Entry #26 – Being Asian American and Queer

Hi all, Kohaku here. Is everyone okay? How was your week?

Today, I would like to talk about something very important to me, something I have been thinking about a lot recently: the intersectionality of being Asian American and queer. This topic is particularly on my mind because of some of the articles I have read recently. Here are a few of them:

“What It’s Like Coming Out as Queer in a Traditional Chinese Family,” The Stranger
“Question: Why is coming out to your Asian parents hard in Hong Kong?”, The Honeycombers
“‘It gets better,’ but for Asian Americans, coming out can also get complicated,” Voices
“How Cultural Norms Make It Hard To Come Out As Gay To Asian Parents,” Newsy

There were a lot of common threads between these articles, and I found a lot of things that I heavily related to. So today I would like to use my weekly journal entry to speak about this topic at length as it relates to my own life.

My name is Kohaku Toran. I am Asian American, the third and youngest child of two Taiwanese immigrants. I am a writer, a musician, and a student who was at one time suicidal and is still sometimes affected by depression. And I identify as queer and nonbinary. All of these parts of my identity have combined to shape my life in unique ways – ways that are still developing, ways that I’m still trying hard to understand. But I know that writing things down, telling a story, is an imperfect but integral part of the process of understanding. That is the meaning of this journal.

Race and Sexuality

My Childhood, My Parents

I think I had it better than a lot of people. Growing up, the atmosphere in my household was for the most part tolerant and accepting. All three of us children went to a high school with a strong social justice-minded humanities program, a place where systems of oppression like the patriarchy and homophobia were openly discussed and unpacked by teachers and students alike. With this kind of educational background, we were supported by older mentors who preached coexistence, surrounded by close friends who loved us unconditionally, and inspired by fellow classmates who lived out and proud and willing to be true to themselves. It wasn’t perfect – far from it – but it could have been much, much worse. Meanwhile, at home, my parents watched TV shows with gay characters in them, and my middle sister M continuously challenged traditional notions of femininity and masculinity. From a young age, she fiercely rejected feminine-associated traits and behaviors that she did not like, refusing to wear skirts and dresses, for example. When she was a senior in high school she came out to us as bi and then pansexual, explaining to my parents what these words meant. She wore a suit and tie to prom, accompanied by a close male friend. Then she went to college, and came back with a beautiful boyish haircut, tattoos, and a girlfriend.

My parents’ general attitude toward all things LGBTQ+ tended toward passive acceptance, at least in terms of the existence and humanity of gay people. They never really talked about it. I don’t remember them ever saying anything to my face about the gays, whether good or bad. But, like I said, they made their household a tolerant and accepting place. As I grew up, I saw gay characters on TV, I saw my sister come out as pan, and I didn’t think anything about any of it. Because of their parenting, I just unconsciously understood and accepted the existence and humanity of sexual minorities. It was only in high school when I realized that the rest of the world didn’t necessarily feel that way.

I’m not really “out” to my parents as queer. I’m not out to a lot of people, really, but for the most part it’s not because of fear. From the way my parents raised me, as well as my own individual personality, I just don’t feel the need. I’m not hiding anything. If they asked me straight up if I were gay, I’d tell them. If I get a girlfriend, I’d tell them. But I don’t feel that it’s necessary to sit my mother and father down and say, “hey, I like girls.” If I were to do that, their reaction would probably be the same as it was to my sister M: “okay.” My father would nod and keep playing on his iPad. If I said specifically “queer,” my mom might ask, “what’s that mean?” And then after I’d explained this new English word, she’d probably go on about how she doesn’t like labels. Or she’d just say “okay.”

