Tag Archives: Furikake

Books by Book Merah

Book Merah has primarily published the works of Stephen Black, the exception being Singapore Literature prize winner Cyril Wong.Book Merah is now open to discussions with writers.

Stephen Black's books and stories are often set in Asia, and combine research with storytelling. The links below lead to reviews, descriptions, photos and videos, as well as links to Amazon and Unglue.

I Ate Tiong Bahru

A bestseller in Singapore...
black and white book covers

Bali Wave Ghost

Obama Search Words by Stephen Black

Obama Search Words

Red chairs, and Cyril Wong: the cover of Fires.

Fires, by Cyril Wong

the cover of furikake; a photograph of a dancer on a farm, the title and the author's name, Stephen Black. Also on the cover is a description: short stories about rice seasonings.


The word 'Stephen', a rectangle of black and a red dot/
red dot SAD (Stories Art, Digitalia 2002-2017) book by Stephen Black

Red Dot SAD

Publishing Magnates
Stephen Black , Book Merah CEO/author , with Stuart Rankin, Chairman of The Dundercats Multimedia Group.
Book covers of Singapore books
cover by Debbie Ding

Contact With Shadow

Lance, the moose from Secret Donut World, contemplates a skull, ala the poor Yorick scene from Hamlet.

Flame Magnet

Alphabet Spikes

Book covers from books by Book Merah. Authors include Stephen Black and Cyril Wong

Despite having produced one bestseller, Book Merah has done no marketing. Marketing will begin in 2020.

Furikake, a collection of stories about rice seasonings, by Stephen Black

The Author Show audio  interview with Stephen Black about Furikake.

Furikake is on Amazon here.

"a truly enjoyable reading, between a memoir and a travel diary in which one can easily recognize fragments of oneself.

- Carla Bonollo, whose Italian language blog can be found here.

Furikake is the Japanese word for the spices and ingredients sprinkled upon rice. It is one of my favorite foods, and in Clementi, i ate it often. I wrote this while I was living in the Clementi is an area of Singapore, and, for about two years, my three room apartment there was extremely cheap. More importantly, I became very good friends with a group who represented the diversity and tolerance of Singapore. In i ate tiong bahru, there is a short story about the day we met at an Indian temple for the memorial service of one of our group.

Clementi was close to the water and a park. There were great places to eat. Clementi is where I met Joe the Diver, who not only became a great friend, but also joined 3how on stage several times. Here is a story about one of those times.

At the i ate tiong bahru launch party, Joe sang a song...

Furikake was a challenge to write, for a few reasons. Ebooks were very new at the time. Amazon had just released the Kindle, but the take up in Singapore was very slow; if I remember correctly it was not possible to buy ebooks in Singapore at the time. And, of course, my writing style and topics are not exactly mainstream. Unkown writer, unknown publisher. Furikake was a commitment to the art and craft of writing; despite the odds against success.

A story from Furikake is here.

Furikake is on Amazon here.

PS There is a blog post with more excepts from Furikake. the formatting is strange, so I am not linking to it, but it can easily be found. The post also explains why Furikake once had the ugliest cover on Amazon.


If you are at SXSW, this is the blog post you would likely be most interested in: http://www.blacksteps.tv/wall-clouding/ onwARd! Stephen Black .....an interview with SB during SXSW ......SB onstage at MIT (DeAR in the headlights remix)...... ..........MUSIC! 3how!on CDBABY!........ ............VIDEO ROCKNROLL MEMORIES........... ..................................3how.... ...a story about 3how..... However... these books are now discounted on Amazon, during SXSW... On Amazon: i ate tiong bahru Fires Furikake Bali Wave Ghost Ipoh: 88 iPhone Photographs by Bubiko Foodtour Obama Search Words Alphabet Spikes Flame Magnet red dot SAD Hello, and welcome to the world of Book Merah. Here you will find our latest publications, as well as our classics. Although we have not yet started any organized publicity or marketing campaigns, we are very fortunate to be connecting with readers around the world. Now, to celebrate the Hong Kong Book Fair, we are giving away, or discounting, all that is Book Merah, with two exceptions. Amazon does not allow us to discount the i ate tiong bahru audio book, and Contact With Shadow is supporting the mission of our friends at Unglue. minimalist book cover i ate tiong bahru is a bestseller in Singapore.

