood two blood red blood blue blood.

Black blood blue blood old blood new blood.

Imperial ethno-state blood?

Plain Jane blood?

Jesus Christ blood?

Maimonides? Ali Khamenei? Jimmy Carter? Thom Yorke? Al-Muqta Baha-uddin?

(All of them yes, but maybe not him.)

 

Blood blood blood blood blood blood blood

blood blood blood sand

Sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand sand

sand sand sand

deserts and deserts and deserts of sand

—crackling under the billion stars and sky-scorched magnesium jet-dust jazz bars—

and blood on sand

and blood in ditch

and blood on porch

and blood on fire

and burning tires

to fade into the dark

and David’s grave

and the flute and the harp.

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Haikus Weeks 3-4: Spring

My next two weeks of original haiku translations. Featuring the progress of Spring: the white glow of spring sunlight, a second bitter winter, life and green and rain and love and joy, and then the heat of summer. For your weekly “Haiku Vocab 101” and more, follow the Instagram here.

Haiku10-2.png

Hakyo Ishida, Modern.

TRANSLITERATION: Basu o machi / Tairo no haru o / Utagawazu

LITERAL MEANING: [I/you] wait for the bus / The highway’s spring / Is unquestionable

Haiku11.png

Yosa Buson, Edo period.

TRANSLITERATION: Samu tsuki ya / Mon naki tera no / Ten takashi

LITERAL MEANING:  Cold moon / The weeping temple’s gate / The height of the sky

Haiku12.png

Yosa Buson, Edo period.

TRANSLITERATION: Ono irete / Ka ni odoroku yo / Fuyukodachi

LITERAL MEANING: The axe enters / surprised by the scent / barren winter trees

Haiku13.png

Kyoshi Takahama, Meiji/Taisho periods.

TRANSLITERATION: Nagere ni iku / Daikon no ha no / Hayasa ka na

LITERAL MEANING: Tears flow on / Daikon leaves / Early, isn’t it…?

Haiku14.png

Kobayashi Issa, Edo period.

TRANSLITERATION: Zubunure no / Daimyo o miru / Kotatsu ka na

LITERAL MEANING: The wetness (of making love) / [I] look at the Daimyo (my Lord) / A kotatsu, I wonder…

Haiku15.png

Matsuo Basho, Edo period.

TRANSLITERATOIN: Shibaraku wa / Hana no ue naru / Tsukiyo ka na

LITERAL MEANING: It’s been so long… / Above the flowers / A moonlit night, isn’t it?

Haiku16-2.png

Yosa Buson, Edo period.

TRANSLITERATION: Haru no umi / Hinemosu notari / Notari ka na

LITERAL MEANING: The spring sea / All day long gently swelling / gently swelling, isn’t it?

Haiku17-2.png

Matsuo Basho, Edo period.

TRANSLITERATION: Shihoru wa / Nani ka anzu no / Hana no iro

LITERAL MEANING: To wither away / Something’s wrong, apricot’s / flower’s color

Haiku18.png

Yamaguchi Sodo, Edo period.

TRANSLITERATION :Me ni wa aoba / Yama hototogisu / Hatsu katsuo

LITERAL MEANING: My eye the fresh leaves/ The mountain cuckoo / embarks slapjack tuna

Haikus: Weeks 1-2

The first two weeks of homophonic haikus, visually arranged. Featuring one poem from each of the five haiku “seasons”, and then a few gorgeous Matsuo Basho winter haikus. For your weekly “Haiku Vocab 101” and more, follow the Instagram here.

Haiku1-2

Matsuo Basho, Edo period. Spring.

TRANSLITERATION: Yuku haru ya/ Torinaki uo no / Me wa namida

LITERAL MEANING: The passing spring / Bird-song and fish’s / Eyes, flowing tears

Haiku2

A homophonic haiku takes the sound of the haiku as the primary unit of meaning. Its aims to envelop an English-speaker in the experience of the haiku.

Matsuo Basho, Edo period. Summer.

TRANSLITERATION: Samidare o / Atsumete hayashi / Mogamigawa

LITERAL MEANING: The rains of May / Gather hurriedly / Mogami River

Haiku3-1

Yosa Buson, Edo period. Autumn.

TRANSLITERATION: Bage sau na / Kasakasu toki no / Jigure ka na

LITERAL MEANING: As if to transform / The moment  I open my umbrella / An autumn drizzle, I wonder..

