Friday, July 25, 2014

Poetry Reading at the Book Cellar


Poetry Reading with 
(from left) Alessandra Simmons, 
Naoko Fujimoto, Timothy Yu 
Wendy Vardaman, and Kristy Odelius, 
at the Book Cellar in Chicago on 7/24/2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

New Poem - On The Blue Line

ON THE BLUE LINE
Inspired by Alessandra Simmons 
“St. Pachomiun of the Unemployed” fom St. Peter's B-List.


In the blue line from O’Hare Airport, 
St. Pachomius wiped windows and scraped chewing gum.
He sprayed seats; 
the hibiscus ocean scent filled the dark and musty inside.  

Nobody kneeled down toward the saint, 
but they said, “Now, the saint is taking over our jobs.”

They gazed at him—murderous in a way—eyes upon eyes. 
Their fists beat the rims of their seats.

“Where is my job,” the banging gets louder.
“How can I feed my family,” they kicked the backs of the seats.

They marched around the Saint and kept screaming,  
“Where is my miracle, where is my miracle?”

The hibiscus scent was gone, but human sweat remained.
  
Seconds later, they already forget St.Pachomius was here.
They quickly left from the train to where they belong. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Have a Happy Summer!


























Are you having a good summer? I am writing! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Prairie Schooner

Prairie Schooner accepted my poetry!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Oil Painting Project - Drying


I cannot wait for the second project. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Oil Painting Project


My First Oil Painting Project
This Project was listed as one of my 2014 New-Years Resolutions 

Monday, May 19, 2014

#17 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

The Seventeenth Poem:

ちはやぶる
神代も聞かず
竜田川
からくれなゐに
水くくるとは
--在原業平朝臣

Even heaven
doesn’t have this beauty, 
the River Tatsuta
in ancient-Chinese-red
leaves on the floating water.
--Ariwarano Narihira Ason
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto

A poem written in response from me to Ariwarano Narihira Ashon

The Japanese maple leaves 
float down the river,
to the ocean under the moon,
decaying into a piece—
a part of the big blue waves.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

#16 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

The sixteenth poem:

立ち別れ
いなばの山の
峰に生ふる
松とし聞かば
今かへり来む
--中納言行平

I must leave now
to Mt. Inaba,
its pine trees wait for me but 
if I hear from you,
I will come back to you.
--Chunagon Yukihira
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto 

A poem written in response from me to Chunagon Yukihira

Over the mountains,
your friends wait for you
with whipped cream 
in the midnight coffee, 
just like your college days.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

#15 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

The Fifteenth Poem:

君がため
春の野に出でて
若菜つむ
我が衣でに
雪は降りつつ
--光孝天皇

For you,
I go to the spring field
to pick young green
even on my sleeves 
snow is falling.
--Emperor Kouko
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto

A poem written in response from me to Emperor Kouko

My grandmother 
picks seven herbs  
and cook them with rice;
it tastes like salty and
spring bitterness.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Belgium's and Amsterdam's Best Restaurants and Hotels


A Random Entrance Door in Belgium. 
The country is so beautifully artistic. 


*All links will be lead to my articles in the blog*

Hotels: 
People at the front desk were super nice. I had comfortable and relaxed nights in a foreign, unfamiliar country. 

Hilton Brussels City (Five Stars)
Place Rogier 20, Brussels,  BRU, Belgium 1210

NH Galaxy (Five Stars)
Distelkade 21, Amsterdam, 1031 XP Netherlands

Hotel Egmond (Five Stars)
Minnewater 15, 8000 Brugge, BE0453 730 168 


Restaurants: 
The following restaurants were the best with taste and service. My hubby and I visited many restaurants during the trip. I only wrote articles about the best ones.

