East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Honobono and Dragon’s eggs

Honobono (仄々) is a Japanese word that is usually translated as “heartwarming” or “feel good”. It’s the sort of feeling associated with Hayao Miyazaki’s movies – stories full of adventure and excitement, but filled with decent people and built on healthy, affectionate relationships. The good guys win and the bad guys lose, and maybe some of them turn out not to be so bad either.

151366A few nights back, while in the whirlwind of the launch of Hope & Glory I discovered a Japanese roleplaying game called Ryuutama (literally, Dragonsegg), and I gave it a look and I was totally delighted.
Because it’s a good solid game, because it’s light on rules and strong on roleplaying, because it’s refreshingly different.
And yes, it’s honobono too, which is interesting. Continue reading

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A Wisp of Smoke, online

wisp cover smallThe KDP morlocks did their job, and right now A Wisp of Smoke, Rising is live on Amazon.

A Wisp of Smoke, Rising is a horror story set in Japan in 1960.
It is also a spy story, a mystery of sorts.
It is also a homage to the media through which my generation discovered Japan.
And it has a historical twist, in more senses than one. Continue reading

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Visit Kyoto in the past

Kyoto, ancient capital of Japan, can now be explored through the Heiankyo Overlay Map, which allows users to shift from the current plan of the city back to the Heian era (9th century) city, and back.


The map is in Japanese – but it sure is a wonderful tool for history buffs… and writers!

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Pulp History – the Changeling Princess

18969778356_bd1e6c1f5e_oAs usual, history can be much wilder than pulp fiction.
Thinking of the Mysterious East, we often read stories of dragon ladies, of dangerous women and mysterious seductresses.
So, in the name of pulp history, consider, if you will, Yoshiko Kawashima, aka Jewel of the East or Eastern Jade.

For starters, her name was not Yoshiko Kawashima, but Aisin Gioro Xianyu, and she was a princess of Manchu origin – her father a lesser character in the Imperial Court at Beijing.
But when she was eight years old, her family sold her to a Japanese called Kawashima. She was, after all, just the fourteenth daughter.
Kawashima-san was an adventurer and a spy – and he thought that breeding a Chinese princess to become a tool of the Japanese empire might be a neat trick.
The girl’s life with Kawashima became an experiment in the thorough bending of a human mind.
It was probably more successful than Kawashima himself dreamed.
Continue reading


Masterless men

I found this, here, yesterday, doing a research for something completely different.
I’m just sharing, because it is significant, and on topic, I think, and resonates with me.
Comments welcome.

“There are two paths a samurai can walk: that of a clan member, and that of a ronin, a lonely warrior. The former is highly esteemed in Japan, the latter is bitterly detested. Continue reading