Entry #51 – Life, Updates

Hi all, hope you’ve had a good week.

Sorry to have missed daily posting the past few days. Various life things have got in the way, I didn’t have power for 30 hours straight and this heatwave is driving me nuts, and there’s a few relatives suddenly in the hospital… some good things too, it’s been a very mixed week for me. Anyhow, I will take the rest of this week off and aim to be back on my regular writing & publishing schedule on Monday.

Take care and be well,

KT.

Entry #50 – Dinner Party #5

Hey all,

Kohaku here. As I mentioned in last week’s entry, this is going to be the last scheduled journal entry for now. Liner notes will be the new Sunday serial going forward – you can read the whole entry about it here, and check out the new liner notes page here.

Anyway, today is the 5th edition of my Dinner Party project. If you haven’t come across this before, here’s some info before I start:

Links to earlier installments:
→ Dinner Party #1 (full explanation of the project and its history)
→ Dinner Party #2
→ Dinner Party #3
→ Dinner Party #4

Obligatory blurb:
“The basic premise is to keep a list of 10 famous people whom you admire or respect, people who inspire you in your daily life and work. Then, track how this list changes over time. There are some new people on it this time around. These new inspirations replaced some of the old ones, to keep the list at 10, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like or draw inspiration from those old people anymore. The Dinner Party project is just a snapshot of the 10 people who are most inspiring to you at this particular moment.”

Okay, here we go. As before, new entries compared to last time are bolded, and every name is linked to that person’s website or Wikipedia page. I’ve also added one new thing this time – beneath each entry, I’ve included a brief description of one or two reasons why they are on my list. In no particular order:

  1. Yuzuru HANYU (羽生結弦)
    — Taught me to always give my 120% even in the face of illness/injury/adversity.
  2. Greta THUNBERG & other student/youth climate activists
    — She self-educates, relentlessly speaks her mind to anyone, and is a realist who still doesn’t give up.
  3. Jane GOODALL
    — Taught me to approach environmental/climate change solutions with both determination and hope.
  4. GACKT (大城 ガクト)
    — Taught me to live life without making regrets, especially in your genuine relationships with others.
  5. hide (松本秀人)
    — Inspiration as a guitarist and artist, and remained a kind, thoughtful, loving person even after reaching extreme popularity.
  6. Hayao MIYAZAKI (宮崎駿) & the whole team at Studio Ghibli
    — Inspiration for not just making great art, but also using it to convey significant themes regarding the environment, war, female empowerment, etc. to children and young adults.
  7. Mao (山口真生)
    — Inspiration as a poet and artist, for his song lyrics and musical styles. No Wiki page, so these are links to his blog (JP) and his band’s Wiki (EN).
  8. Haruki MURAKAMI (村上春樹)
    — If I had to pick one traditional writer who influences my own writing the most, Murakami would probably be it.
  9. Yojiro NODA (野田洋次郎)
    — Inspiration as a poet and artist, for his song lyrics, MVs and representation of minorities.
  10. Chachamaru (藤村幸宏)
    — Inspiration as a guitarist and a kind, laid-back person, and expresses in a fairly “feminine” way.

Something I noticed with this edition in particular, especially when I was writing the one-sentence inspiration explanations, was that sometimes I am taking these people as individual representations of a larger group. For instance, when I say I am inspired by Hayao Miyazaki, that is true, but I also mean the animation and production team at Studio Ghibli as a whole and I don’t want to slight them. Other times, I literally mean just the one person listed – when I say Yuzu or Chacha inspire me, I don’t imply anybody else related to them. So, to be more clear, I bent the rules and added group descriptors into the list wherever applicable.

There are three new individual entries this time. Recently, I have been learning a lot about climate change solutions and really focusing on that, so it makes sense that Jane Goodall and Greta Thunberg are on my list right now. In many ways, the two of them and their approaches to addressing the climate crisis are very different, but I truly think that both ways are necessary and valuable. Greta Thunberg on my list also represents the many other student/youth climate activists who do not receive as much media attention as she does, but who are also doing really great, valuable, inspirational work.