 

Haiku4

Masaoka Shiki, Meiji period. Winter.

TRANSLITERATION: Iku tabi mo / Yuki no hukasa o / Tazunekeri

LITERAL MEANING: Every time [I] go / the snows’ depths / [I] ask

Haiku5

Saikaku Ihara, Edo period. New Year’s.

TRANSLITERATION: Oomisoka / sadame naki yo no / sadame ka na

LITERAL MEANING: New Year’s Day / [in this] orderless world / order, I wonder…

Haiku6

Matsuo Basho, Edo period. Winter.

TRANSLITERATION: Shio tai no / Haguki mo samushi / Uo no tana

LITERAL MEANING: Salt sea bream’s / Gums also cold / The fish shop

Haiku7

Matsuo Basho, Edo period. Winter.

TRANSLITERATION: Kiyotaki no / Mizu kumasete ya / Tokoroten

LITERAL MEANING: The water gathered / At the clear [pure] falls / Tokoroten (place name/one by one)

Haiku8

Matsuo Basho, Edo period. Winter.

TRANSLITERATION: Izakodomo / Hashiri arikan / Tama arare

LITERAL MEANING: Small, child fishes / Running all around / Jewels of hail

Haiku9

Basho demonstrates why he is the master of his craft. As a love poem lacking both subject and object, this haiku nevertheless communicates a chiming longing, like a temple bell at dawn. It’s a love so pure that it can only be expressed by the most simple and yet generous gestures: tying the beloved’s hair, packing their lunch before they go.

Matsuo Basho, Edo period. Spring.

TRANSLITERATION: Chimaki yu / Katate ni hasamu / Hitaigami

LITERAL MEANING: Rice cake wrapped in bamboo leaves / By one-hand tied / Bangs-styled hair

Come back in two weeks for the next edition of Homophonic Haikus. Until then, much love.

-E

The Haiku Project

[Follow the Haiku Project on Instagram for original haiku art in your feed every day.]

About two months ago, we were given an interesting assignment in my translation class.

Translate five poems homophonicallyentirely according to the sound. Pay no attention to the meaning. Simply try to replicate, as closely as you possibly can, the rhythm and rhyme, violence/softness, fastness/slowness, consonance/assonance of the original poem. I picked out three haikus by Matsuo Basho, and the results stunned me.

I didn’t think I did a particularly good job. However, examining haikus from this angle made me realize something.

Americans don’t have a very accurate picture of the Japanese haiku. We either think strictly of 5/7/5, or a super minimalistic poem, thanks to lots of translation like this:

夏草や 兵どもが 夢の跡

Natsukusa ya/ Tsuwamonodomo ga/ Yume no ato

Grasses in summer.

The warriors’ dreams

All that left.

Like, that is awful. It seems like a machine translation. In reality this is a very pretty-sounding poem, but English readers don’t realize that the 5/7/5 also entails a distinct, rather beautiful lilting rhythm, and that all haikus employ dozens of sonic effects. It made me realize. I think beyond 5/7/5 we have the impression of haikus as imagism, thanks to Orientalist poets like Ezra Pound and Kenneth Rexroth, but haikus also imply stories most of the time.

Japanese doesn’t use subjects like “I”, “he”, or “you” often, so many haikus can imply two or three different stories at the same time–but if you translate it directly, it’ll seem like there’s no story at all.

Thanks to that little homophonic haiku project, I stumbled upon a way to translate haikus that I think conveys more than just imagism, and that captures the sound and the story of any good haiku.

Let’s go through my process.

行春や 鳥啼き魚の 目は泪

Yukuharuya   Torinakio-ono         Mewanamida

LITERAL/DIRECT TRANSLATION:

The passing spring,

Bird-song and fish,

Flowing tears.

Okay, so we’ve got some nice images here. But in reality the flowing “oo” sound is dominant and juxtaposed with “ohs”, and contrasted with the many “ahs” of the final line. Not to mention the flatness of these three lines. “Spring”, “fish” ,and “tears” all end with your pitch going DOWN, which creates a dull impression of finality. Meanwhile the Japanese ends going UP, lilting, like a song. Let’s translate this entirely based on sound.

You cool sparrow, you

Old tree naked pool, oh no,

Me, nostalgia…

Great. Now we know what the poem actually sounds like. Repetitions of “ooh”, with drawn out final syllables at the end of each line to create a formal sense of “nostalgia”–a word that sounds almost exactly like 泪–we’ve got the flow of the original.

