Archive for April, 2007

What happens after you flush?

April 27, 2007

If you want to know the answer to the above question (or just want a laugh), you might want to check out:

It’s refreshing (if I can use that word in this context) to see activism use humour to get its message out.

Manga me

April 24, 2007

Here it is! A manga portrait of me done by artist Nina Matsumoto (aka space coyote):

manga me

Check out more of Nina’s art at Recently, Nina’s manga version of The Simpsons (posted at caught the eye of Matt Groening, and she was asked to do the art for a Simpsons comic parodying the manga cartoon style. Her next project is a manga of her own creation. I’m lucky she managed to fit in my portrait commission. I don’t look much like a manga hero, but I still like it much better than my photographs!


April 19, 2007

I haven’t yet been lucky enough to attend a blossom party in Japan, but here’s a glimpse into one that my friend Jean-Pierre enjoyed last week:

blossoms along the Ugui River, Japan

(preparing for a barbeque under the blossoms beside the Ugui River in Shiga Ken)

blossoms lit by lanterns

(Lanterns along the river light up the blossoms as the sun sets)

Meanwhile, here in Vancouver, I’m well into the editing process of my new novel that takes place in Japan (unfortunately, research took me to Japan after the blossoms had finished last year). Also, Manga artist Nina Matsumoto is doing a manga portrait of me, which I’ll include in the back of the book. I’m really excited to see how it turns out….

The blossoms are here!

April 7, 2007

blossomsI like the way people in Japan celebrate cherry blossoms. Families and friends gather under the flowering trees to stroll, take photos, admire the blossoms and picnic (it is not all quiet and contemplation, though, as there is often a lot of alcohol and the occassional portable karaoke machine).

Cherry blossom viewing has its own term, hanami. A variation of hanami is yozakura, night-time viewing. People hold parties under the trees at night, and many a haiku has been written about cherry blossoms in the moonlight. In the old days, lanterns and torches would have been added to shine light on the blossoms. Today, people bring portable generators to power spot lights. People eat, drink and talk and occassionally look up and comment on the beauty of the blossoms. The short lifespan of the flowers makes the occassion particularly special.

street blossomsCelebrating the blossoms here in Canada is mostly a solitary activity (though I’m happy to say, the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is working to make it more a part of our culture — at least here in the lower mainland). For now, I celebrate by going for extra walks down streets lined with blossoming trees and paying visits to my favourite trees. It’s hard to hold a party under the blossoms when most of the flowering trees are along streets, but just standing under them is a party for the senses.

I took the above photos the last week in March, then on April 1st and 2nd, it snowed (like nature was playing an April Fool’s joke), prompting this haiku:

snow on pink blossoms

winter, reluctant to leave

turns for one last kiss

Now, only four days later, it’s as warm as summer, and people are wearing shorts and t-shirts. It wont last, but I think it’s finally safe to say Good-bye Winter!

Vancouver Cherry Blossom site: