Friday, February 29, 2008


Haikyo is the Japanese word for "ruins." Not to be confused with the Haikyo that is a talent agency representing Seiyu (voice actors for movies, video games, anime, etc).

When we first got to Misawa, I was amazed by the abandoned buildings that seemed to be such a pervasive feature. I always had this perception of Japan as the land of neat and tidy. Living here quickly disabused me of that notion.

Abandoned crap is all over Japan and said crap includes but is not limited to fridges, cars, roads, hotels, apartments, office buildings, roller coasters and even an entire island.

Abandoned places are prevalent and captivating enough that a specialized kind of domestic tourism dedicated to it has arisen; Haikyo tourism is popular enough to warrant several guidebooks and to generate interest in artistic photography of the ruins. There's plenty of websites about Haikyo too, featuring images of beautifully decaying places grimly surrendering to entropy.

I get the whimwhams just looking at the pictures.

Surface Below - Photography of Gunkanjima Island by American photographer Ross McDermott

Deflation Spiral - Folio Number 9 contains my favorite images.

Shinichiro Kobayashi - published by the ubiquitious house of Kodansha. Hokkaido Island is the stingray-shaped island at the top. Directly below that is the prefecture/area where I live.

Ruined Japan

Thursday, February 21, 2008

all-nite diner

all nite diner all nite diner all n te dine al n te di er all nite din r

(sign on the fritz) coughing up neon into the 3am world

two souls stagger in

(been up all night)

throw themselves into the naughahyde nirvana

of a back-corner booth

peering over menus

(fingerprinted dogeared)

she flings back her head

and laughs

(in utter delight)

the sound


(an amusing bit of artillery)

--off dinged aluminum walls

and day-old donuts--

takes a spin on the ceiling fan

zooms down the counter

rattles the dishes

whiplashes the necks

of the other patrons


but mostly




his heart.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I've lost ten pounds. The weather has been cold.
Doesn't sound like they have any relation to each other but they do.
My fingers have gotten thinner. The cold makes them even more so.

As a result, my custom-made, one-of-a-kind wedding band slipped off at some point today.

We tore up the house and tomorrow we'll go to the Base Exchange and ask if it has turned up.

The ring was insured but how can I ever really replace it?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cross-Eyed Ninja Snacks

Originally uploaded by bakagaijiin

Monday, February 11, 2008

Imo Mobile

So I was working on my computer and I heard this shrill, high-pitched whine. I'm thinking "awwwmigod, my hard-drive is, wait, awwwmigod, Chris' hard-drive is going!" Yet I can't seem to pinpoint exactly where the sound is coming from.

Then I realized - It's the IMO (sweet potato) saleman! Luckily, I had my camera ready to go and captured the moment, complete with steam whistle. The Imo business must be good, he upgraded his truck! Or maybe this is a different vendor than the one a wrote about long ago.

If I hadn't just finished a snack, I would have run out and got an Imo. They're really good--steamed and sweet and starchy and will totally burn the top of your mouth if you're a greedy pig and don't wait for them to cool down a little bit. Not that it's ever happened to me.

So here's the whistle, with a truck attached:

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Two bucks can buy a lot of happiness, particularly if "happiness" comes in the form of five-foot long pussywillow switches. Technically, I bought 5 dollars worth, since I purchased two bunches and the entire time I was smiling so hugely my face hurt.
Pussywillows remind me of spring as much as they remind me of my godmother's house, with it's unkempt flowerbeds (her husband died years before, and he did all the gardening) and decrepit, falling-down shed. Unlike my mother's neatly ordered beds, I could tromp though these unmade messes, sit down in the midst of them, and even better, pick the flowers. The beds were scattered randomly throughout her huge yard (you don't see yards like that anymore), and there were dead spots, tussocks, and the general creep towards entropy that ensues when the groundsman is no longer around to fight, tame, and otherwise control nature. Along the edges of these slowly reverting beds, as well as along the boundaries of my godmother's chaotic yard, were pussywillows.

Unlike the huge, pink(!) catkins on my Japanese pussywillows, the ones growing at my godmother's house were small, silvery-grey, like little pearls. It was hard to snap them off, sometimes I sort of ending up more or less peeling the branches from the main bush. The woody stems were a yellow-green with that earthy, greeny, thin sappy sent that reminds me of spring, of ground squishy with snowmelt and spring rain and just being a kid.

I remember a drainage ditch (which I called a stream) and floating the catkins that had fallen off (or I had pulled off) on it. They floated very well, I think because of the little pockets of air the the "fur" caught. I used to pretend that I was in the sky, placing clouds here and there and they would float along on air currents. When I got tired of this (or bored or hungry or wet enough) I'd go inside my godmother's house and give her the pussywillows.

My godmother always appreciated a bouquet of pussywillows and would always put them in a vase in what was really a dingy, bordering on dirty livingroom, but in my eyes, it was my favorite place to be, because of the candy bowls (more about that some other time), a bookshelf with just my books on it, the ability to be myself and be loved solely for that, and a vase full of whatever blooms where in season and I had picked.