But I think we’ve lost too much of the meaning. So let’s modulate just a bit back without losing the rhythm we’ve established.

You song sparrow, you

naked fish and eye’s old tears.

Me, nostalgia…

Not bad. Could be better, but not bad. We’ve got most of the meaning, and most of the sound. Even though we’ve cut out “passing spring”, the Kigo-word that indicates what season the haiku-refers to, the sense of nostalgia instead becomes much more crystallized. We will always have to make sacrifices in translation, and I’m willing to sacrifice the direct meaning in order to convey the poetic sound-qualities of haikus.

But you may be asking…

What is this “Haiku Project”?

I’m so very glad you asked.

I’ve created an instagram account, the Haiku Project, haikuproject365 (yes, haikuproject was taken. I am angry). On this account I will post almost every day artistically arranged original translations of famous Japanese Haiku.

They will look like this:

Haiku1-2Then in the Instagram post description I will give all the proper creds to the offer, what season it refers to, and much more useful and snazzy information. AND THIS POSTING WILL GO ON FOR ONE MONTH, AT LEAST!

So do me a favor. Follow! Check it out! Get a poem in your feed every day. Maybe it’ll get you hype about the coming summer (or for those in New Haven, the recently arrived Spring), just a little bit.

SEASONS OF JAZZ [1]: The Journey Begins

Welcome, friends. Over the next several weeks, we’re going to begin a journey through the distinctly American art form known as Jazz, educating ourselves through a series of weekly Spotify playlists.

I’m going to explore the cultural origins, the musical innovations, and the social significance of five different movements (and five different 12-song Spotify playlists) of Jazz: Blues & Swing [Spring]; Bop [Summer]; The Avant Garde [Autumn]; Fusion and Latin Jazz [all four seasons]; and Jazz since 1980 [Winter].

It’s a route that will condense the most lush, quaint, and popular period of Jazz (roughly 1930-1950) while expanding on the most artistically dense (late 50s to early 70s), culturally expansive forms of Jazz, as well as allowing for a focus on what on earth has been happening in the world of Jazz over the past 40 years (spoiler: more than you might think!)

What qualifies me to write about this topic? I’m definitely not an expert. I studied Jazz piano for 8+ years, and have been a keen listener of Jazz since I started. However, I think the diversity and far-reaching influence of Jazz on American culture and pop music have been traditionally understated. Even though most of us think about Jazz as being an outdated art form, try remembering how often we encounter it in movies, restaurants, or on the street. Clearly something is sticking.

Over the next month or so, let’s figure out what, and let’s discover just how much jazz has to offer us.

This week, enjoy Jazz in 12 Songs.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/esilogram/playlist/5UH5dmjZQCTs8734Wi0jNH

As impossible as it is to condense jazz into the months of the year, I gave it a shot. By the end of this series, you’ll understand why each of these songs is included. By giving the playlist a quick listen, you will quickly come to realize a few things:

  1. Absurd stylistic diversity: Obviously Charlier Parker and Ella Fitzgerald are Jazz, but so is Robert Glapser’s record from just 5 years ago. One of the most popular and influential jazz records came out of Brazil. One of the main figures responsible for the revival of jazz in modern hip-hop came from Japan. In these 12 songs you’ll find at least 12 moods.
  2. Nonetheless, there is a pattern: This is gonna sound obvious but it’s important. Black men have been by and large responsible for most of the stylistic innovations and long-lasting compositions in Jazz, while many of the singers we remember have been Black women. Naturally, there is a reason for this. (This is not to ignore the stylistic and artistic contributions of women, which will also be explored)
  3. It can fit any mood: Feeling down? Just listen to Fats, Ella, Louis, or Frank. Want to have your mind torn into little tiny pieces? Try Coltrane, or Ornette Coleman, or Pharoah Sanders.
  4. Improvisation and composition go hand in hand: For every standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus pop Sinatra hit, there’s a precisely, maniacally arranged Duke Ellington big-band standard. And for every Ellington standard there’s an understated Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Andrew Hill, or Keith Jarrett tune that relies almost entirely on improvisation. And techniques for jazz improv as well as composition evolve remarkably from decade to decade. And that’s not just the instruments–that’s the singing too. Discovering the different techniques and relishing in every instrument improvising is one of the key steps to really enjoying and appreciating jazz.