The classic coffee mug reborn with a pop art, postmodern touch.

I ATE TIONG BAHRU IS IN A DISCOUNT CAMPAIGN ON AMAZON until JULY 29. The Sooner You Buy, the More You Save! Fires is a collection of poems by Cyril Wong. There is now a discount on Fires!
photography as part of book cover design

a photograph of a dancer on a farm, the title and the author's name

Furikake: a collectrion of short stories, all containing a reference to furikake, which is a Japanese rice seasoning. Some of the stories are spicy, some are tasteless, some are a fusion of East and West and Clementi, a community in Singapore. Furikake... now on sale!
Publishing Magnates

Stephen Black, Book Merah CEO/author, with Stuart Rankin, Chairman of The Dundercats Multimedia Group.

black and white book covers Bali Wave Ghost: reading it is like surfing through the mind of a character who is both guilt-ridden and hedonistic. A portrait of contemporary life in Bali; a meditation on the times we live in. Kinda romantic as well. Bali Wave Ghost... Free download! The basis for perhaps the world's first AR photo exhibition. These photos capture the spirit of Ipoh; especially its food culture. Ipoh: 88 iPhone Photographs by Bubiko Foodtour, now a free download. Fact-based fiction about the 44th President of the United States. Includes stories about his time in Jakarta, Hawaii, Chicago and New York City. Obama Search Words now on sale.

ebook now available on Amazon

As of this moment, this book only has stories about AR in it. However i the next few days, there will be essays about VR, and some surprises. After you buy this, send me an email so as to get the updates, free of charge. Yes, this is an experiment; trying to see if I can use Amazon as a basis for a cross between subscriptions and crowdfunding. Ultimately this will be a compilation of my experiences and stories as a digital nomad. Alphabet Spikes... FREE
lance from Secret Donut World

Flame Magnet is go!
Art by David Severn

Flame Magnet! Another experiment... short stories, and the start of a long adventure. Send me your email and you'll receive the new stories, free of charge, of course. Flame Magnet is priceless 'til July 24!
minimal book covers

red dot SAD (Stories Art, Digitalia 2002-2017) book by Stephen Black

My own art experiences, as well as pieces that were written for magazines or fellow artists. Another project in which I will update this periodically; send me your email to get the updated version. To give you an example of art in Singapore, take a look at this. red dot SAD THANKS FOR YOUR INTEREST IN BOOK MERAH! Bubiko says hi! Bubiko's food adventures.. Aroi mak Mak!

FOODHACK! HK Poly June 15-17

EELCOIN! (The foodhack was a weekend full of hard work and hope. I was on a team with Beeno, Ann, Sayuri and Kerong. We worked and ate amongst talented people who shared ideas and experiences related to fixing global food challenges.)

Welcome HK Foodhackers!

My name is Stephen Black and I have worked with food as an artist, as a photographer, a videomaker and someone with an interest in AR. Following are introductions to some of my food-related projects, including books.

Bubiko Foodtour is on her way to becoming an AR superstar! This week I just concluded workshops and presentations about AR, here at HK Poly.

Presentations and workshops by Stephen Black

Bubiko Foodtour is on Instagram.

A summary of the AR presentations at HK Poly

My experiences on a permaculture farm in Bali.

I am an unofficial representative for sustainable organic coffee and tea from Northern Thailand.


photography as part of book cover design

Furikake: japanese rice seasonings. Food-related short stories.


A national bestseller in Singapore

i ate tiong bahru on Goodreads.

i ate tiong bahru on Amazon

i ate tiong bahru audiobook

Check Amazon for other food-related books by Stephen Black.

And this book features a protagonist who is an amateur chef specializing in molecular cuisine.

Writing and the Digital Avante-garde

The slides are explained here.

TEST READERS WANTED: If you would like to be one of the first to read about ANTIGONE CLOUD, email Stephen Black at bubikofoodtour@gmail.com

Antigone Cloud is a ten-year old girl who is actually an arbot, a softwre program made of light. Antigone, who lives in Singapore, has the body of a ghost and the mind of an emotional computer.

