Playlist: A Short Story

6:32. I open my eyes slowly to the gaze of the red flashing numbers on the bedside clock. I was dreaming about something, I can’t remember… A few moments pass and then I pull myself out of bed. Toilet, wash-up, breakfast. I find my place in line. Someone I don’t know is staring at me. In every room, there’s a clock.

7:33. I go to work. The people beside me are not my co-workers. No one speaks, and no one listens. I go back and forth mechanically. One of my non-co-workers goes away without warning. I don’t know where she is going.

8:34. I go outside. The field is large and spacious and empty. I walk around it a few times, whistling to myself quietly. No one is there to hear me. But there is still a clock on the fence. I walk until I’m too tired to continue walking, and then I sit down in the grass. There must be a groundskeeper, but I have never seen them.

9:35. Back to work. It’s a busy life I live. One of my non-co-workers is asleep on the floor. The clock ticks rhythmically. In an empty room, the sound of a ticking clock can drive one crazy. A cat slips in through the doorway, stops there as if observing the proceedings, and then vanishes.

10:36. Free time. I go back into my room and stare at the numbers on the clock. Something about them intrigues me. I still can’t remember what I had been dreaming about. I lay back on my bed to rest, but my eyes won’t close.

11:37. I get up to go to the toilet. Someone I don’t know is washing their hands. They stand there scrubbing for much longer than twenty seconds, and they leave the tap on. When they finally leave I take their place. There are no more paper towels. In place of the mirror, the clock stares back at me. I hum under my breath, a long-forgotten melody from my dream.

12:00. “Happy Birthday” is playing. I go to lunch. It’s my friend’s birthday, and everyone is singing. We bring out a cake and have a great feast. The cat comes back and we offer it cake. My supervisor tells a joke, and I start to laugh.

Joe Hisaishi’s “First Love”. We go to clean up after our lunch. I’m in charge of putting away the decorations. I go in and out of the cafeteria, taking away the balloons and party streamers. As I walk I notice that every room has a speaker. The girl I have a crush on spots me and smiles, and I smile back at her.

X Japan’s “Say Anything”. Back to work again. The cat comes and lays near my feet while I work. My supervisor says she has a terrible headache and goes to take a nap. The girl I have a crush on stands next to me, and we start talking.

Yiruma’s “Reminiscent”. Free time. I go back to my room. Someone somewhere is playing the piano, and the speakers amplify it. I lay back on my bed, close my eyes, and drift off to sleep. There’s no need to count sheep anymore. When I wake up I remember what I was dreaming about.

SID’s “Otegami”. I sit at my desk and start to compose a letter to my parents. Outside my room, several friends are chatting. I listen to the sound of their voices as I write. The cat finds its way into my room and leaps onto my bed. I sketch a picture of it on the back side of my letter.

Brahms’ “Intermezzo in A, Op.118 No.2”. It’s the last work session of the day. My supervisor comes back, saying she feels better. We finish working early. A friend gives me a handknit sweater as a present. I put it on and go to mail my letter. Naturally, the cat comes along.

Sakamoto Ryuichi’s “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence”. We line up for dinner. My roommate is next to me in line, and I hug her. The girl I have a crush on sits next to me at the table. She complements my sweater. The cat curls up in my lap, and I put the speaker on full blast. The food tastes great, and I’m happy. There was more that I wanted to do today, but that’s alright, I think. In this case, there will always be tomorrow.

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,


Entry #42 – 「Re:construction」Releases Tomorrow

終わらない雨 抱きしめた 
傷つくだけ 傷ついて 
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,


Entry #40 – Dinner Party #4

Will you stay with me
また溢れ出す All my tears
Forever Love
Forever Dream
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,


Entry #35 – This Week’s Writing, Reading, & Music

ああ 負けないで 泣かないで

– Angela Aki, 「手紙〜背景十五の君へ〜」
lyrics from Genius

Hey all, Kohaku here. I hope everyone is healthy, doing well, social distancing and keeping their heads up in these rapidly changing times. As I wrote last time, it’s all too easy for people to become divided and start hurting or giving up on each other when life gets tough, so do make sure to stay connected with your loved ones as well as with strangers – don’t forget that we are all human.

Being stuck inside now and not having as much to do as usual, I’ve had a lot of time to write this week. So, I thought for today’s journal entry I’d first talk a little bit about the pieces I published these past few days.