So check out the playlist. Explore, in a 12-song flash in the pan, the world of jazz. Come back soon for SPRING: Blues & Swing, 1918-1948.

Hope to be seeing you all soon. Until them, jam out.

[[[THE PLAYLIST]]]

Jazz in 12 Songs

  1. Confirmation – Charlie Parker Quintet
  2. Afro Blue – Robert Glasper Experiment & Erykah Badu
  3. Ko-Ko – Duke Ellington
  4. Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Fats Waller
  5. Summertime -Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
  6. Monk’s Dream – Thelonious Monk
  7. The Sign – Nujabes & Pase Rock
  8. Spain – Chick Corea & Return to Forever
  9. Blue in Green – Miles Davis
  10. Corcovado – Joao Gilberto, Stan Getz, & Astrud Gilberto
  11. A Love Supreme, Pt. I – John Coltrane
  12. I’m Beginning to See the Light – Frank Sinatra

In New Haven, Why Can’t I See the Stars?

Goodbye, Stephen Hawking. You made us dream.

A cosmic tower on a hill that

penetrates infinity and keeps

the secrets of the mystic deep in dreaming states—

I sit besides its color,

white, atop a wooden bench,

and I see lavender and rushes

eat the stirring autumn wind and other dark

matter-objects. The sun is yellow and white,

Rigel is blue, and the Milky Way’s a monarch butterfly:

Hold it in your palm.

Feed from the same flower.

Drink from the dark-matter objects that push brighter, quicker things across the sky.

 

Imagine that our galaxies

are honey-bees, and flit between

colossus oaks near overgrown with roses.

And we, two photons, shot from the dark, alight

the amber on the wing and bound back out

with three times the speed and none of the color, radiant heat.

Before the wing

can close to catch

us we have burst out past the neck and traveled to the lone cloud in the sky.

 

There the two of us

might sit, dreaming of

the land we left below. We wonder if

there’s anything above the blue

that’s deeper than the sea,

and anything past the liquid of our eyes

that can catch a different source of light and ears

that can hear the other’s breath as light, as dark

matter-objects,

dark-energy.

When we climb the tower

where will we be?

 

He casts a shadow over me,

a king black eagle on the wing,

a hung flag smoldering, piercing the tongue.

Embarrassments of Translation

Ginga Tetsudo no Yoru, or as I translate it, Night on the Milky Way Railroad, is one of the most famous, significant, and enduring pieces of early 20th century Japanese literature by one of Japan’s most incredible authors. In it, Kenji Miyazawa walks the line between a child’s fantasy and a complex literary masterpiece with baffling dexterity. He is a commander of the human voice in all its startling range of emotion, an adept inventor of onomatopoeia, and a master juggler of Japanese folklore, western novels and fairy-tales, and Buddhist theology.

And yet the translations that we have–FOUR!, we have FOUR!–fail on many accounts to even hint towards his brilliance.

My title is a bit strong. “Embarrassments” goes too far. It would be more proper to say “Shames”, which would point towards the fact that it is simply a shame that an English reader cannot properly experience Miyazawa.

The premise of the story: Giovanni is a boy from a poor family in early 20th century Italy, plagued by bullies, with an ill mother and a father currently away on business. His only friend, Campanella, keeps him company and gives him sympathy and relief. One day, when Giovanni lies to rest on a hill, he hears the arrival of the Milky Way train to the stars, bound on a fantastic journey for the land of the dead. I’ll go ahead and stop there, and merely drop the hint that the end of the story is brutally sad.

So what goes wrong in translation?

A lot. Miyazawa uses stream-of-consciousness often to represent Giovanni’s thoughts, which few of the translators render in the English. But Miyazawa’s capacity for describing action is near unparalleled, and it’s one moment of description that I’m going to hone in on to describe what exactly an English reader misses in the average translation.

Context? It’s a moment of utter obliteration, of fantastic, transformative change–when Giovanni passes from ‘reality’ into ‘fantasy’, from the real world into the world of the Milky Way Railroad. Let’s take a look at the Japanese, a literal gloss by me, and two translations, one by Roger Pulvers (1991) and one by Sarah Strong (1996), neither of which are bad per se.  They’re just not good.