Haptics: Bubiko, Lei Cha and Data Science (Ingredients)

This is the second post in a series in which I have fun with lei cha, haptics and Bubiko. Later, when things are more organized and clear, I hope this catch the interest of data scientists, information specialists and CG filmmakers/animators. There is a fun dimension to all of this, but I seriously wonder what would happen if 1% of the earth's population ate one bowl of lei cha a week...10%? 100% ?What would happen environmentally, economically and to the health of everyone and the planet?

For now, a list of ingredients. In a future post, I will describe the ingredients and add links.If you know some ingredients that I missed, please add them in the comments section. Also, tips on places that make great lei cha are always welcome! Those too, can go in the comments section.

OK...the ingredients.(NOT a recipe)

The tea broth above is from Vege Station in Johor Jaya, one of my favorite places for lei cha.


100 gram basil

30 grams cilantro

Some salt

Sweet potato leaves



Green beans

Chinese long beans (long-podded cowpeas)

Celery stalks



Acenthopanax trifoliateus




Moringa leaves



Dried peeled shrimp

Sautéed meat

Dried tofu


Dried radish

Snow lotus



Gordon Euryale seeds

Green peas

Job’s tears

Chinese yam




Mung or scarlet runner beans


Black soybeans

Millet wheat

Wheat or red wheat




Brown rice

It is likely that there are other ingredients.


You are probably here because you received a piece of paper from me.   HELLO   I am writing this on Thursday, November 24....  a very full day. Probably on Sunday I can come back and fill this page full of descriptions and links about my projects. For now... SPOKEN at www.gallery.sg this was created with Eugene Soh and is full of art and writing. It requires a 10 meg download, which is free. Beach Road You'll need a VR viewing device to see this short film which was featured at the 2015 Brisbane Film Festival and nominated for Best Experimental Film at the 2016 Las Vegas VR Fest. Descriptions of my books including videos and reviews. Please consider taking a look at my crowdfunding projects for a Tiong Bahru poster AND a book on the way that technology has affected cinematography. And, scattered throughout this blog are posts about art, post full of photography, short stories and posts about all kinds of things.   THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!   Stephen Black    

Iron Fire Riceball Singapore Tour

"Art"... such a misused word. In the case of the thumb kways, the "art" label was easy to understand, in that the kways looked like thumbprints, which made them a form of self-portraiture, among other things. But now, these miso furikake riceballs... why do I label them as an artwork as opposed to, say, promotion for my Furikake book? Or marketing for Mom Natura? Or promotion for Tawaraya Rice? Ultimately, art is communication and self-portraiture. With the Iron Fire Furikake Miso Riceball  Tour, we went out, communicated, learned about natural food stores in Singapore and had fun. We weren't out to sell anything, just wanted to share the magic of rice and iron fire miso furikake.... We set out hoping to interact with most of the stores on this list.   First stop: 67 Aliwal Street. Two people had an iron fire furikake miso riceball experience. This image was created:misoriceball tour 003_scc riceballs Aliwal wall A haiku poet! Dave Tai who, like a Zen master, listened to me describe the riceball artworks. He then became one with the riceball.  http://www.haikufever.com/ misoriceball tour 005_haiku writer misoriceball tour 009_typewriterNext stop: Shaw Towers, where we had surprised Karen Ong and Lee Hui Lun at Oasis Organic the day  before. Another riceball experience! The shop had just received a big delivery, so we only took this shot, of a shelf where the goods had already been unpacked neatly... misoriceball tour 011_edited Oasis shop interior Then, we did something we don't do often: we ate meat. (I  know, I know...) This is the view of Shaw Towers. You can't see it, but there is a sign that says Shaw Leisure Gallery: The Art of Life. Wish we'd had time to see our dear friends at JDMIS, Asia's  center  for jewelry making classes and certification. misoriceball tour 013_edited Artof life shaw tower monks Next stop Tanglin Mall! The person we met at Brown Rice Paradice was not in the mood for a riceball experience but did seem happy to take the info we provided. Coincidentally, we ran into Chris, jewelry designer and maker of musical beats. We met in Tiong Bahru  in Tiong Bahru a few years ago and, unfortunately, have not yet had a chance to sit down and relax with cold beverages made of fermented wheat and hops and stuff like that... misoriceball tour 019_edited Chris SUPERNATURE! misoriceball tour 023_edited SuperNature shopper At Great World, we stopped by Four Seasons... misoriceball tour 034_edited four seasons organic marketSomewhere near Robertson Quay: documentation of the pamphlet from Mom Natura and the chirashii from Tawaraya misoriceball tour 037_edited Chirashii mom and tawaraya Could not resist! misoriceball tour 041_edited book cafe But, our ultimate destination on Mohamed Sultan was : The Organic Grocer. misoriceball tour 049_edited curated misoriceball tour 048_edited no time to waste Then, we dashed off to catch a glimpse of the Annie Liebovitz show before it closed. I'd worked for her for a month on a series of shoots in Tokyo a while ago and, even though I knew it was a naive idea, thought she might still be in town and I could just say hi. She was gone, of course, but the man in charge was extremely helpful.. and the recipient of one of the day's last iron fire miso furikake riceball masterpieces! Finally, a haiku by Dave Tai... Riceball haiku by Dave Tai

