The Only Gaijin in the Village Chapter 5


Illustration by Justine Wong

Has it really been a month since I last posted? I’ve been neck deep in grading at work but the semester is almost over and I’ve got 7 weeks of novel writing planned, I can’t wait. I’ll also be off to Korea and exploring the narrow road to the deep north (Tohoku) as well as sleeping. A lot.

I’ve still found time for my columns on Gaijinpot and my articles for the Japan Times. If you missed them, here’s a few links:

The Only Gaijin in the Village Chapter 5.

Great Japanese Writers: 2. Yukio Mishima.

The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami and Allison Markin Powell (translator).

The Diplomat’s Daughter by Karin Tanabe.

The Tokyo Anthology. A collection of writing from Tokyo during the Meiji era.

A Diplomat in Japan by Sir Ernest Satow.

Building Japan by Richard Henry Brunton



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The Only Gaijin in the Village 4

Justine-Wong-OGITV-6Busy, busy, busy, hence not posting here in a while, for which much apologies. My summer holidays are fast approaching bringing a chance to work on my novel, do some touring around Japan for fun and research (Tohoku, I’m talking to you) and generally get some sleep. In the meantime, here’s a quick round up of my journalistic outings.

Chapter 4 of The Only Gaijin in the Village is up now on Gaijinpot (art above by Justine Wong). I’m really pleased by the positive response this series has been receiving – it’s a bit of a departure in style and content for me but one I’ve been working towards for a while.

Also on Gaijinpot I began a new series of Great Japanese Writers with a look at Nobel Laureate, Kenzaburo Oe.

At the Japan Times I took a long look at Tomoka Shibasaki’s excellent Spring Garden, and reviewed Hideo Furukawa’s Slow Boat, Ian Buruma’s The Wages of Guilt and Nagasaki by Brian Burke-Gaffney.

More news as and when.

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The Only Gaijin in the Village Chapter 3

Justine-Wong-Illustration-GaijinPot-002A few updates. I have two articles in this Sunday’s Japan Times, one of Kenneth Rexroth’s 100 Poems from the Japanese and the other on Marc Peter Keane’s Japanese Garden Notes. Also the third chapter of “The Only Gaijin in the Village” is up on Gaijinpot right now. Justine Wong has done another wonderful illustration for it. Enjoy.

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Feeling Minnesota: Chris Cornell RIP

I can’t even being to process this. Soundgarden were there from the start, when my brain consciously began engaging with music. There was Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog and Pearl Jam and… anyone who knows me knows I’m still in that bubble.

Chris Cornell is dead.

At 52.


My feed is full of Chris Cornell. I can’t even begin to process this. But for the first time since the internet was invented, my feed is full of Chris Cornell. Nothing else, just Cornell. That his death had to be the cause is devastating.

We should share the work of our heroes daily, fill our feeds with the joy their creativity brings us, not drown ourselves in misery and negativity and relentless reminders of the dark side of humanity. Celebrate those whose contribution has made a difference to your life. Tell them, tell others, before it’s too late.

Don’t share things that make you angry, things that make you curse, things that make you bang your head on the desk. Share the things that make you rise up, out of your chair, and dance around the room. Share the things that make being alive, here and now, fantastic. Share the joy. Because there is joy out there. Lots of it. Oodles of it. And we all know it, because when it’s ripped from our hearts, like it was from mine today, we know in an instant what we’ve lost. What we’ll never get back.

RIP Chris Cornell. You made my life better and I never got to thank you for that.

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Japanese History

Well it’s all been go of late, starting a new job and joining a band (rhythm guitarist, first gig on Saturday). But I’ve also been keeping up with the writing (though not as much as I’d like). My latest piece for Gaijinpot, an article on Japanese history books, is online now.  Also this long-form review of a history of Okinawa. More news as it comes.

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Haiku Interview


I was recently interviewed about my poetry collection, Fractures, and you can read all about it here. Also newly up is the second chapter in my The Only Gaijin in the Village column, which you can read here. How great is the art Justine Wong did for the column?

Hope all is perfect in your world. It’s pretty hectic here but all in the best possible taste.

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Japanese Settings, International Themes


Looking for a good book? The second in my new series of articles looking at Japanese literature focuses on novels set in the country but written by non-Japanese writers. Featuring famous names like David Mitchell, Kazuo Ishiguro and David Peace, and lesser-known but equally talented authors Jackie Copleton, Nicholas Hogg and J. David Simons, there’s a lot of good reading in there.

Also newly up is my review of Michael J. Green’s By More than Providence, and exploration of US diplomacy in Asia-Pacific.

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