How can I be so sure? Besides their parenting style and my sister M paving the way for me, I remember one particular event in the summer after twelfth grade that truly affirmed my mother’s understanding and love. I was in a doctor’s office, privately talking with my mom’s acupuncturist S about some health problems. At some point in the discussion, S said, “If you have or get a boyfriend, we should talk about that.” Intending only to say that I wasn’t currently interested in a relationship, I replied, “I don’t want a boyfriend.” Immediately S asked, “So you want a girlfriend? You like girls?” I felt suddenly cornered, stammering a noncoherent answer. S smiled down at me and said, “That’s okay too.” I walked out of her office slightly mortified. Still in shock, as I walked with my mother back to the car, I told her, “Ma, [S] thinks I’m gay.” My mother asked, “Are you?” I struggled to find a response for a minute – I didn’t want to have to go into my queerness yet, I didn’t want to explain to her a lot of new words, I didn’t want to put the nail in the coffin when I was still questioning my identity myself. In the end I settled on saying, “I take people one at a time.” And my mother nodded and said, “Me too.”

I’m lucky to have such accepting parents. But I still have fear and tension of being out or bringing a girlfriend around my extended family on multiple axes. On one hand, my father’s side of the family, at least the part that emigrated to America, is largely Christian, and I don’t know how conservative they are, I don’t know how they would react. This is the one part of my family about which the words “I’m not hiding anything” become an absolute lie. But looking along a different axis, I am also afraid of the older generation of my extended family on both sides, those who live or have lived in Taiwan, those who are much more culturally traditional. Taiwan is one of the most LGBTQ+ accepting nations in Asia. Same-sex marriage was just legalized last year – the first Asian country to do so. But legal marriage doesn’t mean social or cultural acceptance. And this is where the intersectionality of being Asian and queer really starts to come in.

Social and Cultural Pressures

Take a glance at any of the articles I linked earlier, and you’ll find basically everything that I’m going to say here. Many Asian cultures in general are community and family-based rather than individualistic; they place more focus on ancestors, family respect and duty, and collective family reputation. There’s not a lot of education about LGBTQ+ people, and not a lot of social acceptance, either. So when I think about “coming out” or being truly myself around the older generations of my family, I’m faced with questions like these:

Are you respecting your ancestors? Are you representing your family well? Are you going to trash our family’s reputation? Are you going to carry on the bloodline? Are they going to disown me or otherwise cut me out to save face? Will I be allowed at the family banquet next winter? If I get a girlfriend, will they let her attend?

And so on and so forth. Some of these questions are more intersectionally nuanced; carrying on the bloodline or family name, for instance, is more relevant to my gay male cousin than to me, and he really struggles with this burden. But questions like these plague us all – my cousin, my sister, me, and many other Asian queer folks out there. It’s an added cultural level that further complicates the whole process of questioning and accepting yourself, coming out to family, and living true to your heart.

Representation

Besides my struggles with questions of family and culture, the other big problem I had (and still have to some extent) is the lack of social representation of Asian or Asian American queers. In the mainstream media in Taiwan, there’s not a lot of representation of LGBTQ+ people; in America, there’s maybe a bit more, but intersectionality is a big player. Yeah there’s gay characters in some mainstream shows and films – but they tend to only be gay white males, and when there’s people of color, they’re almost never Asian. So when I was questioning my sexual orientation and other facets of my identity in the past few years, I kept wondering: What is a queer Asian female-assigned person supposed to look like and act like? And underlying that question, another: Am I queer ‘enough’? Will people accuse me of pretending, of not actually being queer, because I don’t look or act ‘right’?

Lack of representation of the subordinate group is a manifestation of any system of oppression. Minority faces are erased, their voices are silenced, their existence is shoved backstage or downstairs, so that the dominant group can control and rewrite both history and society. So the lack of representation of queer Asian women is a form of oppression and something that I believe needs to be fixed. However, at the same time and on an individual level, I’ve recently also come to understand this lack of representation as a form of freedom for me. There isn’t any particular way I have to look or act or be – I can just be myself. I can be true to my heart without worrying about matching up to media representations of what other people think I’m supposed to be.

