Thursday, May 29, 2014

What I'm Writing @LucyBurdette

Castle in Matsue

LUCY BURDETTE: I'm at the early, early stage of a new book. So early, that every word feels tentative. But mostly, I've been on vacation, so I haven't been writing anything. I had good intentions for making progress on that book, but the trip was too busy and all-consuming. We were so fortunate to take a tour of Japan, a place I've wanted to visit forever.

Torii for Itsukushima Shinto shrine

Each day, as I reviewed my photos, I wondered how I could ever summarize the things I'd seen and experienced to show how amazing the country is. Other folks on the trip were keeping detailed journals, which made me feel guilty, though not guilty enough to do anything about it. Then I began to scribble down a few notes, and the notes evolved into--Haiku, of course! (Thanks to the tutelage last year of our pal SJ Rozan.)

Rohuon-ji Temple

So here you have it--a quick trip through Japan in photos and Haiku...

Many of the places we visited were off the beaten track. As our ship docked or sailed away, locals in costumes with bands and banners would come to celebrate our arrival or departure with dancing and gifts and singing. "That is your waving committee," our Japanese tour guide, Chieko-san would explain while laughing loudly. 



Dragons swerve and clack
Ladies in pink kimonos
Waving committee

Everywhere we went there were gorgeous shrines, mostly Buddhist and Shinto. There doesn't seem to be much conflict between the religions--in fact people seem to turn to more than one, as needed. But the hopefulness and yearnings for guidance are heartfelt...



Shrines welcome guests who
Stack stones, tie papers, rub snouts
Wishes left behind

Sea Urchins in the market


It turns out that I am not such a fan of Japanese food. I tried to be a good and adventurous foodie--I really did! But after a while, I had to groan when another bento box appeared at our lunch table.


Spiny sea creatures
Armor bristles: Stay away!
Soon to be sushi

MORE LUNCH (by John Brady)

Bento box is served
tastes colors textures so odd
Sad so much untouched

Atomic Bomb Dome

One of the most moving stops on the trip was a visit to Hiroshima. It was absolutely pouring, which seemed appropriate for the day. The city has been completely rebuilt, as if the tragedy hadn't happened. But the memorial and the museum aroused the kind of sad and horrified feelings I had when at the Holocaust museum or the 9/11 site.


Sheets of silver rain
Devastation's grim mem'ry
Smart enough to learn?


If you'd like to read about my lesson on making sushi or see lots of cool food pictures from the Kyoto market, visit my post at Mystery lovers kitchen. And thanks for indulging my modern day slide show! Meanwhile, I'm back to chapter one--no excuses...


  1. Oh, what an exciting trip . . . and such beautiful pictures. It certainly sounds as if you had a wonderful time . . . .
    Now I'm off to check out the "cool food pictures" . . . .

  2. I'm envious-- I've always wanted to visit Japan (for longer than my 45 minutes running through the Narita airport). And I love Japanese food-- but not sure I would eat fish there, now that the Fukushima plant has made all the Pacific fish radioactive.

    Strange country of contrasts-- serene and stylized in its art and poetry and flower design, and yet so ferocious (the invasion of the Philippines, the rape of Nanking, the Bataan Death March, the perfidy of Pearl Harbor). It's the only country that ever suffered a nuclear attack, and is anti atomic weapons as a result, yet is the source of a worse peacetime atomic catastrophe than Chernoble.

  3. Thanks for your pictures and haikus - might be as close as I ever get to Japan. have a safe trip and remember that storing memories is part of writing, so you have been working hard.

    ~ Jim

  4. Yes, it was an amazing trip Joan--even more so as I think back over it...

    Ellen, you sound as if you've studied Japan quite thoroughly! I did not know a lot before I went, but learned so much.

    Jim--thanks for the sweet encouragement:)

  5. Lucy, there is a banker's box full of notes, and another full of books, for the novel that keeps growing much larger than I ever intended it to be....

  6. Thank you for sharing your photos — so beautiful.

    Hubby and I went to Japan (Tokyo) in 2004 and fell in love with all things Japanese...