Good local beer at Grand Place in Brussels: La Brouette
Belgian waffle at Grand Place in Brussels: Maison Dandoy Tea Room
Shrimp croquettes and steak in Brussels: Bonsoir Clara Brussels
Breakfast around antique market in Brussels: Le Point de Chute
Fish and Chips: Six Nations
Belgium traditional meals in Brugge: Bistro Maurice
Dutch Pancake in Amsterdam: De Sneeker Pan 
Pizza in Amsterdam: La Place 
Cozy local bakery in the Netherlands: Waal Kootwijkerbroek

Sightseeing Spots:
My most favorite museum in Belgium: Tin Tin Museum
Antique market in Belgium: Place du Jeu de Balle
My Japanese article about Anne Frank's House in Amsterdam
Meeting Windmill Masters and Walking: Kinderdijk
Red Light District : Rabbit from Amsterdam
The Cathedral of Our Lady, a Roman Catholic cathedral in Antwerp, Belgium






Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hungry Beauty - Six Nations in Brussels, Belgium

Six Nations in Brussels, Belgium

My hubby said, "I want to eat good fish and chips."

We walked about one hour and finally found a British pub called, Churchill's. 

"Can I order fish and chips?"

The owner at Churchill's said with an authentic British accent, "We do not serve fish and chips." (I love international English, maybe because I have a heavy Japanese accent.) The owner's assistant suggested we visit Six Nations around the corner of Grand Place.

Often restaurants in the middle of very famous sightseeing spots do not taste good or have bad service because their location ensures customers will keep coming anyway; however, Six Nations was an exception.

They had the best fish and chips ever! And I loved my Caesar salad wraps. 

So, we wanted to eat their fish and chips again before leaving Belgium. But the restaurant was packed because people were gathering to watch a live succor game in England. Everyone held a bottle of beer and cheered so hard. We could literally not fit through the doorway and the people were spilling out into the street to watch the outside screen. Therefore we could not get seats for the night.

48-50 Rue Gretry, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
+32 2 203 07 33


Thursday, May 8, 2014

#14 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The Fourteenth Poem:  

陸奥の
しのぶもぢずり
誰ゆゑに
みだれそめにし
われならなくに
--河原左大臣

In the end of the northernmost street,
like tangled ivy patterns on a kimono,
you make my heart 
twist and lose;
I am forgetting myself.

返歌
A poem written in response from me to Kwarano Sadaijin

I hate when my heart is twisted
and needs tweezers and pliers 
to unravel it,
un-reciprocal love is only
good for a young poet. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hungry Beauty - La Brouette in Belgium


La Brouette in Belgium 

La Brouette is the perfect location to have Belgian beer. The restaurant and pub is located in Grand Place. There are many local beers available and the waiters are very witty and knowledgeable about the breweries. 

My hubby and I ordered a simple meal (baguette sandwich and french fries) along with a variety of beers. It was fun to share glasses of beer with random people at the bar. We shared beer with two men from London and Chicago.    

"Omer" gave me a rash (the ingredients might be too strong and heavy for me). However, I really liked a peach flavored beer called "Pecheresse." The British man bought "Chimay" for us. All the beer tasted fantastic.

With new friends, good beer, and nice service at the beautiful Grand Place, several great evenings in Belgium. 

Grand Place 2, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
+32 2 511 54 94





Tuesday, May 6, 2014

#13 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The Thirteenth Poem:

筑波嶺の
峰より落つる
みなの川
恋ぞつもりて
淵となりぬる
--陽成院

From Mt. Tsukubane,
its highest peak, 
a small stream called Minano 
becomes wider and deeper 
like my “koi” feeling toward you.
--You Zei In 
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto

返歌
A poem written in response from me to You Zei In.

“Koi” is one step before being in love
like thinking of you
from the edge of the pacific ocean;
I wish I could say it aloud—
only seawater keeps flooding between us.   

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hungry Beauty - Maison Dandoy Tea Room in Brussels


Maison Dandoy - Tea Room in Brussels 

At the Maison Dandoy Tea Room, I ordered a Belgian waffle with cherry & chocolate, and my hubby ordered a spinach and tomato quiche. Both dishes were very delicious.

We sat down at outside tables (the second floor was very crowded and kind of messy on the empty tables). I also realized that outside has the particular perfume of Brussels. (The famous piss boy statue is down the street along with many human imitators at night.)

There are two waffle styles -- the familiar square Belgian waffle and the liège waffle -- my first choice was Belgian style; however, the liège waffle is much cooler.