Race and Gender Identity and Expression

My Childhood, My Parents

Now I’m going to switch gears and really talk about my experience of being Asian and nonbinary. I decided to separate this section out because it really differs from my experience of just happening to be attracted to girls. In looking at the ways being Asian or Asian American has impacted my life, its intersections with my sexual orientation and my gender identity exist on different planes. Where my parents were tolerant and accepting of gay people, they were more resistant against things that contradicted social and cultural norms of gender, and I don’t know how they’d react if I told them I identify as nonbinary.

As I mentioned before, my sister M really paved the way for me. She rejected a lot of traditional female gender roles. She refused to wear skirts and dresses and ‘girly’ things, she didn’t like shopping or makeup. She went to university, and she went into engineering. She changed to a more masculine-presenting haircut and image. Our maternal grandmother recently found an old picture of her, back when she had long black hair and presented more feminine, and commented to her, “Look, you were a girl then.” She still is – she just expresses in a more androgynous or masculine way. And she taught me that it’s okay to do the same. She taught me that it’s okay to be comfortable in myself, to present myself however way I feel best. It wasn’t easy for her, and it’s still not easy for me. My parents still tried to get me to wear feminine clothes for the longest time. My father would sometimes remark that my knee-length shorts were ugly, that I should wear shorts that are much shorter – like a girl. My mother would still buy me skirts and dresses. My father doesn’t really like my short hair. They didn’t always understand my preferences, they weren’t always the most open to letting me express the way I wanted to express – but I know that on the inside, they were and are still trying, and it’s getting better.

I just don’t know how they would feel about this new term, “nonbinary.” I introduced it to my mother last year, in a somewhat passing side conversation. I mentioned that Apple had released new nonbinary emojis, and used that – I know it sounds ridiculous – to explain to my mother what the word means. I don’t know if she really understands. I don’t know if my father would understand. But for me, for the most part, that’s alright, because like I said, I don’t feel the need to be out, and I don’t care very much about how other people see or think of me. That’s why I don’t care about what pronouns are used to refer to me. But for other people, who need recognition and validation, who need to feel explicitly accepted by their families and others, life like this can be really hard. That’s why education and representation are so, so important. Being Asian or Asian American adds another level of complexity.

Social and Cultural Pressures

A lot of the cultural struggles and questions I listed above for sexuality also apply for gender. In a culture that is so based around family and reputation and fitting in, it’s hard to be yourself if that means standing out. Gender roles in traditional Asian cultures at large are pretty defined. One of my personal biggest challenges was getting through cultural activities in Chinese School. In one year, my class was supposed to do a pop dance, and it was pretty gender neutral, so even though I hate dancing, I participated – and ended up as lead dancer, on account of being the only one who did the homework and actually learned the dance. Even though I didn’t like it at all, I got through it. But the following year (and maybe the year after, I don’t really remember) we were supposed to do a traditional Chinese dance, wearing qipao. For those unfamiliar, a qipao is a very feminine close-fitting dress. And I absolutely, absolutely hated the idea of wearing one, let alone going up on stage with it and waving around a fan and dancing. I couldn’t see a way out of it – it’s not as though I could have gone up to my teacher and said “I’m nonbinary” and she would have let me sit it out. I don’t know if there’s even a word in Mandarin for nonbinary gender. In the end – and I’m not very proud of this – I used my bad shoulder as an excuse to not have to do the dance. My shoulder probably wouldn’t have been that much of a problem for the slow type of dance we were supposed to do, but I said that it hurt, and I got out of it. “Bad girl,” they might have said if they knew. “Shameful.” “Disgrace on your family,” yada yada yada. (That’s an exaggeration, obviously, but what if it wasn’t just a school dance?)

Representation

And what about representation of gender-nonconforming (whether identity, expression, or both) Asians/Asian Americans? Little to none, though in some sense that’s debatable. Conceptions of femininity and masculinity in Asian cultures aren’t always the same as in the West; Asian men are often depicted or described as naturally Western-feminine, and looked down upon for it. So seeing images of guys who looked more “feminine” to me was in itself a form of representation. But in my questioning of my identity, I was personally searching for more representation than that. For something bigger, something more meaningful, I really had to dig. What came up was Japanese visual kei.

