Fiction & Poetry

My Year of Meats: An excerpt

Year of Meats

It was Kato, my old boss at the TV production company in Tokyo where I had gotten my first job, strangulating English sound bites into pithy Japanese subtitles. Now, he said, he had a new program and could use my help.

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Last Man Standing

bonni rambatan illustration last man standing header crop

These young fellows nowadays, I tell you—not an iota of respect for their betters! These whippersnappers are so horrid, so horribly rude: they’ll look past you on the road, they won’t take any notice of you at all…

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By Any Other Name…

History of the Kaifeng Israelites

Tiberiu Weisz contends that contact between the Hebrews and the Chinese started probably sometime around 980BCE. If this is true, Israelite presence would have left traces in the historical records kept by the Chinese since their earliest dynasties.

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Words Necessary and Unnecessary

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Translating out of one’s original language into a second language is a risky endeavor. In the case of translator Goro Takano, with this exquisite and slightly quirky bilingual chapbook-object, he acquits himself well.

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Kazuki Takizawa’s Color From Green

auric shelter 2

While KJ is not primarily a literary publication, poetry has always been a vital component in our content mix. This poem by Elena Karina Byrne, along with others by Jane Hirshfield, Arkaye Kierulf, Tamara Nicholl-Smith and (in translation) Shinkichi Takahashi, is featured in KJ 95 (Wellbeing).

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Confessions of a Sushi Boat

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I’m so tired of them washing me, or not washing me properly. The grains of rice tend to get stuck between my wooden planks. But when Chef Jiro Sakamoto does it, it’s always different. He gives me proper care and attention, pays heed to the details of my grooves and curves…

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Consequential Legacies

Leh Robert van Koesveld

I have come to believe that she is channeling Toscanini with her hands. Equally, I’m firm in the conviction that she is channeling a fabled Persian songstress with her soul.

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Lemon

Fruit Stand-Lauren-Moya-Ford-illustration

An impenetrable curse lay heavy on my heart. Call it an uneasiness, call it ill humors—like a hangover after drinking, you drink every day and there comes a time when it all might as well be a hangover. Well, that time had come.

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The Hungry Ghost

Kyoto Journal hungry ghosts fiction food

She told me we wouldn’t eat any of the dumplings.  That, it was bad luck to eat food left out for hungry ghosts.  It would make them angry.  I remembered reading about hungry ghosts, wasted, mouths too small to eat.  They tried to possess people, sometimes the emotionally weak, so as to be able to taste the food they craved…

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From “Rain and Thunder”

clouds

I once liked walking in the rain, the harder the better;
liked facing the drops and letting them drench my hair,
then follow individual courses under my collar…

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Persimmons

persimmons

Split: a star-like reflection.
Flesh like the fire-belly of a newt,
only since coming each autumn
have I taken to swallow firm
fresh mouthfuls,
the jam-insides
of others sun-dried.

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Thirty-Six Times

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It is the mountain’s presence that most inspires when viewing Hokusai’s thirty-six prints. Rain or shine, snow or wind, clear skies – seen from village, sea, or city – the mountain is a timeline against which all of life is measured.

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The Stone Carver

stone carver

He walked back to the main street, along the row of stone workshops.  Through the open doors of one he saw, through a haze of white dust, a row of squatting carvers working frantically, pounding their chisels into the stone in a clanging chorus.

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Into the Hills

Into the Hills

Up into the Northern Hills,
up the slender, winding road
to the last bus stop; get out, walk
the narrowing valley to the end,
climb steep stone stairs.
Pause there for a cup of tea.

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Distant and Far Apart

Seoul buildings

Watching painters work was something I’ve always been drawn to. How they licked their lips. How their eyes never seemed to blink. How they paced alone in cluttered rooms, stared at things as if defusing bombs, and every breath was a hiccup from boom…

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Left Behind: A Selection of Poems by Xu Lizhi

Xu Lizhi Eleanor Goodman Chinese factory worker Kyoto Journal poetry Zhan You Bing

Xu Lizhi’s work is steeped in the vocabulary and experiences of the factories, a world in which he himself lived. The selection of poems presented here show his sense of desperation and acute observations of his internal psychology and the larger world.

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Before you go, be sure to check out our latest issue:

KJ 98: Ma