Tsuki Magazine Takes You Inside Japan

It’s got stunning photography capturing the quiet beauty of everyday life in Japan. It’s got thought-provoking interviews on race relations and self-publishing. It’s got engrossing Japan-themed fiction and nonfiction including my very first published story!

If you’re really interested in life in Japan, and not just the tourist traps they show you in Lonely Planet, this is a magazine you need to read. Click here to read a free sample. I think I can safely say after reading the debut issue that it was a huge success. A big thank you goes to Caroline Josephine, the mastermind behind it all. I’m ecstatic to be included in the magazine along with my fellow bloggers and photographers Loco of Loco in Yokohama, Joanne Yu, Our Man in Abiko, J.C Greenway of Ten Minutes Hate and Made in DNA. I hope to see and be included in many more issues to come.

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Below is a sample from my story. Head over to Tsuki Magazine to read the rest. Get your copy here!

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An officer and an interpreter waited on Anna with typical Japanese courtesy, standing silently but alert at the side of her hospital bed. The officer had a pen poised over a notebook. The interpreter stared at her with his bushy, dark eyebrows raised in expectation. Anna stared dumbly at a limp curtain (that should have been white but wasn’t quite), bunched up at the corner of the empty hospital bed across from hers as she tried to shake free the details of the night before. They’d settled like potatoes in the sluggish stew of her brain. She could hear nurses talking in Japanese in the hallway outside her room, and though she usually tuned out at the sound of a language she could barely understand, today their chatter distracted her. The gash in her arm stung and itched, tight and uncomfortable under the gauze with the stitches pulling it closed. She knew there would be a bad scar, and hoped it wouldn’t screw up her chances of getting modeling gigs in the future.

Focus, Anna focus. She closed her eyes and breathed deep, smelling the harsh cleanliness of antiseptic chemicals. She started her recollection with what she remembered most clearly: The blood, running down her arm first in one thin stream, then a little red river, breaking off into branches when it overflowed. It was like looking at one of those artsy pictures where everything is in black in white, except one thing that’s a really bright colour – a red balloon, a yellow scarf, something like that. No, she didn’t scream. She couldn’t feel the knife slicing into her. She only knew she’d been badly cut because she could see it, and the eruption of blood splitting into three streams snaking down her arm, dripping off her elbow onto the road. She was too mesmerized to scream. Yeah, she probably was in shock. It hurt like a bitch after though.

The officer and interpreter chatted for a few seconds in fast Japanese, until finally the interpreter turned his dark eyes on her and asked, “Please tell it from the beginning.”

* * *

It had been a hot night. Though the sun was asleep it was still unreasonably sticky out, and Anna knew there were embarrassing sweat stains on the back of her blouse. She was making the long, boring walk from the station to her apartment. She remembered being impressed that she was halfway home and hadn’t had to dodge anyone coming at her on a bicycle yet, or stop at the side of one of Tokyo’s narrow roads for a car to roll by. No looking at her shoes or the flowers in the front yard of a house or something, to avoid eye contact with the driver. Then, she’d stupidly thought it was good luck.

She was closing in on the intersection where she would turn for the home stretch to her place, when she saw the first person she’d seen on the back roads all night – which was strange to be honest, ‘cause there are a ton of apartments and houses in the area. She couldn’t tell if it were a man or a woman. All she could make out was that whoever it was wore one of those hospital masks people here strap onto their faces when they’re sick, or is it trying not to get sick? Anyway, it stood out, bright white against the person’s black coat, black hair and the blackness of the night.  Anna had wondered how on Earth this person could stand wearing that long, dark coat in the heat. Yes, she could respect the dedication to fashion, but it was one of those nights where it’s so humid the air is tangible, and you just can’t seem to get enough oxygen no matter how deep you breathe.

Anna turned left at the intersection and the other person turned as well, and ended up walking behind her. Soon, Anna noticed the coat-wearer was practically on her heels. She could hear breathing – slow loud inhales and exhales like someone meditating, or maybe trying to supress their rage. She sped up, thinking maybe the person was agitated because she was in their way or something, even though they were the only people on the road and he or she could have easily gone around Anna. However, she shrugged it off as a “Japanese” thing, like passing someone on the road might come off as rude, but when she began to walk faster the person matched her pace. That was when Anna realized she was nervous.

Why is this dude right under me like this? She had decided it was a man. Oh God, maybe he’s some kind of crazy person who hates foreigners, or – shit – is he gonna try to rape me or something? Dammit where is everyone?

She remembered hearing that rapists look for women who seem like “victims”, and that they don’t want to risk being identified. Maybe it was unwise, but she turned and faced the strange person.

 

Random KitKat Action

So I stroll into school one day and I notice there are some snacks on the back counter of the teacher’s room. Occasionally a student or one of the staff will bring something in. “Oh I wonder what it is this time?” I thought. “I hope it’s something good and not something weird,” because well, sometimes it’s something weird.

But not that day, oh no. That day it was an awesome KitKat Bonanza!

KitKat Bonaza

 

I remember reading somewhere before coming over that Japan is home to thousands* of different KitKat flavours. Flavours only some kind of mad genius could think to combine with wafers. The KitKats in the photo above are (clockwise from the top): white chocolate,  “mild” chocolate, green tea, mixed juice, sweet potato, caramel, custard cream and blueberry. Since I’ve been here I’ve tried some of the more exotic flavours, and here is my official review.

Green Tea KitKat

Green Tea KitKat

 

 

Alleged Flavour: Green Tea

Tastes Like:  Green Tea Ice Cream.

Final Word: Delicious

 

 

 

Sweet Potato KitKat

Sweet Potato KitKat

 

 

Alleged Flavour: Sweet Potato

Tastes like: Sweet Potato…if you put salt on it or something. It was sweet with a strange salty aftertaste.

Final Word: Don’t like! (Gross!)

 

 

Caramel KitKat

Caramel KitKat

 

 

Alleged Flavour: Caramel

Tastes like: Caramel (and chocolate).

Final Word: It’s good! Can’t go wrong with caramel and chocolate.

 

 

 

Blueberry

Blueberry

 

Alleged Flavour: Blueberry

Tastes like: Your mother’s potpourri bowl.

Final Word: Unless your one of those health nuts who likes drinking wheat grass and stuff you won’t like this. It tastes like flowers.

 

 

 

An honorable mention goes to three more flavours: Strawberry shortcake (the mad genius’ finest work so far in my opinion), tiramisu (It had a distinctly cheesy smell, and a distinctly cheesy taste, yuck),  and custard (tasted good, went well with the waferishness of the wafer). I really wish I had tried mixed juice, but I didn’t know what it was at the time. Even though the label was in katakana, which I can read, I couldn’t figure it out because the idea of a juice flavoured kitkat was so…absurd to me I just couldn’t put two and two together. Mixed juice KitKat, honestly. He’s mad I tell you, mad!

*This number is not based on any kind of official count, but it’s most likely true anyway.
**Update** It seems there is a new KitKat flavour, Zundafumi, and this one is fluorescent green! proceeds from the sale going toward those affected by the Tohoku earthquake. Thanks to Donald over at The Japan Guy for finding t his one.