I’ve talked about vkei a lot before on this blog and elsewhere, but for those unaware, visual kei is a Japanese musical style that emphasizes the visual appearance and expression, typically in ways that result in gender-nonconforming costumes, hair, makeup, and so on. I remember the story of how the all-male members of X Japan, old vkei giants and one of my favorite bands, were once criticized for dressing too feminine – so the next week, they showed up dressed as princesses. Hearing stories like these, of musicians challenging traditional conservative gender norms, thrilled me. I loved getting into various visual kei artists, watching videos of their concerts, exploring their different modes of expression, because for me, this all meant representation. It meant representation and it meant empowerment, and it was something that at the time I was hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Vkei is still my favorite music, its artists still my favorite and sometimes the only artists on my daily playlists, and I’m still slowly and steadily exploring this style.

Visual kei was what gave me, personally, a reflection of my gender-nonconforming self and all the ways I could be free to express the way I wanted to be. But the fact that I had to dig hard and come up with an Asian musical genre to make up for the lack of representation of Asian queers in America says a lot. Gender-nonconforming folks of all races and backgrounds, as a whole, do not receive much representation at all, and this needs to change.

Closing

This is my story of my life so far and how the intersectionality of being Asian and queer has shaped it. What I want to hear now are your stories. If you’re Asian, or queer, or both, or if you know anyone who identifies as such or has been affected by these identities, I want to hear what you think about this topic. Leave a comment or an email. Let’s talk about it!

Take care of yourselves and have a great week.

KT

Entry #25 – Recent Artist Inspirations

Hi everyone, it’s Kohaku. I hope you all had a good week.

There’s certainly a lot of tension in the world right now – in all kinds of places, for all kinds of reasons. The U.S. and Iran, Iran and the Ukraine, Taiwan’s elections, Hong Kong, North Korea – just to name a few. I really wish that humans could just learn to love one another, to do away with war and violence, to tolerate and coexist. Do you think it’s possible? Can we save ourselves? I really wonder sometimes.

Anyway, as promised, I’m going to talk about my recent artist inspirations today. I think art is incredibly important for people to get in touch with their emotions and develop strong connections with each other. Art can teach us love and peace, tolerance and coexistence, creativity and sensitivity. So, I always try to continuously expose myself to new art and artists, and at the same time I make an effort to pay attention to what goes into my own art – whether that’s writing, photography, painting, or anything else.

Most of what I’ve been doing recently has to do with music. Here are the music artists that I’ve mainly been listening to recently.


~ YOHIO

I think YOHIO is incredible. His singing voice is great, in English and in Japanese, and the amount of effort and creativity he puts into his music videos always impresses me. He’s very young, too, and with the quantity and quality of the content he continues to put out, he’s quickly shaping up to be one of my favorite visual kei artists. I’m looking forward to his new album!


~ RADWIMPS

RADWIMPS never ceases to amaze me. Not visual kei, but I first got into them after watching 「君の名は。」 years ago, and have been steadily working through their discography since. From upbeat soft rock jams, to the annual introspective pieces based on 3.11 like 「夜の淵」 and 「カイコ」, their variety of songs and general style and lyrics really appeal to me. Recently I discovered some of their older songs, as well as a lot of songs I’ve just never listened to. I was stunned after viewing the music video for 「光」. It’s a great song, plus LGBTQ representation… there goes my heart. Here’s the MV below:


~ Yellow Fried Chickenz

I started listening to some of their songs again. I think YFCz was a really interesting band. I loved the diversity and quality of the members, and really enjoyed hearing dual vocals. Some of their songs sound a bit crazy, and it can seem sometimes like the musicians were really just fooling around and having a good time, but then out of nowhere they’ll hit you with a tragic heartthrob like 「Mata koko de aimashou」… Look that one up. The video makes me cry!