Liège waffle has a distinguished weight because it is like pancake batter baked with brown sugar and honey. The waffle is surprisingly heavy. Since it is baked with a lot of sugary syrup, it is also super sticky.

I should have asked for a paper plate rather than paper towels. The paper towels stick onto the waffle and participating fingers. I accidentally ate the paper and it stuck between teeth. Eventually my handbag and jacket became sticky -- I was a walking Liège waffle with a Japanese twist.  

Maison Dandoy - TeaRoom
Karel Bulsstraat 14
1000 Brussel
Belgium


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Been There! Anne Frank's House in Amsterdam


Anne Frank's House in Amsterdam

アムステルダムへ旅をする機会があれば、アンネフランクの家へ訪問してみたいと思っていた。朝一番に並んでも大変混雑すると聞いていたので、オンラインでチケットを予約することにした。

アンネフランクのウエブサイトからチケットを購入するとき、その日のウエブサイトの混雑状況や、クレジットカードの相性によってとてもつながりにくい。なかなか購入できなくて、直接カスタマーサービスにメールを書いた。

ヨーロッパ以外からのクレジットカード予約はつながりにくいから、時間を置いてから試してみて。それでも駄目ならもう一度メールしてください。とすぐにお返事をいただいた。それから数回メール往復をすることになって、祖父の話をすることになった。

祖父は第二次世界大戦中、広島の近くで海軍として勤めていた。原爆が落ちたときは広島から少し離れたところにいたが、”広島が大変なことになった”と聞いて、広島へ向かったらしい。火傷をした人々、顔が真っ黒になって女性だか男性だかわからない身なりをしている人、妊婦さんを助けて、祖父もだんだん真っ黒になってきた。その時、ぜんぜん知らないおばあさんが、一枚のタオルをくれた。そのタオルがとても白くみえて、大変ありがたかった、と祖父は言っていた。

世界中からいろいろな思いを持ってアンネの家へ訪問してくれます。みんなの共通する願いは平和ですとメールには書いてあった。1週間後、3枚違うクレジットカードを試して、ようやくオンライン予約ができた。

アンネフランクの家は、博物館と隣同士になっていて、正面からみると現代的に見える。しかし、本棚の裏、急な細い階段をあがって隠れ家へ入ると、アンネがポストカードなどを貼った壁紙はそのまま、古いキッチン、きしむ床、お手洗い(お便器にオランダらしい青い模様が入っていてとてもきれい)はそのままにされている。

アンネは日記やショートストーリーを、一緒に隠れている家族達に毎晩発表するのが日課だった。そのとき第二次世界大戦を生き延びたら、日記やストーリーが出版されるかもというアイデアをもらって、希望を持って書き続けていた。

もっとも印象的だったのは、アンネの父親のビデオドキュメンタリーだった。一人だけ生き残った父親は毎日、一生懸命働いて、家族のことを思い続けていると言っていた。戦後、アンネフランクが象徴的な存在となって、日記やドキュメンタリーが出版され、隠れ家での生活は映画やミュージカルにもなった。世界中から父親は出版パーティーなどに招待されたが、いつも出席を断ったらしい。映画やミュージカル、フィクションの本は、芸術として素晴らしいし、アンネの経験を広めてくれることは嬉しいが、舞台であっても同じ経験を二度としたくないからだ。

アンネの父親の気持ちを知ったとき、私の自分勝手な詩の創作に悲しくなった。私は祖父の第二次世界大戦の経験や、新聞などで読んだ東北大震災の記事をもとに詩を書いている。詩集は、発信すると意味を込めて"Radio Tower"として編集中である。平和な日常や大地震を忘れないためにも詩を書き続けるのが目標だった。他界した祖父は惜しみなく応援してくれたが、大震災を生き残った人が私の詩を読んだら、繰り返しやるせない気持ちになるかもしれないと思うと、とても心が痛い。

アンネの家では、屋根裏部屋の窓から見える新緑の絵葉書を買った。アンネはその窓から想像力を働かせて、希望を持って生活をしていたのかと思うと複雑な気持ちになるが、生き続ける勇気もわいてくる。絵葉書は額にいれてリビングルームに飾っている。









Friday, May 2, 2014

#12 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English.