  7. Ellen, get busy--we'd like to read that book!

    Thanks Susan--would like to have spent more time in Tokyo. We watched LOST IN TRANSLATION this week with Bill Murray and Scarlet Johanssen. (sp?) Lots of fun to recognize things we'd noticed...

  8. Love the photos. Asia and Japan in particular seem like such a beautiful place. So much love of flowers and gardening, vistas and walks. Maybe someday I'll get a chance. Thanks for sharing.

  9. What a lovely piece this is about a beautiful place - Thank You! I'm afraid I would feel the same way about the food as I'm really not very adventuresome with what I'll eat. Love the haikus!

  10. Thanks Jack--and Kaye!

    The gardens were lovely. Japanese people are so serious about them that the most famous do not allow visitors to step foot in them. You look from behind a glass wall in a museum, or a walkway outside!

  11. Thanks for the glimpses of your trip, Roberta. A dear friend--also named Roberta, coincidentally--has been lobbying for me to join her on a quilting tour of Japan next year, and your post has spurred me to send an email to the tour organizer.

    Japan has always intrigued me, ever since I read the James Clavell books, starting with Shogun. A small but mighty country, is it not?

    I'm not very good at journaling on trips, either, but don't think haikus are in my future. I console myself with the fact that I am always too busy living the trip to step to the side and write about it. :-)

  12. Oh my gosh Karen, that sounds like a wonderful way to see the country! Would you be visiting other quilters and artisans? I vote for you to go!

  13. Roberta, thanks for sharing the photos and haiku! I've been fascinated with Japan ever since I was a child and read about an American family living in Japan because the father's job had taken them there. In high school I did a report on how Japan rebuilt after World War II. I was impressed with how much had been accomplished in barely 20 years.

    Karen, if you go, you MUST share the details with us!

  14. Yes, we would visit artisans, as well as the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival, which runs for 10 days and draws as many as 30,000 people each day. Five cities in 13 days, too.

    It's pricey, though, so I'm a little scared. But I'd be happy to share details, if I go. It's really a dream trip for a sewing goddess like me, you know. :-)

  15. Beautiful pictures, Lucy. I'll never make it to Japan (most likely), so thanks for sharing.

    And good job on the haikus - I have always been terrible with poetry, especially haiku, so I am in awe!

  16. Japan seems like a land where enchantment still lingers--you can see it in the landscapes, the temples, even the people--in spite of Japan's history. Your photos suggest the serenity, the exotic, the possibilities of mystery--and I don't mean 'our' kind of mysteries here.

    I agree with Jim--your mind and should I say soul are being recharged by your experiences in Japan--and all of that will almost certainly affect your writing.

  17. Love the pictures. Sounds like a fun, well deserved trip.

  18. What gorgeous photographs of Japan, Roberta! You make it all sound so wonderful, too. The haikus were a nice touch. I'm sure your brain cells were firing up even on vacation and something from this trip will show up in your writing. I hope you purchased some lovely items there to take a piece of Japan back to Key West.

  19. Thanks everyone for the kind words. I don't know that the trip was "deserved" but for sure gratefully received!

    I was thinking last night about whether a fictional Japanese restaurant might show up in Key West--though I suspect Hayley is a much more dedicated and adventurous foodie than I am:).

  20. I love your haikus, Roberta! And the images. I suspect I'd have a little trouble with the cuisine too. I like regular old sushi just fine, but I'd bypass the poisonous fish and urchin still in the spines and the rest of it.

  21. <3

    California rolls.
    Without the crunchy fish eggs.
    Not really sushi.

  22. You did a wonderful job of capturing so much of the glory that is Japan. I have been once, and it was truly a transforming journey -- so much is very different, and yet people are -- yeah, right -- people.

    So happy you had this opportunity.

    Uniqueness displayed
    Subway jammed with different
    Hair, body, skin, smile.

  23. Love your Haikus Reine and Denise--thank you--perfect!!

    After SJ's tutelage, we're a poetry machine on JRW!

  24. Haikus work magic
    Photographs show smiles, silks, rain
    Wonderful posting

  25. thank you so much carole for the lovely return verse!!!