On Monday and Tuesday I published two tanka, separation and chasing you as I. As tanka generally are, these short poems attempt to capture specific emotions in singular moments of time, but also expand that time frame or worldview into something more complex. My day-to-day tanka usually isn’t very good – I don’t spend too much time on them, and often when I publish tanka it’s because I didn’t have time to sit down and write a story or something longer. I also struggle a bit fitting English rhythmically into the structure, and most of my tanka to date has been in English. Occasionally a real gem will come out, though; 永遠の歌 from last year comes to mind. The two tanka this week, as you might expect, had a lot to do with feelings of separation, loss, change, and endings.

On Wednesday I published a free verse poem called reconstruction ~18/25/74~. I had a lot of fun with this one, playing with lines, spacing, shifting POVs and interrelated storylines in a way I haven’t really done before. Looking at the overall story, I think a lot of things remain very ambiguous and up to the reader’s interpretation – but doesn’t that make it more interesting? What do you guys think about the story, about the characters, about the meaning of 18/25/74? I’d be interested to hear what other people took away from it.

On Thursday I published a short story called Affinity. It was my first short story in a while. I really love writing short stories, they’re good fun, but they take a bit more time and energy than most other single publications. Affinity came out a lot better than I thought it would. Put very simply, the story is about the complex relationship between life and death, between desires for life and desires for death, and how sometimes they’re not as mutually exclusive or oppositionary as we like to think. I enjoyed writing the characters and their thoughts against an unclear backdrop of wartime martial law.

On Friday and Saturday I published the intro and first two parts of a new serial prose work called Synchronicity. In a way, it’s a partner or second side to Affinity, although that connection may not be totally clear yet. The epigraph to Synchronicity is a tanka I published some time ago called driver, rider, which gave birth to the beginning ideas that eventually led to this new work. How do you guys like it so far? I think my thoughts and feelings, what I want to convey with this piece, cannot reach you all yet with just these two first parts out. It’s more of a work that needs to be taken in as a whole to be truly understood. I’ll be working on it in the coming weeks and hopefully as each new part is written and published, more of my thoughts and feelings can be realized.

Besides writing, I’ve been listening to a lot of music. Sometime last week or the week before, I finally listened to ToshI’s solo cover album 「IM A SINGER」. I also listened to its sequel, but I like the first one better. It made me remember how much I like ToshI’s voice, and I enjoyed his renditions of familiar songs. For some reason I kept hitting replay, and now Angela Aki’s 手紙〜背景十五の君へ〜 is irreparably stuck in my head! Isn’t it just a very calming and uplifting song? I think the message of this song, to listen to yourself and believe in yourself and keep on living in the present even in the hardest of times, is very important and very relevant to what’s going on right now. Yesterday or the day before I also started listening again to exist†trace, one of my favorite vkei bands. It was my first time listening to them in a while, since a lot of their songs got removed from Spotify and YouTube for I’m not sure what reason (does anyone know? please do tell me). I’m remembering again how much I like their music, especially their 2014 album 「WORLD MAKER」and some songs off 「Vanguard -Of the Muses-」 and 「Twin Gate」. And right now, as I’m writing, I’m listening to Diaura’s 「FOCUS」after just having finished their debut album 「Genesis」. Diaura is new to me; I came across them literally earlier today while I was listening to a random YouTube vkei/jrock playlist, and I really liked their song that happened to be on it, so now I’m going through their discography. We’ll see if this shapes up to be my next music obsession! Oh, and this morning I saw a video on YouTube which was a wagakki (Japanese traditional instruments) band’s cover performance of X JAPAN’s 紅. At first it made me laugh (in a good way), but a minute or two in I couldn’t stop whispering “cool…” haha!

Sometime this week I started reading Yukio Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask. I’m probably 75% of the way through it, so I’ll be done by next week. I haven’t actually read any of Mishima’s works before, although Spring Snow has been sitting on my desk for quite some time at the recommendation of one of my younger friends. Confessions of a Mask reminds me in a lot of ways of Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human – the prose is blunt, incredibly honest, and at times intellectual and philosophical. I can’t tell if I like this style yet, but it’s a good story, at any rate, and an important one.

Well, I think that’s a long enough summary of what I’ve been doing this week, at least the stuff that directly relates to my writing and art in general. What have you all been up to? In many countries, as in mine, a lot of people are under quarantine or lockdown or other stay-at-home orders – my recommendation is, keep your heads up, love each other, and don’t waste this time. Do something with your new daily life that is meaningful to you, to your loved ones, to the world. We don’t know what will happen next.

Take care of yourselves, as always.


Entry #31 – Feeling Normal; Recent Music and Art Projects

移り行く世界は 片隅の君に会えて嬉しい
溢れそうな思いを 言葉にできなかったよ
いつかまた会えたら もっとうまく伝えられるかな

– L’Arc~en~Ciel, 「GOOD LUCK MY WAY」
lyrics from JpopAsia

Hi everyone, it’s Kohaku. Hope you’re all doing well.

