Tokyo Kills Me: week of May 12, 2017

Snapshots from commuter life in The Big Mikan.

See this week’s pics at


Sakura Cherry Blossoms 2016

A selection of sakura “cherry blossom” haiku from the Japanese poet Issa…

Sakura Cherry Blossoms
Sakura Cherry Blossoms

sasuga hana chiru ni miren wa nakari keri

when cherry blossoms
no regrets


sensei nakunarite wa tada no sakura kana

the master being dead
just ordinary…
cherry blossoms

chiru sakura kokoro no oni mo dete asobe

cherry blossoms fall–
come out and play
devil in me!

masse matsudai demo sakura sakura kana

a corrupt world
in its latter days…
but cherry blossoms!

sawagashiki yo wo oshi haratte oso-zakura

the cure for
this raucous world…
late cherry blossoms

mata hito wo tachi-fusagaru ya hatsu sakura

again someone stands
blocking my view!
first cherry blossoms

kome-bukuro munashiku naredo sakura kana

though my rice sack
is empty…
cherry blossoms!

ima kara wa sakura hitori yo mado no mae

from now on
cherry blossom solitude!
my window

ubasuteshi kata yama-zakura saki ni keri

on Mount Ubasute
where the old were left to die…
cherry blossoms

ôkata wa doro ni hittsuku sakura kana

most end up
stuck in mud…
cherry blossoms

hana no ame kotoshi mo tsumi wo tsukuri keri

rain of cherry blossoms–
this year, too
I’ve sinned

shinibeta to mata mo miraren sakura-bana

that they’re no good at dying
again can be seen…
cherry blossoms

chiru sakura kyô mo mucha-kucha kurashi keri

cherry blossoms scatter–
another day
of life’s chaos

shinijitaku itase itase to sakura kana

“Get ready, get ready
for death!”
cherry blossoms

toshiyori no me ni sae sakura sakura to

even to these old eyes–
cherry blossoms!
cherry blossoms!

yorutoshi ya sakura no saku mo ko urusaki

growing old–
even the cherry blossoms
a bit annoying

yama-zakura hana kichigai no jijii kana

he’s a mountain
cherry blossom-crazed
old man

miren naku chiru mo sakura wa sakura kana

without regret
they fall and scatter…
cherry blossoms

hana saku ya ima ni jû nen mae naraba

cherry blossoms!
if I were twenty years

hana saku ya kyô no bijin no hohokaburi

cherry blossoms–
the pretty women of Kyoto
cheeks wrapped in scarves

hana miru mo zeni wo toraruru miyako kana

even viewing the cherry blossoms
costs money…

tengushu no rusu [no] uchi saku yama-zakura

mountain goblins
are out in droves…
cherry blossoms!

translations from David G. Lanoue, “the HaikuGuy”, RosaMary Professor of English, Xavier University of Louisiana; President Haiku Society of America


Kafunsho: Allergy Season in Tokyo – and the rest of Japan

I may well have a lot to say on this subject – later. For now, I just wanna let you know I found an interesting website,, a weather site which also has a page to map and grade pollen levels across Japan, and report on allergy conditions generally. I’m still deciphering what some of the pictographs mean, but the site looks quite useful.

And, FYI, Tokyo is still apparently in the red, still experiencing worst-case scenario conditions for another day…

Tokyo Snow Fallout

The morning after…

Ebisu at Dawn
Ebisu at Dawn

Well, Tokyo’s first snow storm of the season has passed, and already the melt has set in. Other parts of the country, such as Hokkaido and the Tohoku region, have more snow in the immediate forecast; here in The Big Sushi, however, temperatures should be back in the double digits by tomorrow – that’s Wednesday, Tokyo time.

Back to yesterday’s blizzard… I have to say, it may not be the worst snow storm I’ve seen in my 13+ years in Tokyo (the heavy snowfall on February 9, 2014 set a 45-year record), but it was the worst commuting mess I’ve ever experienced. I left home as usual around 6am, which normally gets me to work by 7:15 or so. Yesterday, however, what with the treacherous walking conditions and the train delays, I finally arrived at 8:35 – almost 1 1/2 hours late. Even so, I was one of the first to make it in, and as others arrived late into the morning the horror stories only got worse: longer delay times, dangerously over-crowded trains and platforms with no safety barriers between passengers and the tracks below. R. tells me she had to wait 50 minutes outside (by then it was raining) just to get into the station. From there, the express train ride which normally takes 20 minutes took 1 1/2 hours. As the over-crowded train waited at local stations with its doors closed, passengers started to choke in the unventilated cars, causing further delays as train crews had to make extra stops to remove sick passengers – which resulted in further delays and even more sick passengers.

According to the talk at work this morning, Tokyo’s train operators decided to remove trains from service in the event of such a snow crisis as this one as a result of a commuter train crash back in February of 2014. problem is, apparently, they didn’t bother to tell anyone… So it goes.


Cool Story by Me! “The Day the Earth Moved” in new travel anthology


“The Day the Earth Moved,” my personal essay about the Great East Japan Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear Crisis from a Tokyo expat’s perspective, will be included in Adventures of a Lifetime: Travel Tales from Around the World, an anthology from World Traveler Press. Publication date is December 15, 2014.