~ Kiyoharu / Kuroyume

Most recently, I’ve been listening to Kuroyume and vocalist Kiyoharu’s solo works. I love his voice, and the overall sound and style of the band. I can’t say anything much more than that yet, since I haven’t listened to very much for very long, but I’ll be working through their discography in the coming weeks. Kind of late to the party, but it’s never too late for music!


That’s all I can think of for right now really. I want to keep finding more artists to listen to, as well as diving deeper into the works of the artists I already love. How about you all? Who have you been watching, reading, or listening to recently? What’s going into your art?

Take care of yourselves. Lots of love and be at peace.

KT

Entry #24 – Keep Moving Forward

Hey everyone, it’s Kohaku. How are things, one week into the new year? I hope everyone is taking care.

Recently, I have been thinking… to keep moving forward is one of the most important things, right? You can’t let yourself get stuck in one time or place – you have to keep learning new things, exposing yourself to new inspirations, taking on new challenges, chasing after new opportunities. It doesn’t have to be that active, really. Sometimes you crawl, sometimes you walk, and sometimes you run – and sometimes you need to take a few steps backward, too – but so long as you’re largely moving forward, isn’t that okay?

I was feeling a little stuck, so I want to remind myself to keep moving forward. It’s something I often find myself reminding others to make sure of, too. I think it’s important to not loose sight of that.

Next week, I’ll probably do a post on recent artist inspirations… and maybe I might work on a project. I’d like to do more projects now, as opposed to individual short pieces, but it’s really up to time and situation. I really want to improve myself, in my writing and in other ways. Hopefully I’ll be more free for these kinds of things, in these early weeks of the new year.

Anyway, I’ll at least make sure to keep moving forward. You all make sure of that too. So many people are stuck these days, I think…

Take care of yourselves!

KT

Last Night ~2019~

on this final moonlit night
we look back and ask ourselves:
where are we?
who have we become?
and now, where are we going?

dozens of years have come and gone,
and here we are at the edge of dawn
with what?
can you see?
having locked our memories in chests full of blood,
we can no longer hear our own children’s screams –
how stupid can we be!
thinking we can put a face to tragedy –
as if humans ever understood humanity.
to what we have done, no thing can compare,
and we continue to do it on a childish dare,
putting up fronts of sincerity and sadness,
spray painting over our internal madness.
this world…
a cold desert with no horizons,
no longer a place of life –
it’s a meaningless battleground!
but, after all,
darkness is not something
unknown to man.
you always knew this…
I love you all, but it’s beyond my control –
humanity is determined to rip apart my soul.

day after day, I watch
waiting for the world
to transform into a rose –
perhaps, a rainbow…
tracing your outline over and over again,
my tears become the gentle rain.
you always knew what I didn’t…
we’re burning in the light of day,
living our lives without a say,
still struggling to find the way,
and I know I don’t belong here –
but I’m forced to share this dream.

the world I tried to find
never existed in my time…
so condemned for eternity,
I forever watch this path.
still, chasing the horizon
that will never end for me,
I will close my eyes and say,
“I will not give up hope today.”
your parting words grace my lips
there’ll be no war today, I think –
it’s our love after all.

can we believe in an impossible world?
I can’t live without it…
but tonight I understand that it’s only a dream –
one we can’t reach, one still too extreme.
her whispered words
“you won’t live to see that day”
so I walked without a future…
well, to sprout and bloom and die,
maybe this too is our life.
just like you before me
I know that I’m not here to stay,
but at least I can say I’ve tried –
now, I’m searching for a place to die
just waiting for the right time.

but in that single instant I –
I can only think of you…
I call out for a love that
was never mine to cherish,
reaching out for the days we shared
and the tomorrows we left behind.
promising “one day, someday, some time…”
in the future one of us lacked.
if only they would let us live…
so you said –
can you feel it?
time is slowing down for you
so that you can smile again…
what words!
humanity wasn’t fair to you,
and unfortunately you were human too –
and yet you see that I love you
because our hearts just grew and grew
together, we bend their definitions
expanding what it means to be alive.
was this all not worth it in the end?

someday, the world will understand me
and we can live as we were meant to be –
but right now, in our shared dream,
we are still struggling,
searching for the words to say,
words that might still change the world someday.
at least, for today
we look into each other’s eyes
and we say, “we will not go.”
we say “this is not the end.”
we say, on this day of endless dawn,
the sun will rise again.
this goodbye is not forever…
we will meet again.