The third new entry was Mao. He is the vocalist and lyricist of SID, one of the bands I have been listening to a lot recently. Especially for me, who exists to a large extent at the intersection of writing and music, I think it is quite natural for poets to be inspired and influenced by songwriters, and perhaps even the other way around. I read once in a music article somewhere that great poetry usually makes for terrible song lyrics, but I don’t necessarily agree. Anyway, it can’t be as simple as that. I wondered whether to include the other members of SID in the list – maybe AKi, who writes the music, or Shinji, who plays the guitar – but I decided on just Mao for now.

So, that’s my current top ten. What does your list look like right now?

Take care of yourself,

KT

Entry #49 – Introducing Liner Notes, & Related Updates

忘れられない 忘れられない そんな人だから

– SID, 「私は雨」 lyrics from JPopAsia

Hey all, Kohaku here. I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

As promised last week, today I’m rolling out a new blog feature, and I have some other smaller updates. Let’s get to it.


“Liner Notes”… What are they?

For a while, I’ve been searching for a more genuine way to highlight, explain, and interpret the writing pieces that I publish on this blog. Since the beginning I’ve mostly used journal entries to do that for the larger projects, but I wasn’t really happy with this system because I felt that the thoughts I put into the journals were too brief and clumsy and didn’t belong. So, starting today, I’m going to be publishing a new weekly feature that provides a broader, less regulated, and specifically dedicated platform for diving into the details of my work. In keeping with various music-related metaphors and names that I already use, I will call this new feature “Liner Notes”.

Liner Notes will publish every Sunday (at 6am PST, as usual) for the whole previous week’s worth of published material. The notes for each piece may include background information, key points to pay attention to, personal thoughts, possible interpretations, translations into English of anything in a different language, short essays on the intended meaning and message, and anything of that sort. Liner notes will also have links to the published version and any related pieces, such as B-sides or compilations that the piece is contained in, as well as general archival information such as the genre and date of publishing.

One valid question regarding this new feature is, why not post these notes daily? (One of my friends suggested that, so I will answer the question here). There are two main reasons why I won’t be doing that. First, they take a lot of time to write. Even though I post new writing pieces daily, the amount of free time and energy I have to write is not evenly distributed throughout the week. Because of that, I don’t think it would be sustainable for me to try to keep up with the liner notes day by day; it’s easier to work on them freely, whenever I can, and then consolidate them into a weekly post. The second reason is that I don’t want what’s contained in my liner notes to massively shape somebody’s first interpretation of a piece. When it comes to writing, music, and many other creative, artistic ventures, a lot has to do with a kind of back-and-forth between the creator and the audience. So – I’ll write something, you interpret it, then I’ll publish the liner notes, and if you want you can read and interpret those, too. But it starts with reading and interpreting the original piece yourself. At least, that’s my suggestion; it shouldn’t be a one-way road. The liner notes will be just supplementary information for anyone who wants to keep playing catch.


So, every Sunday… What about journal entries?

For a while now, journal entries haven’t been feeling good to me. They aren’t super genuine and don’t have too much substance, and it’s just hard to write them on weeks that I don’t have anything to write about. So, I’m going to put them aside for a bit. For now, liner notes will replace journal entries as the Sunday 6am serial.

My journal won’t immediately be gone. If I have something to say that I feel is genuine and valuable, I’ll make a new entry. If new entries keep coming, I might just turn it into a less-frequent serial, like a monthly thing. But if a long time passes with nothing and I’m enjoying the absence of this feature, I’ll probably retire it. I’m just going to test the waters and see, and if there’s a new update in the future, I’ll post about it.


what’s specifically happening

→ Today, after this journal entry was published, liner notes going back until May 25 were also published. Anyone who’s interested in seeing examples of this new feature or looking back at some older-but-still-recent work can take a look. You can just browse “Recent Posts,” but they are also under the new “Liner Notes” tab on the top menu.

