Starting My Blog

Hello, world!

My name is Kohaku Toran, nice to meet you!

I’m starting this blog for two main reasons: first, I want a place to express my thoughts about the world (don’t we all?), and second, I want a place to share my writing pieces.

I’m new to blogging (so please bear with me as I get used to this format), but I’m definitely not new to writing. For the past eight years I’ve been working with short stories, novels, and now prose-poetry and personal essay-poetry (zuihitsu). My genres include science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, and magical realism. Most stories I write are written as gifts for close friends. I don’t really like sharing my work with others, though I’ve recently been convinced otherwise, and I have no plans to profit off of anything I create.

So, in short: on this website you will find typical blog posts about life and the way I think about the world, and you will also find pieces of my writing!

A Brief Self-Introduction

I’m an introverted minimalist and pescatarian who cares a lot about environmental sustainability, human rights, world peace, and minority representation.

I am ethnically Taiwanese, and culturally Taiwanese and Japanese.

My favorite sport to watch is figure skating. I’m a fan of Yuzuru Hanyu, Jun-hwan Cha, Stephane Lambiel, Adam Rippon, and Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir.

I like Japanese comedy. My favorite comedians are Downtown, Ameagari Kesshitai, and Jinnai Tomonori.

My favorite band is X Japan. I also like RADWIMPS.

My favorite author is Haruki Murakami, and my favorite book is Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore”.

My favorite pianists include Yiruma, Yoshiki, and Sakamoto Ryuichi. I also like older music from the romantic era, such as Chopin and Brahms.

My favorite singer-songwriter is GACKT.

I love Studio Ghibli films. I grew up on Miyazaki’s masterpieces, not Disney!

Currently I identify as queer and genderqueer/non-binary. I love androgynous looks, and I don’t really care what pronouns are used to refer to me. 

I can speak and understand English, Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Japanese to varying degrees of fluency.

I have self-harmed before, and I have thought about running away from home or killing myself. I think about the nature of the world and life and death all the time.

Depression runs in my family, and many of my friends are or have been suicidal.

I believe that human life is fundamentally constructed out of two essential and inevitable ingredients: suffering and love. At heart, I’m a “realistic optimist” – I see the terrible things in the world and in humanity, but I believe that we can change ourselves for the better, that hatred is unnatural, and that love will always win in the end.

About My Name

Kohaku Toran seems like a pretty unusual name, right?

In Japanese, it’s written like this: 陳琥珀.

The first character is read “toran” (toh-rahn) and is a surname.

The last two characters are read “kohaku” (koh-hah-koo), and this is a gender-neutral chosen name. The shortened version is “Haku” (hah-koo), and I’ll respond to that too! In whole or part, this name means “amber”, like the color.

Hidden within the characters for Kohaku are the characters 白虎, which mean “white tiger”. At least for me, the white tiger is a symbol of resilience and strength for the traditionally disempowered.

When I started searching for a gender-neutral name, everything started falling into place! I had already been attracted to the names “Haku” and “Kohaku” for some time, and a picture of a white tiger had been my desktop image for almost a year. When I found the name Kohaku on a gender-neutral list, I knew it was for me.

About the Name of the Blog

As the name might suggest, I’m searching for what it means to live, what it means to be Kohaku Toran, what it means to be me at this time and place. I might never find answers, but it’s all about the process, right?

The tagline “Art of Life” comes from X Japan’s song of the same name. Yoshiki – leader, composer, songwriter, drummer, and pianist – says in the band’s documentary, “Always people tried to surround me with walls. All my life – your body is weak, you can’t run, you have asthma. The walls surrounding me in a small hospital room… ‘Art of Life’ is about breaking the wall. If I didn’t get rid of that wall, the only thing I could do is die.”

This statement resonated with me a lot, because if I think about it, I’m trying to do exactly the same thing: I’m trying to break the wall. To figure out who I am, how I should live, how I can transcend the tiny box that society tries to confine me in. 

It’s going to be a great journey, and I’m honored to share it with anyone who wants to join in.

That’s all for now – take care of yourself.

Your life is worth it.

Kohaku Toran

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