Pulvers:

Then Giovanni saw the weather station pillar right behind him take on the vague shape of a triangular sign, flickering on and off like a firefly. When the blur in his eyes cleared, everything became clear and finely outlined, and the sign with its light soared straight up into the dense cobalt-blue field of the sky…

Strong:

Giovanni noticed that the pillar of the weather wheel directly behind him had turned into a sort of hazy triangular marker. For a while he watched as it pulsed on and off like a firefly. It gradually grew more and more distinct until at last it stood tall and motionless against the deep steel-blue field of sky. 

Japanese and literal gloss:

そしてジョバンニはすぐ後ろの天気転の柱がいつか

soshite jiobani wa sugu ushiro no tenkiten no hashira ga itsuka

And then Giovanni right away the behind weather station wheel at some point

ぼんやりした三角標の形になって、しばらく蛍のように

bonyari-shita sankakuhyou no katachi ni natte, shibaraku hotaru no yoh ni

with-vagueness-[sound-effect]-did triangular shape becoming, it at once like a firefly

ペカペカ消えたりともったりしているのを見ました。

pekapeka kietari tomotari shite iru no o mimashita.

twinkle-twinkle [sound-effect] turning off and lighting on and so on [it he] watched.

それはだんだんはっきりして、とうとうりんと動かないようになり、濃い鋼青色

sore wa dandan hakkiri shite, tohtoh rin to ugokanai yoh ni nari, koi kohseishyoku

That bit-by-bit clearly [sound-effect] doing, at last not moving becoming, steel blue

の空の野原に立ちました。

no sora no nohara ni tachimashita.

sky’s field on [it] stood.

In the Japanese passage, sound is absolutely paramount. Not only does it clearly have repetitive qualities of consonance and assonance, but there are a number of onomatopoeia. So Miyazawa is not only inundating a reader with images but also sounds: the sound of fumbling indistinctness (bon-yari), the sound of a faint or dulled glitter (peka-peka), the sound of haziness becoming clarity in a flash (ha-kiri!). Miyazawa’s sonic manipulation defines the moment of Giovanni’s passage between two worlds.

Both Pulvers and Strong attempt to replicate this effect through visual fogginess becoming clarity, but the poetry of the scene is already down the drain. Pulvers accidentally stumbles towards a solution by using “flickering”, a verb charged with visual as well as sonic meaning in the English—but he would need to multiply this sensibility by three or four times before he approaches the sensation of the original.

Ezra Pound’s classification of poetry into melopoeia, phanopoeia, and logopoeia comes to mind. In the original, there’s a sort of melopoeia present, where the words are charged with sound that lends deeper symbolic and sensory meaning to the language. Rendered as phanopoeia (a casting of images), a reader sees Giovanni as a static observer of a faint, distant change, rather than a kid actively bombarded by the sensory overload that accompanies ascension into the fantasy of the Milky-Way Railroad.

It’s not that English can’t accomplish this effect. Far from it! In addition to our own onomotopoeia and plentiful literary techniques to incorporate sonic energy in prose, we’ve got also words that function doubly as auditory and visual words: crackle, spark, whip, and so on. Keeping some of these strategies things in mind, let’s attempt a sonically tuned translation.

MINE:

And then Giovanni saw the weather station wheel right behind him at once turn into a murmuring triangular shape, glittering and flickering on, off and on like a firefly. Clarifying bit by bit and at long last clattering to a halt, it stood on the field of a steel-blue sky.

I try to do a few different things here.

One, I’m not adding concepts or ideas that aren’t in the original (like Pulvers’ blur in Giovanni’s eyes) and I’m sticking more or less to the original syntax.

Two, I’m attempting to replicate sonic and rhythmic effects. There’s a whimsicality in the original (~tari tari suru~ form, for anyone who knows Japanese) that I try to capture with the “on, off and on” rhythm. We get our sonic triangle sign, now faintly murmuring, glittering and flickering (which sound a bit similar), and then clattering. The point isn’t to replicate every sound in the Japanese, but to replicate the generation of auditory energy.

That’s what Miyazawa does brilliantly in the passage–engage all your senses and generate energy through sonic effects. You need to feel his prose in your body, not just in your head. That could be one definition of what poetry is–generative energy that affects the body. Surely my translation isn’t close to a true, faithful, and poetic rendition, but I’ve got my eye focused on the things that I believe matter beyond mere meaning.

You Love It, Don’t You?

You love it, don’t you?

The warmth of two hands wrapped around you tight. The fleeting touch of a finger on your trigger. The black smoke you exhale after a hard hit… It means so much to you, to have a hand holding onto you. Alone you are a stick of steel, but in his hands or in his mouth you rule his world and all others.

