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 #40 – Dinner Party #4

Will you stay with me
風が過ぎ去るまで
また溢れ出す All my tears
Forever Love
Forever Dream
このままそばにいて
夜明けに震える
心を抱きしめて
Oh Stay with me

– X Japan, 「Forever Love」
lyrics from jpopasia

Hey all,

Kohaku here. Is everyone feeling alright? I hope you’re all taking care of yourselves and each other during this time. Today’s journal entry, being the 40th, is the 4th rendition of my Dinner Party project.

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

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. New entries since last time are in bold, and all names are linked to their websites/pages on Wiki. In no particular order:

  1. Yuzuru HANYU (羽生結弦)
  2. Yoshiki (林佳樹)
  3. Hans LINDAHL
  4. GACKT (大城 ガクト)
  5. hide (松本秀人)
  6. Hayao MIYAZAKI (宮崎駿)
  7. Jonathan VAN NESS
  8. Haruki MURAKAMI (村上春樹 )
  9. Yojiro NODA (野田洋次郎)
  10. Chachamaru (藤村幸宏)

Recently, I’ve been going back to a lot of my old and steady favorites, especially in music. I think I really need that right now. So there hasn’t been that much in the way of exploring new things, and nothing significant enough to warrant an entirely new entry into my list. For sure, that’s not in itself a bad thing. Doing this public check-in every ten weeks makes me want to have at least one new entry every time, and that does encourage me to keep broadening my horizons as an artist and a person, but it probably won’t always happen, and I know I need to make sure I’m making an authentic list each time and not being unduly influenced.

This time, hide is back on my list. I’ve been starting to listen to X Japan again, since that’s emotionally where I’m at, and I find their music both very painful and very healing. Hide is an inspiration to me for his personality and his skills as a guitarist and artist, made all the more salient by the tragic circumstances of his life and death. I’ve been learning his lead guitar part on the acoustic version of X Japan’s Rose of Pain. It makes me so sad, but also helps me feel better with where I’m at.

And now, what about you? What would your dinner party list look like right now? Who would you put on it and why? Follow the original rules, follow my version of the rules, or just do away with rules entirely – whatever list you make is still going to be important and telling, and I do think it’s a good project to do once in a while.

Right now, with a lot of folks in quarantine or in the hospital, a lot of people risking their lives in essential services, a lot of people losing their jobs and salaries and trapped inside with their families, it makes sense for a lot of people to be feeling stuck. But it’s important that we all do our best to keep moving forward. Keep your eyes on the horizon, that’s what I think – and dinner party is a great project for making sure that that’s the case.

Take care of yourselves,

KT

Entry #30 – Dinner Party #3

I have no plan but that’s alright
Can you trust me when I’m mad
Have no time to set things right
Can you love me when I’m sad

– HYDE, “Midnight Celebration”
lyrics from Genius

Hey folks, it’s Kohaku. How are you doing? Hopefully this week has treated you well. Everything seems to be stacking up again… you all make sure to take care of yourselves. Do something that makes you happy today.

Well, this is the thirtieth journal entry, which means it’s time for the third installment of my Dinner Party Project. For those who haven’t seen them and want to read them, here are links to the first two:
Dinner Party #1 (contains full explanation of the project and its history)
Dinner Party #2

If you haven’t come across this project before, and don’t want to check out the earlier versions, here’s a short 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, because, as always, I’ve been actively seeking out new inspirations and learning about new things. 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.”

Alright, here we go with my third list. As before, new entries are bolded, and all names are linked to their websites/Wiki pages. In no particular order:

  1. Yuzuru HANYU (羽生結弦)
  2. Yoshiki (林佳樹)
  3. Hans LINDAHL
  4. GACKT (大城 ガクト)
  5. Holland (고태섭)
  6. Hayao MIYAZAKI (宮崎駿)
  7. Jonathan VAN NESS
  8. Haruki MURAKAMI (村上春樹 )
  9. Yojiro NODA (野田洋次郎)
  10. Chachamaru (藤村幸宏)

What do you guys think? Anyone familiar?

If you haven’t heard of any of these people, I definitely recommend doing a quick bit of research to learn more about them. These people aren’t on here just because “I like their music” or other surface reasons of that kind; they’ve gotten onto my top 10 because of something much more meaningful. So, do check them out when you’ve got the time.

What about you all? What does your Dinner Party list look like right now? Who would be on it, and why?

