The Mini Museum of Masks

Japan is narrow and mountainous and hugely populated.

When asked what I miss most about the States (while I have several answers depending on my mood) “space” invariably gets mentioned. No sprawling parks with giant old trees and hide away benches where you can read undisturbed for hours. No lush lawns with dogs and children romping around. No house that is  so large that if you happen to sneeze all of your neighbors won’t hear.

Everything is built tight and close.

Which makes going for walks interesting. I can go on the same daily stroll in my neighborhood for years and still spot some odd WTH that makes me stop and shake my head. Or laugh. Or take a photo. And then if I get really wild and adventurous and trek off my beaten track, well…

This happened the other day when at first I saw this:

Masks 1

On closer inspection I found  a small sign written in a shaky hand announcing with an equally shaky arrow that there was a museum just behind the house, on the other side of a hedge.

Never one to obey those “How to Survive a Horror Movie” rules, I went right on in.  And met this fellow:

Masks 2


You can’t see him all, but, YES that is Santa Claus right there beside a Cyclops-in-the-mouth-of-a-screaming-wooden-thing.  I continue on.

And then there was a little shack and this:

Masks 3Lots of wooden ojizo, some crane origami, and a Zero fighter hung from the ceiling.

Moving right along I stumble across this guy. I’m assuming he’s daruma, no eyelids and all. Hey, what’s he looking at anyway?

Masks 4


What? Behind me?

I reach the very back of the house, the point of no (easy) escape, still waiting for some old man with a hatchet to leap out at me. But instead I find this.

A soul-stealing, devil mask with red glowing eyes.


Masks 5


That’s when I high tailed it out of there.

All in all, though, I came away with a nice warm feeling, thinking to myself, what a lovely hobby for some nice elderly man to have. He makes masks and statues and shares them with the neighborhood. He lures unsuspecting people into his tiny garden to entertain them. Lovely!

After further thought, I’m assuming that’s what that warm, tingly feeling was. What does haven’t your soul ripped out feel like anyway?


Vegetable Ice Cream?

A while back a friend gave me a heads up about two new flavors of Haagen Dazs ice cream to be released in Japan only. Woo! New ice cream! Yeah, that’s what I thought, too: green tea, red adzuki beans, maybe something mochi related.

Alas, no.icecream one

It took awhile, but I finally spotted the new creations in my local supermarket, happily bought the Spoon Veges, and took them home. One  is a tomato and cherry mix and the other a carrot and orange blend. Yep. I’m not sure what they were thinking either.


So I took one for the team and tried cream two

Note: I’m not a tomato person. Tomato sauces I’m okay with but not anything too tomato-y.  If you know what I mean. I’m likely to run screaming if anyone presents me with a nice hunk of a slice of the red fruit and asks me to take a bite. But I must admit I was pleasantly pleased with the tomato-cherry ice cream. It had this vague sweetish, acidic “red” taste. Not cream three


Now, the carrot-orange one, that was another story. I *do* like carrots and oranges, but this one was all kinds of wrong. Just too carrot-y, not enough orange-y. Not sure if they just picked a fruit and a vegetable that were the same color and put them together or what, but this one didn’t do it for me.

All that said, they’re still be sold which means someone’s buying them. I assume. I think, however, I’ll stick to something chocolate or green tea or anything with mint in it. I’ll have my vegetables with me meal, thank you.

“The Spider Sweeper”

Several years ago I wrote a short story I was incredibly smitten with but  knew in my heart might never find a home.  It’s called “The Spider Sweeper” and it just felt very odd. It’s a horror story. It’s a love story. It’s set in Japan during the late 1800s.

I sent it out and collected a few rejections, then decided to sit on it for awhile. A year passed. Longer.  A couple of months ago I stumbled upon it again and re-read it. Lo and behold, I still loved it. So I thought what-the-hell and decided to send it out again.

Now I’m here today to say I’m tickled pink to announce “The Spider Sweeper” was picked up by a gorgeous magazine I hugely admire, Black Static.

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