A few days ago, one of my dear friends got back in touch with me. They aren’t always around working internet nowadays, so it had been a while since we really talked; I’m incredibly happy. Simply put, they make me feel normal again. They make me feel like myself, and once we had both poured out onto each other all of our recent activities and hardships, I had a sudden sense of relief and a lot of the emotional burdens that had been making me feel not like myself just vanished. So, I’m glad to say that I’m feeling a lot better compared to the past few weeks. What about you all? Who, or what, makes you feel like you – and have you connected with them recently?

Right now, I’m listening to LUNA SEA’s newest album, CROSS. I listened to it once soon after it came out, but honestly didn’t pay all that much attention; I’ve never been a huge fan of LUNA SEA, so I was just casually checking it out rather than really taking in the art. However, this time I’m listening to it much more closely, and I have to say that it’s growing on me! Some tracks are really very nice, and as far as my limited experience with the band goes, the whole album has a very typical calm, dreamy LUNA SEA vibe. My favorite tracks are probably「THE BEYOND」and 「悲壮美」.

Also, it’s pretty unrelated, but one of my friends has been having me listen to BTS’s new album lately, since they’re a fan of the band. It’s not my kind of music, for sure, and I’ve never listened to much K-pop before… I guess I’m broadening my musical experience though, which is always good!

In the past week or so, I’ve been exploring ways to actually use my art, connect with other artists, and put my creations out into the world. I’m thinking of sending my paper cranes to an organization I’ve recently come across called Tsuru for Solidarity. Built on the memories and lessons of Japanese American WWII internment, Tsuru for Solidarity is a social justice project that brings strings of thousands of cranes to protests across the United States to peacefully stand against the detention of immigrants and refugees and related issues. I think their intentions and achievements have been incredible, and since I keep making cranes but have nothing better to do with them, I’ll probably string them and send them along to this org!

As for my writing, I saw a flyer some days back calling for QTPOC (queer and trans people of color) submissions to an art reception at my local Cross-Cultural Center. The deadline for submissions is in three weeks. I’m planning on sending in Love Letters to the World We Made – once it’s fully completed, of course. Hopefully I’ll have it done by then. The writing itself isn’t that hard, and each part of the collection is pretty short, but it’s emotionally heavy and I don’t always want to work on it. It’ll be really exciting if I can get it in for this event though, so I’ll do my best.

Alright, that’s pretty much all I had to say. Have you all been doing anything interesting lately? I feel a little more secure now that I’m moving forward, and I’d love to hear what you are going through, too.

Take care of yourselves and see you next time.


Entry #27 – Lunar New Year, Sad Songs?

Hi everyone! Kohaku here. Happy Lunar New Year! Is everyone doing well?

There have been so many things going on lately. As the world around us changes and we step forward into a new year, make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your loved ones. Sometimes, that’s all we can ever do.

Earlier this week I got into a kind of mood, and made a new playlist on YouTube to match it. I thought I’d share some of the songs on that playlist with you all. Many of the songs or their lyrics aren’t necessarily sad (though some are), and some of them are actually quite hopeful. They just, altogether, put me into that place where you’re stuck with kind of yearning, bittersweet, reminiscent-type feelings, where you can’t quite name all of the emotions in your head and you can’t quite explain why you’re feeling them. Give some of them a listen and maybe you’ll understand what I mean. At any rate, these are all really good songs, so if you’re looking for some more music to listen to, give these a try!

→ Orenji no Taiyou (GACKT & HYDE)
→ Kotoba ni Dekinai (Off Course)
→ e’mu~for my dear~ (GACKT)
→ 道化師のソネット (Sada Masashi)
→ あいとわ (RADWIMPS)
→ 夜の淵 (RADWIMPS)
→ P.S. I love u (GACKT)
→ Without You (X JAPAN)
→ Misery (hide)
→ Mata koko de aimashou (YELLOW FRIED CHICKENz)

I’ll stop there, haha…

What about you guys? When you get into this kind of mood, what are the songs that you listen to? Let me know; I’m always looking for more music.

Take care of yourselves~


Entry #25 – Recent Artist Inspirations

Hi everyone, it’s Kohaku. I hope you all had a good week.

There’s certainly a lot of tension in the world right now – in all kinds of places, for all kinds of reasons. The U.S. and Iran, Iran and the Ukraine, Taiwan’s elections, Hong Kong, North Korea – just to name a few. I really wish that humans could just learn to love one another, to do away with war and violence, to tolerate and coexist. Do you think it’s possible? Can we save ourselves? I really wonder sometimes.

