Friday, May 9, 2014

Chromatic Us

"Chromatic Us"
by Alex Furukawa

In a backyard the earth and sky
Made music out of ivy lives
I loved you once, just for a while —
A while is just enough.

I wait for hours colored chai,
for days that smell of clean and white
I wait in dreams that last all night
And wake to wait for light

My blessing is your secret kiss
In the teacher's room — how I will miss
     the time of our togetherness;
The love we make is art.

I walked to brunch in your red shoes
So then my slippers you could use
Our love grew leaves inside a school
And we bloom in dreamy rooms.

© 2014

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Red Sun Queen

"Red Sun Queen"
by Alex Furukawa

The queen of this red sun-soaked land
Wears a yellow dress and a crown of jet black hair
She's called Reina, 4 years old
and the season is kisetsu, sakura cherry pink

The royal purple firework princess and I had a brawl
Super smash mêlée
She's not a peach
Not "Momotaro" either
She's the American purple heart bleeder
(And I spilled water on her electrical outlets)
Leaving in a hurry — don't let's
     shout goodbye
in the red sun court
I am just
the Foolish hearted
to the king.

© 2014

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Not Sorry About Body Language

In Japan, I moved for a brief time into a shared house with a majority of Asian housemates. We had a housewarming party, and I'm so glad that I had my American friend Pennsylvania with me, and another multicultural Westerner from Germany. We were able to make each other feel comfortable when it turns out that we did a lot of cultural faux pas. Hopefully not too many.

The reason I say this is that, I just realized, a full day after the party, that the body language that is considered rude in Japan happens to coincide pretty unfairly with the openness of American body language. Totally shouganai (oh well), and I think I made a bad impression. Not everyone knows this stuff, so take a look at this page about body language in Japanese, though I wouldn't say it's the end-all be-all reference:

Our American open body language seems to be associated with laziness and arrogance in Japanese body language. Can you see the parallels in the link above?

I am annoyed and frustrated that I had no context for the offense I think I made. Frustrating! Fortunately, there were a few world travelers in the house who understand that American body language is my first language, even before English. So I can't help it if I associate the thumbs-up with anything good — how was I supposed to know it means "man" in Japanese?

And to think of all the mistakes I've made in kids classes with parents watching. Not good for anyone... I think this may need to be remedied in company training. It's important not to overlook these kind of sensitive issues. Now that I have left Japan, there's nothing much I can do besides make blog posts and try to propagate knowledge of the issue! I'm thankful for sites like the one above. Make sure to be a good traveler when you go abroad, and try to find out about issues like this.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Tortoise Shell

"Tortoise Shell"
by Alex Furukawa

Humbly take this tortoise shell
A Grecian urn cracked then remade;
My home is your embrace.

And with this shell I redesign
The colored PAINtings from my mind.

Before we wake in love's sweet dreams
We must remake mosaic scenes
Of San Francisco, hills and pillows
Rooms and us in little hollows

The shell I carry on my back
Reminds me duly of the fact —
although we travel "there and on" —
that you're my heart,

               forever song.

© 2014


by Alex Furukawa

In the white cloud of a hospital bed
I sing anthems of my life ahead.

The boys are dragon guardians, my human life-form
The guitar hero sings my name over text
(We won't be having any drama or sex)
And the angel Gabe looks out for my
Grandmother-charoit (white cycle-steed)
     (my Bridgestone bike)
My mAn.... is my prince rock
Though I'm sorry I stalked him
Facebook, phone book, long books
I read in French to
passer les heures
et j'y recherche la source du bonheur

We are fire-breathers reborn as turtles
Our homes wherever we rockets are hurtled

And here is my shell, this sterile cusp
of the living and the gone

© 2014

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Understanding Boys/Men (and My Single Mom)

When the edge of spring awakens
A woman needs to build a home
So she tends what's often breaking

In a home with men who run
She flies in dreams
Focused on one

There is a saying so far back
And men refuse to let them know
That everything a woman lacks

A man must learn to grow.

And so, she shouts of what she feels
The names and songs and movie reels
In hopes that he will get a clue

But first he does not understand
That being told ain't for a man
It is the woman's job to do
What only loving women do

She brings her talent to the house
She drapes the windows with her blouse
What things she lacks she must invent
Until the man she does resent.

Because she chooses only warriors
Those who stand and hear what doors hear
Secrets open, worlds of one
The woman speaks and Man is dumb.

© 2014 AYF

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter Illumination

We caught the fall colors just in time — and at night, too!
Japan does Christmas lights right. There is a tradition of bedecking public places in amazing light displays in the winter, and one of the most highly recommended displays was in Nabana no Sato, a town in Kuwana city, Mie prefecture. In November, two of my friends and I took a train and then a bus to the big park featuring the illuminations.

We saw some gorgeous displays, like the fall-colored trees above, and two full tunnels with endless fairy lights twinkling overhead. There was even a small-scale Mt. Fuji that changed color schemes and simulated the sunset and sunrise.

There were tons of food stalls selling hot foods as well as crepes and Turkish kebab, but I was on the hunt for yaki imo, a steaming hot sweet potato famously eaten toasty warm when out and about in the Japanese winter. The steep ¥2000 entry to the light festival included two food vouchers, but I jealously guarded my second voucher in hopes of finding that special potato! I kept my eyes peeled but didn't see any within the park itself. I was so disappointed when we made the entire circuit around the displays, only to come to the exit and realize I must have missed it. There was no time to go back, since we needed to catch the bus back to the train station. Instead, I ran to get myself a consolation crepe with the voucher.

I had a stroke of luck as we headed to the bus stop, and we spotted not one but two yaki imo stands! So that's where they'd been hiding! I snapped one up and happily snacked on it. Yaki imo has a soft mild flavor and an earthy purplish skin. That potato was huge though; I couldn't finish it, so when we arrived back in Nagoya, I placed it near one of the sleeping homeless men on Sakura-dori (a main, central road) in hopes they might welcome some Japanese comfort food. I felt guilty that I had already eaten part of it, but I hate to be wasteful, and I would rather just offer it (even if he wasn't going to eat it) than throw it away. The food waste and lack of sustainability in Japan is another topic for another day... just think of how much electricity is wasted by the illumination we enjoyed... yikes.

Despite it being a little excessive, I'm so glad we went to the illumination. It was my friend Iowa's last night in Japan, so Pennsylvania and I kept her company while she packed, and we even made off with some of the possessions she wanted to give away! We still miss her extroverted personality and funny commentary on our adventures, since Pennsylvania and I are both introverts. I hope Iowa had a good last night in Japan!