Happy New Year, everyone. Lots of love to our one global humanity. Let’s make a good 2020, together.

KT

Best of ~2019~

Hi everyone, Kohaku again! As promised, today’s post is a top-ten best-of compilation of my published work from 2019. It was really difficult to narrow it down to ten. I tried to gather from across my various styles and genres as well as from throughout the whole year, and I also wanted to not have any repeats (so any work within an already-featured compilation was automatically out of the running for anything else). Without any more of my blabbering, here are my top-ten picks from my work this past year. In no particular order:

  1. Songs Without End [Short Story]
  2. lost in time [Poetry, Poem-Song]
  3. 「VANGUARD: Flagbearer of Nocturnal Skies」 [Poetry Compilation]
  4. Another Year Has Gone… [Poetry, General]
  5. 永遠の歌 [Poetry, Tanka]
  6. Photography in Canada [Photography]
  7. Life = Suffering + Love [Zuihitsu Collection]
  8. Entry #4 – Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, and Art as a Tool for Activism [Journal Entry]
  9. Prologue, To Walk in the Footsteps of Angels [Serial Writing]
  10. Mental Health and the Failure of Our Education System [Uncategorized Writing]

What about you all? What were your favorites from my work this year? I’d like to know, because I really do reflect on my writing and artwork a lot.

Everyone take care. See you tomorrow for my year-end message.

KT.

Entry #23 – This Week's Releases, and Passing Into the New Year

Hi everyone, it’s Kohaku; I hope you all are safely enjoying the holidays!

Tomorrow, I will have a 2019 best-of compilation for you guys. It was a bit of work to compile, especially because I had challenged myself to post something every day since the summer. There was a lot of writing to sift through! But I guess it was good that I did more poetry than prose this year, since it takes less time to read. I narrowed everything down to about 30 pieces, and then cut it to 10, trying to pick from all the different styles and genres. So I’ll share that with you guys tomorrow, and I also want to hear what you guys liked from my work this year too.

The day after, on the 31st, I’ll have another longer work – a piece that will reflect on the year overall, as well as look forward and carry us into the new year. I guess it’s a compilation in a kind of roundabout way, but it’s easier to read it as just one long message strung together. I’m not really sure how it’s going to turn out in the end, but please do look forward to that too!

Also, I might have another something special on the 1st. I haven’t totally decided yet. I guess we’ll see when we get there.

I really wonder about a lot of things at the end of the year. I’ve been told from various people that it takes a lot of energy to go from one year to the next, and some years are harder than others for certain types of people. Whether that’s factually true or not, I can’t say, but it’s not hard to believe. It’s a bit scary how many bad or threatening events in my personal life have begun to pile up right around this time. So I hope you all are safe, healthy, and conserving your energy to make the years’ crossing. Hopefully, we won’t leave too many loved ones behind.

That’s not to end on a depressing note, of course. Are you all looking after your loved ones? Have you paid attention to them? Have you thanked them lately? It’s a good time now to reflect on your behavior towards the people you care for. That’s what the holidays are really about: people, and love. Right? Hopefully, in this coming year, we can achieve our loving dreams and realize our one global humanity and happiness.

Well, I don’t think I had much more to say. It feels weird that this will be the last journal entry of 2019. Anyway, happy new year, 新年快乐, 良いお年を〜! Fingers crossed, I’ll see you again on the other side.

K.T.

Entry #22 – 「VANGUARD」Reflection, 「Anniversary」Releases Tomorrow, Christmas

Hi everyone! It’s Kohaku. I hope you all had a great week.