→ Next week, Sunday July 5th: Journal entry #50, the fifth rendition of my ongoing Dinner Party project, will be published as the last weekly entry. Liner notes for that week’s writing will also be published simultaneously.

→ Going forward, liner notes will be posted every Sunday.


I’ll be going through the next few days trying to make sure that new pages and links work right; please let me know if you catch a mistake! I’m really excited for this new feature, and I hope others will enjoy it, too.

Take care,

KT

Entry #48 – New Feature Next Week

さよならまではもう少しだけ時間があるね
今日は何を話そうか

– SID, 「ホソイコエ」lyrics from JPopAsia

Hi all, it’s Kohaku. How are you?

I didn’t do too much of note this week – went to see my cousin, which was great, but other than that, nothing out of the ordinary. For the past few days, I have been really tired and overall not feeling great. That’s okay, though. I’m resting and sleeping a lot and hopefully things will start to look up.

Chasing Life With You finished yesterday, didn’t it? To be honest, for the longest time I have not been satisfied with the plot of this story. The ending as well – Taiga’s was better by a long shot! But it’s alright. It was a story that I wanted to write, and I feel like some valuable things did come out of it.

In next week’s journal entry, I’m planning to release and introduce a new blog feature and some updates. Please look forward to it! I’m pursuing what I feel is a more genuine relationship with this blog because I don’t want any part of it to become forced or inauthentic or a chore, but I also want to push myself to write better and more meaningful work. Anyway, until a week from now absolutely nothing is changing.

I haven’t a clue what I want to write this week. Since practically everything else is finished now, maybe I’ll dig in and write that final draft of To Walk in the Footsteps of Angels… we’ll see.

Take care,

KT

Entry #47 – Summer Is Here

やっと見つけた 新しい朝は 月日が邪魔をする
向かう先は 「次」じゃなくて 「過」ばかり追いかけた

– SID, 「Rain」
lyrics from lyricstranslate

Hey all, Kohaku here. I hope everyone’s doing well.

It looks like summer has arrived, work-wise. I’ve been playing a lot of music, and also playing a lot of games with my family. One of my friends sent me a link to watch a documentary on Sakamoto Ryuichi called CODA – it was really good, and I got a few pieces of wisdom out of it. I finished rewatching Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix. That was really nostalgic. I finished a great book, Ethan Watters’ Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche – really recommend it, it was definitely eye-opening and changed how I think about mental health and mental illness. I also came across a great band called SID, and I’ve been going through their discography on Spotify. Overall, it’s been a pretty good week.

Over the next few days I have a couple of virtual movie dates. I’ve been rewatching some of the old Ghibli films with my friend. There are still some Ghibli movies I’ve yet to watch, so maybe I’ll be able to watch those as well this summer. My cousins’ family is also coming over tomorrow, and I’m set to call one of my good friends sometime.

Writing-wise, I think this week was okay. Some good things, some not so good things. I wasn’t able to finish Chasing Life With You, but that’s fine. I don’t think I always write well when it’s forced, so I’m not going to force it. Hopefully it will finish in the next few weeks. Tomorrow, I want to write a mixed-language piece, and then after that a short story…

Take care of yourselves,

KT

Entry #46 – 「Season of Change」Releases Tomorrow

Hi all, Kohakuです. Hope everyone is doing okay.

I’ve been feeling kind of unsettled or conflicted with some stuff with regards to my writing and blog, but I haven’t had time to sit down and really think about it yet, so I haven’t made any decisions. I think it goes beyond the blog to encapsulate feelings of how I self-identify, how and for what reasons and in what ways I produce art – which are big questions, to say the least. Anyway, I’m going to think about it, and if I end up making any changes I’ll post them in my journal in the coming weeks.