April 23, 2016: Compung (a new word) and Iron Fire Riceball Artwork

Today at the Kampung GUI Eighth Anniversary Event, I debuted a new word and a new artwork. The new word is 'compung' and the new artwork was an edible social sculpture: Iron Fire Miso Riceballs. Compung sounds like, and references, kampung, the Malay language word for village or community. However, the first three letters, c o m, reference computers. 'Compung' is a new word that may have a meaning similar to 'tribes' (as in the 'digital tribes' associated with social media), but with more "real life" interaction. The first conversation of what 'compung' might be like was with Brian Lee Xin Yang, at about 10:30 AM. A Compung Facebook page has been set up. Compung documentation (T-shirt)Created with  "unaesthetic" fonts and layouts, the information suggests incompleteness; the excitement of an initial sketch. The first line is likely the influence of my life  in Ubud. The second line is meant to be-- and look like-- the words which form the message; COMPUNG Art Seed Breaking. The next two lines are self-explanatory, and the last line is a kind of shorthand. The use of "mi" suggests music. There are some T-shirts still available. Do let me know if you'd like one. A collaboration with Mom from Mom's Natura Farms in Bali, the Iron Fire Riceballs were well received. There were discussions about fermentaion, miso's medical properties(including its anti-radiation properties) and the benefits of salt. The iron fire rice balls were an unexpected extension of my Furikake book. A blog post/short story about Mom, Tokyo, Bali and Furikake is here. iron fire riceballs and red thumbkway Lim Lam Hong Confectionery: thank you for always taking the time to make the kways perfect artworks that are delicious!. Thank you to Tawaraya for supplying us with such delicious Hokkaido Nanatsuboshi rice! fire iron miso riceball      

Inari, Bali and Snow

  • The Author Show audio  interview with Stephen Black on the Furikake book.
  • On Saturday, April 23, Stephen Black will be reading and presenting the thumb kway artworks and a new artwork entitle Miso Furikake Riceballs. Details here.
  • On April 22, this will be added to the book entitled Furikake.
  • This is the final version of Inari, Bali and Snow, replacing other versions of this story that were posted on this blog.

February 21, 2016

Man, this miso stuff is serious!

Mom and I'd been talking about food as social art. Edible, nutritious art. Public sculptures of popcorn and haikus made of glutinous rice. We discussed the pigmentation of palm sugar, sesame seeds, coconut oil and pink Himalayan salt. Mom explained how roasting changes miso's color and texture. I introduced Mom to the artworks of Ferran Adria and el Bulli. I explained how and why I made kways shaped like my thumbprint. I learned that, in Japanese, “tekka” is written with two kanjis and means “iron fire”. And, in Kyushu, 'tekka' means someone with a strong, focused and energetic personality. Like Mom, who just told me that miso has anti-radiation properties and was used as medicine at Hiroshima. Man, this miso stuff is serious...

Mom has a healthy glow. Her eyes are bright and full of depth. Calm with wisdom, yet the signs of overwork show through. Mom is one of those people who are truly aware that we are all in the same tiny boat on the vast River of Time, sometimes going with the flow, sometimes lost without a paddle.

Bamboo Spirit is a center of social energy; a tie-dyed campus at the top of the Penestanan Steps. A Hindu place, a Russian place, a Japanese place...a  quietly glorious Balinese place. Next to a stream, the house-like, open structure is old and made of wood and stone.. From the second floor and the small strange cozy space on the third, one can see rice fields and the hills of Ubud. People celebrate food here. Mom sells her products here on Sundays.

