April 2012

This week on Trapped By Monsters: We Respectfully Suggest.

I’m now over sixty thousand words into the zero draft of my new book. That’s already almost longer than Crawlers, but with this I think I’m about halfway. It’s still the most awesome story I can think of, and getting more awesome all the time. Sometimes I’m excited about that; sometimes I feel I’m never going to manage it. That’s the job, or how it is for me.

Since I first got here my tastes in Japanglish have developed a bit. I still enjoy it when it’s direct and to the point

…but I’ve also learned to appreciate its tendency towards convolutedness

…its capacity for strange and delicate beauty

…and, sometimes, its sense of mystery.


This week on TBM: the best piece of writing about writing that I’ve read in a very long time, and kappa.

Now I’ve got an inkling why everyone went so blossom crazy here last week.

In its way Japan can be as beautiful in the rain, of course. You get shades of green here I’ve never seen anywhere else.

But, just like when it happens in the UK, sometimes there’s nothing else you can do but load up on good stuff to read and wait it out.

Left and centre are by someone whose work I’m rapidly becoming obsessed with: Shigeru Mizuki. On the right is the gorgeous Japanese edition of Uzumaki, by Junji Ito, which I recommended on TBM here.

It’s cherry blossom season here in Japan.

I’ve been having my first experiences of hanami.

The blossoms themselves are pretty spectacular. But I’m more impressed by the effect they seem to have.

It’s like a national party. Parks are stuffed full of people picnicking and boozing. Not just young people either: I keep seeing otherwise quite conventional-looking grown-ups – old folks, too – all grinning, giggling, playing silly b&ggers and occasionally falling over and passing out.

It’s catching. 😀


If you’re interested in suggestions about what to read next, I’ve just updated my LibraryThing review page with all my TBM book recommendations from the last six months or so – including the inspiration and image source for this

…namely The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezu. 😀

Click here for A Tale of Two T-Shirts: Shirt The Second.

London has pigeons. Tokyo has crows.

They seem supremely relaxed. Unlike British crows, whose asthmatic GRAAK! makes them sound like bad tempered old men, Japanese crows make a sound like a posh English person casually referring to the author of Brideshead Revisited: WAUGH, they say. WAUGH.

I’ve heard people here say they bring bad luck. One young woman who lives near Yoyogi Park, where I took the first pic above, told me she lives in fear that one day a crow will peck her eyes out. Famous carrion eaters that they are, it’s easy to speculate that the crows’ prevalence here is a reflection of Japan’s impressively horrifying history of death, destruction and disaster, both man-made and natural.

I’ve only been watching the crows here for three seasons now, but I have a different theory…

I think they watch over Japan – and their intelligence, stylishness and resilience are reflections of their kingdom.