Monday, April 27, 2015

Young Ravens Issue 2 Introduction

I'm pleased to announce the Spring 2015 release of Young Ravens Literary Review, Issue 2! Fabulous cover art courtesy of Tommy Ottley.

I'm especially excited about sharing this issue because its theme explores the essential vitality of reimagining fairy tales, folktales, and the ethereal in nature. To quote the introduction:

"A wise folklorist once taught that variation is the key to the survival of stories in human society. When fairy tales and folktales becomes static, with only one dominant or “right way” of telling, that is when they are doomed to lose relevance and remembrance in our collective consciousness. By exploring retellings of the same tale and differing perspectives in narration, stories thrive because they are never done being told anew."
The introduction continues with an earlier blog-post turned poem pondering Cinderella as writing muse. No, more as a metaphor for a writer's heart, bright glass courage, brittle fears, and all we are, once were shining, or yet may ink:

After Midnight

In the deepest hour of night
I bury a once starlit thing--
What dreams may teach me:
Glass slippers break easily
Leaving only shards.
And yet . . .
Cinderella's next step
After midnight
When the ball and all
Her gossamer glories
Were completely undone,
That step was the most important.
Barefoot in the dark,
She made her choice
To go on.
Must I write?”

I must.

- S. E. P.

L1 paraphrased and L16 taken from: Rilke, Maria Rainer. (1903). “Letters to a Young Poet.” TinyLetter. Retrieved from

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Farewell, Nihon!

At the end of April, I'll be leaving Nihon (Japan). While I'm very glad that I will be living closer to my family in the U.S., I will miss the genuine kindness, courteous civility and friendship I have found here, to say nothing of the gorgeous beauty of this country.

I hope I will never lose the wonder of hanami, cherry blossom viewing season, where pondering on spring sakura petals brings one a small portion of true happiness in a crazy, fast-paced world.

I will always hold dear the timeworn reverence I experienced when visiting shrines rich with ancient history, and remember the glow of paper fortune wishes tied to racks at Kushida Shrine. 

But time flies, and so now must I!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Food for Thought, Entry 4: Tonbei

I'm going to do my Japanese food review early this month as I have some special posts planned for the end of April. Two days ago, I went with my friend Yuiko to my very first teppanyaki restaurant, the most excellent Tonbei (豚兵衛)! Teppanyaki is a Japanese style of cooking on an iron griddle. According to dear Wikipedia, Teppan (鉄板) means iron plate while yaki (焼き) means "grilled, broiled, or pan-fried." The exciting part of teppanyaki cuisine is that all the grilling is done right in front of the customers!

We had the option of sitting at tables or at the bar. We chose the bar, which was super sugoi (awesome) because we had first row seats to watch the chefs cooking on a giant iron griddle that spanned the length of the bar. They were extremely fast and efficient with all their movements, turning even the tossing of an egg shell into an art.

photo provided by splendiferous Yuiko

For my meal, I chose a type of cabbage pancake slathered in a creamy avocado cheese shrimp sauce and crowned with tiny tomatoes. It came sizzling with green melted goodness on its own personal mini griddle! The dish was so scrumptious that I didn't even leave a single scrid behind.

The person who brought me my food also kindly cut it into four portions, which I was very grateful for as my chopstick skills are . . . let's go with "still evolving." The restaurant staff were extremely attentive to all their customers' needs and always had a jug of refreshingly chilled ice water ready to fill my glass before I even realized it had gotten low.
One cool feature of Tonbei are the bright copper kettles that line the walls: they show the restaurant's menu! (Notice the smiling piggy for pork)

This restaurant is located in Hakata Station in Fukuoka. If you ever get the chance, stop by Tonbei for a uniquely mouth-watering culinary experience!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A spring haiku

Today, I scribbled a little spring haiku in praise of Japan's cherry blossom season;

Pink silk stars by night
Cluster in bright tears to trees
Sakura falling. 
 P.S. Here's a little daystar sakura from Uminonakamichi!