Anyway, as promised, I’m going to talk about my recent artist inspirations today. I think art is incredibly important for people to get in touch with their emotions and develop strong connections with each other. Art can teach us love and peace, tolerance and coexistence, creativity and sensitivity. So, I always try to continuously expose myself to new art and artists, and at the same time I make an effort to pay attention to what goes into my own art – whether that’s writing, photography, painting, or anything else.

Most of what I’ve been doing recently has to do with music. Here are the music artists that I’ve mainly been listening to recently.


I think YOHIO is incredible. His singing voice is great, in English and in Japanese, and the amount of effort and creativity he puts into his music videos always impresses me. He’s very young, too, and with the quantity and quality of the content he continues to put out, he’s quickly shaping up to be one of my favorite visual kei artists. I’m looking forward to his new album!


RADWIMPS never ceases to amaze me. Not visual kei, but I first got into them after watching 「君の名は。」 years ago, and have been steadily working through their discography since. From upbeat soft rock jams, to the annual introspective pieces based on 3.11 like 「夜の淵」 and 「カイコ」, their variety of songs and general style and lyrics really appeal to me. Recently I discovered some of their older songs, as well as a lot of songs I’ve just never listened to. I was stunned after viewing the music video for 「光」. It’s a great song, plus LGBTQ representation… there goes my heart. Here’s the MV below:

~ Yellow Fried Chickenz

I started listening to some of their songs again. I think YFCz was a really interesting band. I loved the diversity and quality of the members, and really enjoyed hearing dual vocals. Some of their songs sound a bit crazy, and it can seem sometimes like the musicians were really just fooling around and having a good time, but then out of nowhere they’ll hit you with a tragic heartthrob like 「Mata koko de aimashou」… Look that one up. The video makes me cry!

~ Kiyoharu / Kuroyume

Most recently, I’ve been listening to Kuroyume and vocalist Kiyoharu’s solo works. I love his voice, and the overall sound and style of the band. I can’t say anything much more than that yet, since I haven’t listened to very much for very long, but I’ll be working through their discography in the coming weeks. Kind of late to the party, but it’s never too late for music!

That’s all I can think of for right now really. I want to keep finding more artists to listen to, as well as diving deeper into the works of the artists I already love. How about you all? Who have you been watching, reading, or listening to recently? What’s going into your art?

Take care of yourselves. Lots of love and be at peace.


Entry #22 – 「VANGUARD」Reflection, 「Anniversary」Releases Tomorrow, Christmas

Hi everyone! It’s Kohaku. I hope you all had a great week.

The poetry compilation 「VANGUARD: Flagbearer of Nocturnal Skies」released this past Monday. How was it? I’m pretty happy with how it turned out; there’s some really good stuff in there. Here’s a question – what do you think the message of the whole compilation is? In other words, what did you take away after reading it? Overall messages are important, and while I certainly know how I interpreted it, I’d like to know how you guys interpreted it too.

Anyway, as I promised, there’s another poetry compilation coming out tomorrow. It’s called 「Anniversary ~2019~」, and unlike other compilations, it’s composed entirely of already published material, just gathered and put together in a new format. It’ll be longer than usual, too, and it will have a preface, something I haven’t included since 「DOUBLE-SIDED」. It feels like it’s been forever since then… time really does fly. Well, look forward to the compilation coming out tomorrow, and let me know what you think!

Christmas is coming up, for those who celebrate it. I hope you all are able to spend some meaningful time with your families; I’m definitely doing my best with mine. Take care of yourselves, and reserve the strength you need to make it through the holidays and the end of the year. It gets tough around this time, doesn’t it? For some more than others, sure, but passing into the new year can be pretty rough for us all. Just do your best to keep moving forward.

Anyone have any favorite Christmas music? I don’t like the music that gets played a lot where I live, not because the songs are bad necessarily, but because they play the same five or six songs over and over again, every year, everywhere. I just want more variety, that’s all. I don’t really celebrate the holiday though, so it’s not as if it matters terribly to me. Well, for the past few years whenever it gets around this time, I tend to pull up and re-listen to these two tracks: GACKT’s「12月のLove Song」, and Makihara Noriyuki & Hamada Masatoshi’s「Chicken Rice」. They’re my personal Christmas staples.

I think next week I might talk about my recent artist inspirations. I’ve been listening to new music recently – it’s important to always keep learning and exploring new things. That’s what it means to keep moving forward. Well, until then~

Take care,