Alex introduced us. Barefoot and standing on the hard ground, we were soon discussing fermentation, the laphet I brought from Myanmar and the tekka miso from her farm. Above us, a canopy of yellow cloth warmed and softened the light, giving everyone and everything a golden shadow. I gave Mom laphet and she gave me mimosa tea. I told Mom I would visit her farm as soon as I could. The farm is in Mas, just outside of Ubud, which is on the island of Bali in the country of Indonesia. In Spanish, 'mas' means 'more'.

Furikake stars:

Faint, bittersweet sands of time

swirling clouds; rice ball.

I Am a Muddy Path With No Banana Leaves

I drove to Mas in darkness.

Mom welcomed me: "Six o'clock. You are on time. Like the Japanese." She gave me her husband's boots. My first task was to water "our plants". That was on Level 1. Later in the morning, Rachel watered Level 2 and Liisa looked for okra on Level 3. There's a teepee on the edge of Level 4. Mom was everywhere. Lined up at the windows of their classroom, the children from the school yelled "Hello" and "Good morning", their cute voices and uncontrolled enthusiasm strong enough to cross the big field between us. Later, we heard them singing Balinese songs. I used a sickle on the plants surrounding the wild peanuts and discovered okra blossoms. As she walked in, as though she were laughing, Alex asked me how I was doing.

Breakfast, then, in Mom's bamboo house. Papaya,okra salad and rice balls, everything full of flavor. Rachel mentioned something she'd read about how the visual appearance of food influences t digestion. Another topic: the ideal state of mind for those people who prepare food. Manny talked about food, air, water and McDonald's and we all discussed furikake, laphet and mimosa tea. I wore the green shirt my mom bought for me, now faded and with a hole between my left shoulder and my heart. During the four hours I was at Mom's, I was in the center of a beautifully slow and flowing sequence of events, thoughts and exchanges. I drank no coffee. 🙂

But my muddy path task is what made the strongest impression upon me. The farm has a network of paths and the recent rain had made some sections very slippery. Mom told me to make mats from the old leaves and stalks from the banana plants. If I did that, traction and safety would be improved. You don't want someone falling with a large, sharp cutting instrument in their hands... I didn't need a plan; in such a cosmic place, everything would be naturally perfect. But, my thinking was wrong.

I should have gained information about: a) the number of banana leaves available, b) the number of trouble spots, c) the "danger rating" of trouble spots, d) "danger ratings" vs. frequency of use, e) location and f) time available to complete the task.

I should have improved the most dangerous high-traffic sections first, starting with the steps between levels. Then, I should have used my limited amount of banana tree resources to prevent new trouble spots from developing. With whatever time was left, I should have put at least one leaf on all of the remaining areas, which would have warned others of danger.

But as it is, many parts of the paths on the farm are still very slippery and one small area in Level 1 is very safe.

Gold furikake

being sprinkled on blue snow,

Hanazono dawn

During my first winter in Asia, my home was a little tatami room in Yotsuya. There, on the morning of January 28, 1985, I awoke well before dawn, bundled up and set out to wander through a snowstorm that, with a continuing, powerful grandeur, had shut down Tokyo. I was hungry; had nothing but coins in my pocket and a camera loaded with black and white film. The glass door made the rolling, shaky noise it always did when it was opened. I stepped out. Immediately my nose and lungs were stung by cold air. I trudged through a maze of snowdrifts until I reached Shinjuku-dori. Then west, past the Sun Music Building that the singer had thrown herself off of. Then Yasukuni-dori, with the thought of going right and visiting Yasukuni Shrine. I’d sat in Yasukuni's cafeteria once, with a veteran from World War II who said I looked like Gary Cooper. We drank green tea beneath a Mitsubishi Zero attached to the ceiling

But no, I wandered left, towards Shinjuku san-chome, where I stood beneath a traffic light and watched its colored lights tint the swirling snow. Eventually, Mitsukoshi and the other department stores, each big enough to occupy an entire block. Further west, across from the station, the gaudy lights, billboards and neon of Kabukicho had become soft pastels. On small side streets, I passed darkened yakitori-yas, convenience stores and round red akachochins topped with snow and ice. The quiet. The cold. The feeling of being immensely alone. And lost. Lost, lost, lost. Delightfully so.