Take care of yourselves. Lots of love and many hugs. I’m hoping this week will be better than the last.

KT

Entry #29 – Haku’s Love Life?!…

我们爱的没有错
只是美丽的独秀太折磨
她说无所谓
只要能在夜里 翻来覆去的时候有寄托

– JJ Lin, “她说”
lyrics from MusicAcrossAsia

Hey everyone, Kohaku here. How was your week?

Gosh, a lot has happened since last week’s journal… I don’t even know what to say. I guess I’m struggling with my love life. It’s kind of crazy and I don’t really want to talk about it, since I haven’t really discussed my love life at all on this blog and I’m still trying to process what has happened, but anyway I thought I’d just mention that stuff has been going on and that’s why I might seem to be not totally present as a writer right now. Sorry if some of the things I’ve been putting out have not really been up to par with my usual work. I’m going to try to get back to my normal headspace in the coming days.

At any rate, as you may have noticed, I decided to start my journal entries from now on with a quote from a song or poem or something that reflects my current mood. I’ll try it for a few times and see how I like it. I’m probably not always going to discuss the song, but this is the first time, so why not? This week’s song, “她说” (“She Says”), is by Singaporean singer-songwriter JJ Lin. One of my high school friends introduced me to his music a few years back, and I really loved his poetic lyrics and lyrical style. I haven’t been listening to very much Mandarin or Taiwanese-language music recently, but as I mentioned in my last journal entry, I was binging Autumn’s Concerto last weekend and that got me back into a lot of Taiwanese songs I hadn’t listened to in forever. I feel like the four lines I quoted up there really reflect my ridiculous love life struggles right now. (If you don’t understand Mandarin and you want to know what they say, you can click on the citation and that will take you to the site I copied the lyrics from, which also has an English translation.)

Anyway, while I do my best on my end to figure my life out, let’s keep moving on. Next week’s journal entry, being the 30th, will be the third installment of my Dinner Party project. A week or two after, I’ll have another poetry compilation ready to publish. I’ll also be working on a project I began spontaneously this week without any announcement; it’s called Love Letters to the World We Made, and the first part came out on Friday. As far as I can tell right now, it’s going to be mainly prose/prose-poetry, and each part will be essentially a non-traditional “love letter” to someone who has massively influenced my life. I’m actually pretty excited to work on it. It’s going to mean a lot of introspection and reflection for me, but as I’ve been reminded by recent events, it’s about time. Anyway, look forward to whenever the next part comes out, and hopefully it’ll shape up into a nice collection by the time it’s done.

I’d better get to work on these projects! You all take care of yourselves. Talk to you again soon.

K.T.

Entry #20 – Dinner Party #2

Hi everyone, Kohaku here, I hope you all had a good week. How’s December turning out for you?

It’s been ten weeks, and ten journal entries, since I first talked about my Dinner Party project. If you weren’t here then or don’t remember, you can read details about the background of the project and my first list here: Entry #10 – Dinner Party. But for those who don’t want to, I’ll just quickly summarize what the project actually is. 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.

Anyhow, I thought ten weeks later is a pretty good time to publish a new list. There are some new people on it, because, as always, I’ve been actively seeking out new inspirations and learning about new things. 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.

So, here we go with my second list. New entries are bolded, and like before, I’ve linked their Wiki pages or websites so you can read a quick basic bio on them if you’re interested.

In no particular order:

  1. Yuzuru HANYU (羽生結弦)
  2. Yoshiki (林佳樹)
  3. Hans LINDAHL
  4. GACKT (大城 ガクト)
  5. YOHIO (Kevin Johio Lucas Rehn EIRES)
  6. Hayao MIYAZAKI (宮崎駿)
  7. Yojiro NODA (野田洋次郎)
  8. Haruki MURAKAMI (村上春樹 )
  9. HYDE (寶井秀人)
  10. Chachamaru (藤村幸宏)

How is it? Have you heard about them before – the new entries, or the older ones too if this is your first time?

You can learn a lot about a person by studying the people they admire. That’s one reason I decided to start publishing this project on my blog. If you want to know the values that I care about, the people who inspire me and my work, this is a big part of it.

And now, again, what about you? What does your list look like, right now? If you made a list last time, has it changed since then? Who is inspiring you and your work right this moment? This week, think about that again. It’s important to reflect on these things.

I’ve got three compilations and another project that’ll be released in the last three weeks of December, so stay tuned. Take care of yourselves!

KT