The poetry compilation 「VANGUARD: Flagbearer of Nocturnal Skies」released this past Monday. How was it? I’m pretty happy with how it turned out; there’s some really good stuff in there. Here’s a question – what do you think the message of the whole compilation is? In other words, what did you take away after reading it? Overall messages are important, and while I certainly know how I interpreted it, I’d like to know how you guys interpreted it too.

Anyway, as I promised, there’s another poetry compilation coming out tomorrow. It’s called 「Anniversary ~2019~」, and unlike other compilations, it’s composed entirely of already published material, just gathered and put together in a new format. It’ll be longer than usual, too, and it will have a preface, something I haven’t included since 「DOUBLE-SIDED」. It feels like it’s been forever since then… time really does fly. Well, look forward to the compilation coming out tomorrow, and let me know what you think!

Christmas is coming up, for those who celebrate it. I hope you all are able to spend some meaningful time with your families; I’m definitely doing my best with mine. Take care of yourselves, and reserve the strength you need to make it through the holidays and the end of the year. It gets tough around this time, doesn’t it? For some more than others, sure, but passing into the new year can be pretty rough for us all. Just do your best to keep moving forward.

Anyone have any favorite Christmas music? I don’t like the music that gets played a lot where I live, not because the songs are bad necessarily, but because they play the same five or six songs over and over again, every year, everywhere. I just want more variety, that’s all. I don’t really celebrate the holiday though, so it’s not as if it matters terribly to me. Well, for the past few years whenever it gets around this time, I tend to pull up and re-listen to these two tracks: GACKT’s「12月のLove Song」, and Makihara Noriyuki & Hamada Masatoshi’s「Chicken Rice」. They’re my personal Christmas staples.

I think next week I might talk about my recent artist inspirations. I’ve been listening to new music recently – it’s important to always keep learning and exploring new things. That’s what it means to keep moving forward. Well, until then~

Take care,

KT

Entry #21 – 「VANGUARD」Releases Tomorrow

Hey everyone, it’s Kohaku. I hope you all had a fantastic week.

Before we know it, the year will be over. A lot of people are getting holiday breaks or vacations of some kind – but that’s not an excuse to laze around, right? It takes a lot of strength to go into the new year, and lazing around won’t help anything. So if you have the time, definitely rest and recuperate, but make sure you’re doing these and other things in a meaningful way. Cherish your time with your family, if you have one. Spend time doing things you enjoy that will help make you a better person. Don’t waste the time and things and people that you have!

Anyhow, good news – I have a new poetry compilation for you. It’s called 「VANGUARD: Flagbearer of Nocturnal Skies」, and it releases tomorrow! Please do look forward to it, and let me know what you think. I put a lot of heart into this one, and I’m pretty satisfied with how it turned out, so I hope that you will be, too.

Two more compilations and at least one other project coming up at the end of the year. Is everyone ready? Thanks for holding out with me this far. I don’t have much more to say right now, but I’ll have a lot more time to write and such in the next few weeks, so expect some new quality stuff. In the meantime, take care of yourselves!

KT

Entry #20 – Dinner Party #2

Hi everyone, Kohaku here, I hope you all had a good week. How’s December turning out for you?

It’s been ten weeks, and ten journal entries, since I first talked about my Dinner Party project. If you weren’t here then or don’t remember, you can read details about the background of the project and my first list here: Entry #10 – Dinner Party. But for those who don’t want to, I’ll just quickly summarize what the project actually is. The basic premise is to keep a list of 10 famous people whom you admire or respect, people who inspire you in your daily life and work. Then, track how this list changes over time.

Anyhow, I thought ten weeks later is a pretty good time to publish a new list. There are some new people on it, because, as always, I’ve been actively seeking out new inspirations and learning about new things. These new inspirations replaced some of the old ones, to keep the list at 10, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like or draw inspiration from those old people anymore. The Dinner Party project is just a snapshot of the 10 people who are most inspiring to you at this particular moment.

So, here we go with my second list. New entries are bolded, and like before, I’ve linked their Wiki pages or websites so you can read a quick basic bio on them if you’re interested.

