KOYASAN

High in the Kii Mountains lies the vast Buddhist monastery complex of Koyasan (Mt. Koya). Founded 1,200 years ago by the monk Kobo...

THE LORD OF MOUNT MIWA

by Joseph Simurdiak (The following story is an adaption of an ancient Japanese legend recorded in the 8th Century text Kojiki: The Record...

SUMMER: THE SEASON OF GHOSTS

I. The Gruesome Swelter Summer is easily Japan’s most brutal season—at least in the Kanto region where I live. Folks who endure winter up...

ICHINOMIYA: A REFLECTION

The past five years… no chapter of my life has ever gone by so fast. My time as an English instructor on The JET Programme has concluded,...

MASSACRE AT HARA-JO (SPRING JOURNEY V)

On Good Friday I crossed the sea to Nagasaki Prefecture, then hiked north up the coast. At night I reached the seaside ruins of Hara...

TOMIOKA CASTLE (SPRING JOURNEY IV)

Tomioka Castle lies on the northern end of the Amakusa Islands. I had planned to continue the trek on foot, hoping to walk the entire...

THE AMAKUSA ISLANDS (SPRING JOURNEY II)

The Amakusa Islands don’t get many foreign visitors. Despite their beauty, they are a very quiet and remote region of Japan. Yet the...

THE MARTYRS OF NAGASAKI (SPRING JOURNEY I)

(The following post - the first in a series of five - comes from my travel journal detailing a journey I took through southwestern Japan...

A CONVERSATION WITH PRICE COUNTY REVIEW

(Following the awards at Killer Nashville, the Price County Review ran an article on my award, my writing background, and my upcoming...

KILLER NASHVILLE, PART 2: THE CLAYMORE AWARD

“Just keep your expectations realistic,” my father told me as we prepared our trip to Nashville. “Who knows, you might actually win this...

KILLER NASHVILLE, PART 1: FINALIST

For a first-time author, the literary world can seem a frightening, hyper-competitive place. It’s tough enough writing, revising, and...

NARA

Amid soaring temple pagodas, countless bursts of cherry blossoms, and herds of deer that rove among yards, parks, and even the streets, a...

THE NINJA HEARTLANDS: VISITING KOGA AND IGA

Iga and Koga. The names have a shadowy, almost mystical connotation as the twin heartlands of the ninja. Supposedly, as the stories go,...

NOJUKU

There comes a point during many of my travels—usually when I’m huddled under an umbrella beneath a tree branch in a sheeting rain, or...

TOKYO COWBOYS

As someone from a small, rural Midwestern town, I’ve found Tokyo to be a veritable jungle of new adventures, experiences, and...

IT SHOULD NOT BE EASY

On the wall of my room I have a printed page with a quote from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a quote that jumped out at me the very first...

SYLVAN SHADOWS

One of Japan’s peculiar delights is the seeming prevalence of quiet, serene, out-of-the-way temples and shrines, hidden in the nooks and...

PERFECTIONISM: SOME BRIEF THOUGHTS

Somewhere in the midst of writing my novel, I reached a point where I could barely proceed. I’d hit writer’s block, though perhaps not in...

A MONTH WITHOUT GODS

Though I was born in summer, I’ve always been an autumn child at heart. The poetry of fall lies in its distinct melancholy—that time when...

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