Tuesday, February 2, 2010

There For You

In a post last week I introduced several very brief letters on the theme of hometowns, something taken from a collection called Japan’s Best “Short Letters to My Hometown.” I also mentioned that the hometown book is one in a series, and that the same publisher has put out several other collections of short letters. This time the subject is friends, and the project began with the question, ‘What is a friend? Is a friend someone we can talk to with an open heart about anything?’ Like many of the examples in the hometown letters, those focusing on friendship have that same quality of unvarnished candor and simple heartfelt expression. The book is called, Japan’s Best “Short Letters to My Friend,” and like the earlier collection, reveals what is possible in even the briefest of lines. And so, I want to share once again some messages from the heart.

The telephone is not currently

in service.

Please meet and talk in person.

Tomomi Kanamaru (F. 14)

My eyes are dried out from nothing

but email from you these days.

A letter in your haphazard handwriting

sure would go easy on my eyes.

Takeshi Harada (M. 21)

My son sends his friends email,

my daughter sends her friends faxes,

my wife uses the handy phone,

and I still write letters.

Kenichi Machida (M. 57)

Once again, the contest was open to non-Japanese living in Japan, and the last examples are from two of them.

To write to you is to drop in,


You dry your hands on the towel

by the sink

and sit down, smiling, to listen.

David Abel (M. 43)

Do you remember

when we laughed down the moon?

Sitting with it between us,

we ate it like a watermelon.

Seth Nehil (M. 25)

With the exception of the last two, the letters were translated from the Japanese by Patricia J. Wetzel and Shunichi Mitani.

I had hoped to add a hyperlink that would allow those outside of Japan to order this book, or any others in the series, but from the ten or more sites I looked at, none of them offer a viable way for people outside of Japan to purchase the small bilingual editions I found in Tokyo.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America