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

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

Entry #18 — Sometimes, It’s Okay

Hi everyone, Kohaku here. I hope you all had a fantastic week.

Personally, I was pretty stressed out. As I’ve been saying the past couple entries, I’ve been busy. But overall it hasn’t been too bad.

I’m starting to look towards December and the end of the year. I mentioned it a while ago, but I’ve already had some projects in the works that’ll be released in this final month of 2019. I’ll work hard to get them out and of good quality by then.

Anyway, yesterday I went out and spent a few hundred on a new guitar. I was really excited, and I’m very happy with it so far. It’s quite rare for me to be going out and spending money, especially this much all at once, but I think that sometimes, it’s okay. Sometimes, you need to treat yourself. And as long as you think carefully about it and the object of your spending will truly contribute to your happiness and growth, it should be worth it. Of course, I’m always objecting to the materialism and consumerism that today’s society is built upon. I don’t agree with just spending money and buying all the things all the time. But once in a while, if you need it, if you give it proper thought and make sure it’s good and right for you, I think you can go ahead.

What about you all? Do you think carefully before you purchase things? Do you allow yourself a treat now and then that will help you take care of yourself and grow? This week, think about that. I think it’s very important to give your consumerism some critical thought.

Be safe and take care,

KT

Entry #17 – Taking Care of Yourself

Hi everyone, Kohaku here; I hope everybody had a great week.

With respect to writing, I got more done this week than I expected, so I’m glad. Even so, life is still really busy, and I’m stressed and tired. Things will sort themselves out soon. Until then, all I can do is keep moving forward.

I’ve been trying to do a lot recently. I’m working hard, learning a lot of new things, and chasing after new experiences and opportunities. And while that’s all well and good, I think it’s important for us to remember that we don’t have to do everything. Sometimes, some days, it’s important to let yourself sleep in, relax, make some hot tea and curl up by the window with a good book. Treat yourself to a nice warm bath, maybe an afternoon nap. Stay home. Spend time with yourself for once.

Sometimes, because of the way our society works, we can’t afford to do this. I think that’s a problem – but there are lots of ways to argue it. I just wish society at large would accept and prioritize the importance of the health of individuals, which greatly depends on being able to have relaxing days like these.

I’m just incredibly tired. I need a break, but don’t we all? We each have to find our own ways to recharge and keep on going. This week, think about what you do to take care of yourself, and do it. Your health and happiness depend on it, right? Do your best to make time for that; just do whatever you can, and keep walking forward.

Take care~

KT

Entry #16 – Chasing Time, and Birthdays

Hi everyone, Kohaku here. I hope you all had a great week.

I’m tired and writing quickly, so please excuse this short post and any English errors! I know I haven’t been putting out a lot of good quality stuff lately – or at least I’m not super proud of most of my recent posts – but I hope you’ll believe me when I say I have a lot of exciting plans for my future work! I just have to find the time to actually do that work, and it seems like time has run away from me lately.

At least it has run away to good things. A lot of the stuff I’m doing in my personal life right now is providing me with creative ideas, so hopefully once I have some time to sit down and work at it, I’ll produce some writings I can be proud of. Right now I’m just trying to make at least one high-quality post per week. I wrote Last Dawn a few days ago, have you all read it? It was for a dear friend’s birthday. He really means a lot to me and I’m glad the poem turned out well.

We’re one year older now… and this year is almost over. It’s rather crazy, but as they say, time flies. I’ll do my best to chase it and maybe one day in the future I’ll catch up. For now, I just want to make sure I’m doing the best I can. With everything.

This week, think about where you are in relation to time. Are you living in the present, fully content with where and who you are? Are you chasing after your future, your dreams and aspirations, things that might not come to be but are worth chasing anyway? Or are you living in the future? Sometimes, we need to take a deep breath and put on the brakes. If you’ve gotten ahead of yourself, think about that. I get ahead of myself a lot.

Anyhow, take care. Don’t forget to smile.

KT