In no particular order:

  1. Yuzuru HANYU (羽生結弦)
  2. Yoshiki (林佳樹)
  3. Hans LINDAHL
  4. GACKT (大城 ガクト)
  5. YOHIO (Kevin Johio Lucas Rehn EIRES)
  6. Hayao MIYAZAKI (宮崎駿)
  7. Yojiro NODA (野田洋次郎)
  8. Haruki MURAKAMI (村上春樹 )
  9. HYDE (寶井秀人)
  10. Chachamaru (藤村幸宏)

How is it? Have you heard about them before – the new entries, or the older ones too if this is your first time?

You can learn a lot about a person by studying the people they admire. That’s one reason I decided to start publishing this project on my blog. If you want to know the values that I care about, the people who inspire me and my work, this is a big part of it.

And now, again, what about you? What does your list look like, right now? If you made a list last time, has it changed since then? Who is inspiring you and your work right this moment? This week, think about that again. It’s important to reflect on these things.

I’ve got three compilations and another project that’ll be released in the last three weeks of December, so stay tuned. Take care of yourselves!

KT

Entry #19 – Thanksgiving, and Acoustic vs. Electronic Music

Hey everyone, it’s Kohaku. Hope you all had a safe and happy week.

Well, American Thanksgiving happened, and Black Friday and all of that. For those who celebrate Thanksgiving, did you have a good, authentic time with your families? Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see some of my family this year, but I enjoyed the time I had with those I could. That’s important, don’t you think?

Well, anyway, what are you all thankful for? What does this holiday mean to you? Holidays are pretty subjective – I said that when discussing Halloween. I guess for some people, Thanksgiving is about food. For some, it’s about the upcoming Black Friday sales. For some, it’s about seeing family and friends. For some, it’s about mourning America’s history of genocide. Thanksgiving is different things for different people – just like Halloween, New Year’s Day, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and so on. Holidays are interesting like that.

Anyhow, beyond Thanksgiving, I thought I’d like to talk about something music-related this week, since I think I mentioned my new guitar last time.

Here’s a question for you all: do you prefer acoustic or electronic music?

An interesting question, I think, especially in this day and age. The use of electronics in music is getting more and more prevalent – and there’s different levels to electronic music, different types and so on. So the question itself can be surprisingly broad.

I’ve been thinking about this recently, and I think that for me personally, I definitely prefer acoustic. But sometimes I’m okay with electronic amplification. Electric guitars, for instance, I generally do like. So for me it’s not about a strict electric versus acoustic “sound.”

In debating this question, the thing that bothers me is how the music is made – how the sound is produced, and who is producing it. I value virtuosic, technically-skilled musicians who have gone through years of practice and training and effort and can produce unique, incredible sounds on their chosen instrument/s. I value hearing the actual instrument – hearing the strum of the guitar, the sliding of the fingers up and down the strings, the vibrations beneath the piano, the tiny characteristics unique to each singer’s raw voice. I value being able to actually watch a musician play their instrument in this way.

In contrast, I don’t like music that is very electronic or synth-heavy, music that is programmed, music that is produced, pre-recorded, and altered digitally and then played by pressing a button. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with this kind of music, and I’m not saying that it doesn’t take skill and artistic creativity to produce it. Many people do like it, and it’s certainly the right of musicians around the world to be able to utilize the latest technology to pursue the limits of what is auditorily and musically possible. I’ve also nothing against electronic distribution of music, which is definitely better for the environment at any rate. I just personally do not like music that is not really produced on an actual “instrument.” It feels to me almost inauthentic.

Some musicians are able to balance these two types of music very well. And some musicians can produce very good electronic music. It’s really quite up to personal preference, so having stated mine, I’d like to ask: what about you? What does “acoustic versus electronic” mean to you, and which do you prefer? Do you care? Does it matter?

Give your musical preferences some thought this week, won’t you? Music is important. I think a lot of people underestimate how important it can be.

Take care of yourselves.

KT