Nowhere To Go

She rested her arms, thick and fleshy, on the top of the half-wall, and cupped her face in her hands. Marilou often stood in the balcony at night to gather her thoughts. To take in the breeze, survey the expanse of the property, with its sprawling gardens, tennis courts, and playgrounds. Her room behind the kitchen was a square box with cream-coloured walls. It had barely enough space for a single bed and a cupboard. Twelve years in Singapore as a helper, and she had never really gotten used to the fact that her room here did not have any windows.

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Nanzen-ji

As a special online preview to our ‘Water in Kyoto’ issue, Paul Rossiter’s poem ‘Nanzen-ji’ reveals an example of how vitally water is intertwined with Kyoto’s rich cultural legacy.

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Another Pool Party in Saigon

The joke of it is that, like a lot of people out here, he has no home to go back to. You don’t move to Saigon if your life is going well. He doesn’t even speak to his family. He’s lost touch with his real friends in England.

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My Year of Meats: An excerpt

It was Kato, my old boss at the TV production company in Tokyo where I had gotten my first job, strangulating English sound bites into pithy Japanese subtitles. Now, he said, he had a new program and could use my help.

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Last Man Standing

These young fellows nowadays, I tell you—not an iota of respect for their betters! These whippersnappers are so horrid, so horribly rude: they’ll look past you on the road, they won’t take any notice of you at all…

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By Any Other Name…

Tiberiu Weisz contends that contact between the Hebrews and the Chinese started probably sometime around 980BCE. If this is true, Israelite presence would have left traces in the historical records kept by the Chinese since their earliest dynasties.

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Words Necessary and Unnecessary

Translating out of one’s original language into a second language is a risky endeavor. In the case of translator Goro Takano, with this exquisite and slightly quirky bilingual chapbook-object, he acquits himself well.

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Kazuki Takizawa’s Color From Green

While KJ is not primarily a literary publication, poetry has always been a vital component in our content mix. This poem by Elena Karina Byrne, along with others by Jane Hirshfield, Arkaye Kierulf, Tamara Nicholl-Smith and (in translation) Shinkichi Takahashi, is featured in KJ 95 (Wellbeing).

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Confessions of a Sushi Boat

I’m so tired of them washing me, or not washing me properly. The grains of rice tend to get stuck between my wooden planks. But when Chef Jiro Sakamoto does it, it’s always different. He gives me proper care and attention, pays heed to the details of my grooves and curves…

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Consequential Legacies

I have come to believe that she is channeling Toscanini with her hands. Equally, I’m firm in the conviction that she is channeling a fabled Persian songstress with her soul.

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Lemon

An impenetrable curse lay heavy on my heart. Call it an uneasiness, call it ill humors—like a hangover after drinking, you drink every day and there comes a time when it all might as well be a hangover. Well, that time had come.

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The Hungry Ghost

She told me we wouldn’t eat any of the dumplings.  That, it was bad luck to eat food left out for hungry ghosts.  It would make them angry.  I remembered reading about hungry ghosts, wasted, mouths too small to eat.  They tried to possess people, sometimes the emotionally weak, so as to be able to taste the food they craved…

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From “Rain and Thunder”

I once liked walking in the rain, the harder the better;
liked facing the drops and letting them drench my hair,
then follow individual courses under my collar…

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Persimmons

Split: a star-like reflection.
Flesh like the fire-belly of a newt,
only since coming each autumn
have I taken to swallow firm
fresh mouthfuls,
the jam-insides
of others sun-dried.

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Thirty-Six Times

It is the mountain’s presence that most inspires when viewing Hokusai’s thirty-six prints. Rain or shine, snow or wind, clear skies – seen from village, sea, or city – the mountain is a timeline against which all of life is measured.

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The Stone Carver

He walked back to the main street, along the row of stone workshops.  Through the open doors of one he saw, through a haze of white dust, a row of squatting carvers working frantically, pounding their chisels into the stone in a clanging chorus.

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Into the Hills

Into the Hills

Up into the Northern Hills,
up the slender, winding road
to the last bus stop; get out, walk
the narrowing valley to the end,
climb steep stone stairs.
Pause there for a cup of tea.

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