For the time being, I have a new best-of compilation that’ll be released tomorrow. It’s called 「Season of Change」. I’ve never done a set tanka compilation before, but I figured I might as well, since I’ve actually written a lot of tanka over the past year. I had a good time reviewing all the poems I’ve written, picking out the good ones and deciding the story and the order. Tanka can be a powerful way of capturing a single moment’s intense, sometimes conflicting thoughts and emotions. That’s why I often default to tanka on days that I don’t have the time or energy to write anything else. I found that my list of tanka read very well as a brief but deep dive into what my life has been like over the past seven or so months – so I decided to put them into the compilation in the same exact order that I’d written them. Please look forward to it and let me know what you think.

Take care of yourself,

KT

Entry #45 – With Friends

Hi all, I hope you’re doing well today!

This week has been a bit busy and strange, and it looks like the next couple weeks will probably be busier. Still, I’m trying to spend a lot of time with my friends and family; I rewatched Kiki’s Delivery Service together with my dear friend I this morning. I’ve been playing piano a lot too – picked up some of my old sheet music and found some new ones as well, I would really love to do some ensemble work one of these days…

Writing-wise, I had a bit of a hard time this week. I want to finish Chasing Life With You before the summer really gets going, because I have some bigger summer projects in mind. Recently I’ve been wanting to write a story or something together with one of my old friends… R and I wrote a story together once, and I really want to do that again. I also want to do more short prose pieces, and some short stories.

While I remember, congratulations to all the students out there who have graduated from their schools this year~! Stay a student forever. Even after you leave school, never stop learning.

Let’s everyone do our best. I’m going to cut this short and go call up a friend. Take care,

Kohaku

Entry #44 – Site Revamp

原発が吹き飛ぼうとも 少年が自爆しようとも
その横で僕ら 愛を語り合う

– RADWIMPS, 「あいとわ」
lyrics from lyricstranslate

Hey all, Haku here, how’s everyone doing?

For this week, my main focus was revamping the blog website. I started working on it at the beginning of the week, and the majority of the updates rolled out last night. For today’s journal entry, I’m going to provide an overview of the changes I made and will make going forward 🙂


Why the Changes?

  • In terms of site design and the content of some pages, I was feeling like some of the stuff wasn’t really genuine to who I am and the reasons why I put this blog up in the first place, so I edited or eliminated them.
  • I wanted more control over the design and aesthetics of some areas of the site, so I needed to make some changes in order to do that.
  • I also wanted to make some adjustments to improve accessibility.

Two Things To Note

  1. I’m getting close to 400 posts on the blog. Because of that large quantity, for purposes of time and productivity efforts, I have not retconned all the changes all the way through to post #1. Most of the changes to individual posts went in only for the last couple months’ worth, and some only for the last couple weeks. Over the summer, I may go in and retcon and clean up everything, but it’s not something I’m really going to worry about right now, especially given the fact that the site will probably continue to evolve and change over time.
  2. For page- and site-wide changes, I tried to go in and do checks to make sure that all links and tabs are still working correctly, but I might have missed something. Let me know in the comments or in email if you find anything that doesn’t work right!

Overview of Site Updates

  • New About page.
  • New Longer Works page. Content is now collated by year.
  • The Daydreams, Zuihitsu, Poetry, Short Stories, Gallery, and Journal Entries tabs are now full pages instead of categories.
  • Added alternative text for almost all self-shot images anywhere on the blog.
  • Added images and quotes from some of my work across all blog pages.
  • Eliminated all widgets.
  • Set featured images for gallery posts.
  • Added manual excerpts for poetry posts and journal entries. Excerpts for poetry posts begin with their poem type in brackets, e.g. [Tanka] or [Free Verse], along with the first line of the poem. Excerpts for journal entries exclude the epigraph.

I might continue to make a few more changes into next week. My main focus right now, though, is finishing Chasing Life With You. Everybody take care, let me know how the site updates look!

KT

Entry #43 – Week In Review

<insert awesome guitar riff here>

– PATA, 「So Far」
look it up on Youtube!

Hey all, Kohaku here. Hope everyone’s doing well.

