Sunday, May 22, 2016

Culture Shock to da System

Revisiting this blog after a few years, I realized I haven't posted very many of the Japanese DnA podcast episodes, which are an absolute delight to me. Here is one with my friends Dee and Lindsay; please enjoy!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Bunny cafe

It has been a while since I posted here, but I am organizing the last of my files from my Japanese phone, and I thought I would post this video I took at the bunny cafe in Nagoya. It's a locally-owned delight, and can be found near Yaba-cho station in downtown Nagoya. There are probably 20-some rabbits you can ask to play with, or you can just see them hopping around on the floors in their closed-in play areas. You pay about ¥1500 for unlimited time, I think, and the price comes with some snacks to feed the rabbits. The cafe has great bunny-themed food (for instance, a spaghetti dish that has a butter pat in the shape of a bunny — a bunny pat?!), as well as adorable hand-crafted goods. I really wanted to buy a mug with the handle in the shape of bunny ears! You can check out some of their goods at the website: Usagi-to Cafe.

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