The Twelfth Poem:


天つ風

雲の通い路
吹きとぢよ
 をとめの姿
しばしとどめむ
--僧正遍昭

Blowing blue winds—

close a path between clouds
to heaven;
let five celestial maidens
dance one more time.
--Soujyo Hensyo
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto

返歌

A poem written in response from me to Soujyo Hensyo

When you read a love poem;

I want Chopin’s waltz
to dance;
I take off my flat shoes
and step up to the November cloud.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

#11 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The Eleventh Poem:

わたの原
八十島かけて
漕ぎ出ぬと
人には告げよ
海人のつり舟
--参議 篁

In the endless sea,
over many nameless islands,
I’m heading to “Oki,”
help me to spread these words,
dear fisherman’s boat.
--Sangi Takamura
--Translated by Naoko Fujimoto

Return Poem (返歌) to Sangi Takamura from me:

Your dear, 
dear fisherman’s boat doesn’t talk,
it’ll be a lonely time in “Oki,”
where it’s cold with winter ocean winds,
why don’t you rent some Chinese birds?

*Note: Sangi Takamura was one of the Emperor Saga’s best friends about 1200 years ago.
The Emperor wanted him to visit China as an exchange governor; however, Sangi Takamura refused to go there after he wrote satire poetry about the exchange programs. Therefore, the Emperor sent him to out of nowhere, “Oki” island as punishment.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hungry Beauty: Dutch Pancake at De Sneeker Pan in Amsterdam



 De Sneeker Pan in Amsterdam

I had a Dutch pancake for the first time at De Sneeker Pan in Amsterdam and I immediately became a fun of the Dutch style. There were also very pretty and kind waitresses working at the café. The kitchen counter was nicely organized with fresh baked chocolate cake—I wished that my stomach was slightly larger than now—cookies and pasty. Very cute plates and cups were decorated along with fruits in a bowl. The café welcomed us in a cozy morning moment.


I ordered an apple pancake, of course, Dutch style. When they brought my breakfast, I was really surprised.

I said, “It is so huge!”

The waitress said, “This is Dutch style, enjoy!”

The pancake neatly folded over the plate. It was like a thicker style of crepe with many thin slices of apples and raisins. Apple sweet and sour flavors were matched with additional maple syrup and powdered sugar—later I learned that some local people added brown sugar on the top of the pancake. I enjoyed having the pancake along with green salad, French bread, and an omelet breakfast combo. I thought that I might have ordered too much, but my hubby and I ate everything. It was delicious.


When I came back to my apartment, I tried to make Dutch pancakes. So far I tried four times to get it right, but at least they’re getting better. The Dutch pancake needed patience because it was huge, so it is difficult to flip when cooking. In addition, when I searched for a recipe for Dutch pancake, there were many versions and cooking styles available.

I used an iron frying pan on the stove when I made it. I stir fried slices of apples with unsalted butter first, and then I poured flour mix. I waited until the bottom became brown and flipped it with two spatulas. But there was another cooking style; put the iron pan into the oven after cooking the apples and pouring the flour mix. After twenty-some minutes, the pancake will become golden crisp on the top. I have not tried the new style yet. It will be a fun experiment for another weekend breakfast at home. 




De Sneeker Pan

Kerkstraat 48,
1017GM Binnenstad, Amsterdam
Phone: +31 20 6223660






Tuesday, April 29, 2014

#10 Poem - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首)

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (小倉百人一首) is a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred waka-poems by one hundred poets in the thirteenth century. My challenge is to translate the poems and write a return poem (返歌) in English. 

The Tenth Poem:

これやこの
行くも帰るも
別れては
知るも知らぬも
逢坂の関
--蝉丸

This is the way
to go east or back to Kyoto;
farewell for a while,
we’ll meet again
here at “Ausaka no Seki.”

Detroit is my airport
to fly in from Nagoya, Japan;
there is a tea cup shop
where a bald guy used to work.
After nine years, he is gone.