I passed this week trying to spend a lot of time with my friends and family. “Life is short, and you never know what tomorrow will bring”… I am really in this kind of mindset right now. I had a good time reaching out to and talking and playing games with my close friends. Some of them I hadn’t actually seen in months! From now on, I’m going to try to make these connections more often.

For the past few days I’ve been listening to a lot of new/new-ish music – Sads, Siam Shade, Kuroyume… I have Ra:IN’s first album playing right now; surprises me sometimes how good instrumental rock can be. Kizu showed up on my Youtube recommendations the other day, and after reading a bit about them online I started listening to some of their music as well. A lot of their stuff proved to be too dark for my taste and I wasn’t a huge fan of their vocalist at first, but after a while I gave them another try with their single 「黒い雨」and I thought it was actually pretty good. I don’t think I’m going to be putting them on my playlist, though; but Ra:IN and Siam Shade are probably going up. There are so many bands that I have yet to listen to, and it’s nice to be in the headspace where I can be happily exploring new music.

As far as writing goes, I got a lot done this week, which was really nice. I Will Carry You finished in time for my friend’s birthday – I think it’s somewhat unpolished, but the message is there. Like a lot of my other work, there are a lot of parts in it that are highly up to the reader’s interpretation, so I hope those who read it were able to take away something that is meaningful to them. Looking forward, I’m not sure what I’ll be putting out in the week to come; I might try to finish Chasing Life With You, if I have the time to sit down and write properly, but I don’t know if that’s really going to happen. I guess we’ll have to see.

I’m going to go watch some comedy or something. Everyone take care. Lots of love,

KT

Entry #42 – 「Re:construction」Releases Tomorrow

終わらない雨 抱きしめた 
夜が朝を向かえる
心はまだ濡れたまま
傷つくだけ 傷ついて 
解ったはずの答えを
どうしてまだ 問いかけてる?

– X Japan, 「The Last Song」
lyrics from lyricstranslate

Hey all, Kohaku here. I hope everyone had a great week and is staying safe and healthy and sane.

My week started out stressful and tiring, but it’s better now. For the past few days I’ve been trying to relax, recover, and get back into a more creative mood. I’ve been watching recordings of X Japan’s 2008 revival concerts – I’d really forgotten how much I love their live concerts, just the general feeling they give off and what they leave you with. It’s really something. I’m listening to their ballad collection right now as I write. My new set of tuning pegs should arrive later today, so sometime today or tomorrow I’ll be fixing my guitar, trying out new strings and hopefully I’ll be back to daily playing and practicing. I might try to find some new sheet music to learn for piano. We’ve also been watching lots of nature documentaries recently – a lot of the stuff released around Earth Day, and some of the old bigger series like Blue Planet as well.

So, last week I mentioned I’ll be working on a new prose-poetry collection for my friend’s upcoming birthday. I got two parts out in the past few days – if you didn’t catch them, you can check out the first one here. The overall collection is called I Will Carry You. I don’t think it’ll be a full ten parts, maybe just five or six, but it’s going pretty alright so far. I think I’ll have the third part up on Tuesday.

Tomorrow, I have a new poetry compilation for y’all. It’s called 「Re:construction」. Like most of my other compilations, it’s got a mixture of new poems and already-published poems of different styles. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but maybe I’ll give a bit of a very basic summary. The story in this one is about how we construct our lives, how we build up our various walls and barriers and self-limitations, how we construct the patterns in which we think about the world and about ourselves – and it’s about how we can recognize, change, manipulate those constructions so that we can live our own lives in a more loving and less limiting way. When I was organizing the compilation, I really wanted to add the extended poem Meditations into the mix. I ended up not, in part because it’s already been published in a paired work, and in part because it’s just long – but anyway, Meditations is related to the story of 「Re:construction」as well. I would love to hear y’all’s comments on the compilation after you read it, it’s really much more complex and open to interpretation than the summary I just gave, and I’d be very interested to know what other people got out of it. So, please look forward to it and check it out tomorrow when you get the chance!

Hope everyone takes care. Have a good week,

KT