You want it.

You need it.

When you let your bullets come out of your mouth, peerless spheres, and his touch keeps you warm, and pale fire runs hot through your tongue, is it power that courses through your bone-cold spine—absolute power…

It’s addicting, isn’t it? It’s like a needle full of cane-sugar in the vein…

And the blood your bullets spill—it’s what makes you great. People spend hundreds, thousands of dollars on your steel feed, delectable copper bread and mouth-watering wax biscuits. They taste like human fingernails and teeth. Yes, when you open your mouth and feel the fire flow, the world is yours.

Whether he holds you loose in a quaking, trembling palm, or squeezes your guts with a murderer’s grip, you are Lord of not only his breathless, wild eyes and palpitating heart but also over many. You are powerless without him, but when he picks you up, you own this Earth.

Yes, you love it, don’t you? The blood they spill confirms your mastery… your power… Bullets one after another gurgle from your gaping mouth; you hound after flesh, you dream of pierced stomachs, and every ounce of you conspires to this aim with supreme efficiency. Your polished chamber, your supple trigger, your magazine that thrusts and slides as you eject scorched shells… once he pulls your trigger you can do no wrong.

You exhale. Coils of smoke rise over the bodies of dead children.

You Lord of America, you! You are the God they worship. They need your power and they grovel at your feet.

And you love it, don’t you?

Week 15: Thank You | ありがとう

I almost couldn’t escape this country. Hokkaido tried to kill me multiple times, with the final attempt as a savage blizzard assaulting quaint Hakodate, exposed on three sides to the sea. In the floodlights you could see snow streaming sideways, passengers in hurried transit. Yet somehow, just 90 minutes late, a JAL flight landed in the midst of tempest. An hour later, it was my plane to Tokyo, ready to take off.

Hokkaido felt like a somewhat different animal from the rest of Japan. The scope of valleys, forests, mountains, and even the coursing flow of the ocean waves felt grander. A certain Japanese sensibility felt flimsier only in the mundane, practical architecture. The more interesting buildings had an international flair in Hakodate and Sapporo alike, and the snow-capped mountains by the sea beats just about any scenery I’ve witnessed to this point. I’m still angry at Hokkaido for making me miss about two flights and giving me a three-inch-radius bug bite on my thigh, but I’m going to go back some day. The skiing was excellent.

Hokkaido did, however, put me firmly back in the realm of tourist, which I hadn’t been for more than four months. I really did feel like a student living in Japan, for which all credit goes to CJS at Nanzan University and the Light Fellowship. Japan is a special place to me–I think Americans can learn a lot from its culture, history, arts, lifestyle, and manners. On the other hand, I know very well now that Japan is far from a perfect place. The education system, working culture, and political system are all deeply flawed. But to me there really is nothing else in the world like relaxing in an onsen, or walking through a zen garden, or enjoying Japanese hospitality and bottomless beverages at a nice restaurant.

But “Thank You” goes to the people, not the country. Thank you to Mr. Light and the Light Fellowship staff for letting me come back over here. Thanks to all the hard-workers at CJS for helping exchange students live in Japan legally with health insurance and all that important stuff. Huge shout-out to my Japanese teacher, Okada-sensei, who is a wonderful person and helped me improve my Japanese in countless ways. At YKK we also had four elderly Japanese managers of our dorm, who varied in their personal traits (cough cough @ strict af Yamada-san), but all were dedicated to helping us live in an enjoyable and convenient dorm.

And FRIENDS! STRANGERS! Why was everyone at Nanzan so nice? I thought Japanese people were supposed to be formal and impersonal! (I mean sometimes stuff was awkward, but, しょうがなない、ね?) I joined jazz club and jammed with a bunch of first-years who had never spoken to a foreigner before; Japanese students came every week to our class to help us practice and chat about fun topics; a girl named Mariko went out of her way to help me volunteer at an elementary school; Tam and Momo invited me to the club every weekend; Billie-Jack was always hosting cooking parties with delicious food where everyone was welcome; Asuha was always down for some Super Smash Bros; Keelan always had wine to share; Pia laughs like an evil Disney-witch at last turned good; Saho and Sayaka and Haruka and Yukimi were always bright faces to see at Stella at lunch time; the list goes on and on and on and on and… it simply doesn’t stop. To every single person: ありがとう。

To Japan: また、ね。