Flower garden. A French friend and I went drinking near here one night and he told me that the Chinese characters carved in the monument now before me mean Flower Garden. Hanazono Jinja. Hundreds of years ago, the Hanazono family built this shrine dedicated to Inari, the androgynous god of fertility and worldly success. Inari, the god of the arts.

I walk forward, between two dull grey buildings. At the end of the passage, a torii; waiting like a strange goal post, or a letter from an alien alphabet. Tubular, wooden and orange, the torii is a relic from a ceremony of whispers. The people of Tokyo are warm in their beds and sleeping; I am in the cold and dreaming.

The stone basin for washing one’s hands and rinsing one’s mouth; the ice within it is now covered by a lace made of wire mesh and snow. The ema, the small, thin wood plaques covered with neatly written hopes and wishes, are bunched in rows, nooses connecting them to the display stand. The temple grounds are barely lit and surrounded by modernity. And then!

The clouds part and—for an instant– the sun rushes in like a spotlight. Against the dark blue snowy sky, golden light strikes the temple’s black tortoise shell roof, the white frost on the pine trees, and the stone foxes standing guard. The fresh vermillion paint for Oshogatsu, the corridor of red toriis, the simplistic arabesques of gold trim, the precise and clean concrete stairs; the sun is behind me, throwing itself forward everywhere. The gigantic shrine vibrates like a massive, noble flame of Japanese architecture. The vividness of details, the vividness of the whole… Then–just a glimpse– the full moon. Asahi!

I stood alone in that quiet heaven of color until the threat of the freezing cold could be ignored no longer. My feet and hands were paralyzed and one leg was becoming numb.

I vaguely recognized the steps at the back of the shrine, thought they’d be a shortcut to the Dunkin Donuts on Shinjuku-dori. At the top of the stairs, however, I saw that I was overlooking the two-story wooden shacks and alleys of Golden Gai. Somewhere in there was Shunchan’s. Like a wounded cowboy I limped down the stairs into that little white Japanese ghost town. Golden Gai: one of those places that teen aged Western boys imagine they will one day find themselves in. Prostitution, gambling, rendezvous spots, cheap drinking places, yakitori shops, bars specializing in all kinds of music; all connected by very narrow walkways lit by red paper lanterns and old cheap plastic Suntory signs. I was sure Shunchan wouldn’t be there. I was wrong.

Irrrashai!” He said it not with the loud bellowing mechanical style of most shop owners, but as though he were quietly sharing an inside joke. It was 7AM, in a frozen and snowbound Tokyo, but Shunchan smiled at me like it was late on a crowded Friday night after payday. Both serene and slightly nervous, Shunchan is the perfect host. He carefully stabbed the chunk of ice in his hand with a pick while I thought about my order.

Was Shunchan a great friend of mine? No–but he was an anchor, a touchstone.I was a regular; he and his little bar provided a sense of normality in a city full of extremes of all kinds. Always an interesting crowd, packed in around Shunchan and his bar. Whether they were Japanese, Russian or Australian, Shunchan made the hostesses feel relaxed. He treated the English teachers and backpackers like locals. Celebrities, artists and musicians brought in great mixtapes, his drinks weren’t that expensive and Shunchan laughed a lot. He was good friends with the young woman in the bright orange dress.

I sat where I always did, under the old, big posters of bent-over Japanese girls in bikinis on beaches holding mugs full of beer. Even when Shunchan’s was half-full, you had to stand behind the people seated at the bar and couldn’t help but sometimes touch them. Shunchan put down the ice pick and adjusted the kerosene heater at his feet. My hands treasured my glass of hot water and whiskey as my frozen pants started melting.

Then, like the sudden appearance of a deer in a forest, a naked and attractive young Japanese woman tiptoed down the stairs. With her finger, she moved her hair behind her ear. She politely smiled at me, then leaned forward and watched Shunchan make her tea. I immediately became fascinated with the smoke-stained chirashis promoting last year's offerings of underground movies, independent music, butoh and avante-garde theatre. She was a pixie, flush with the color and smell of sex. She was steamy. She went back upstairs. Shunchan said nothing, I said nothing. A moment later, a young naked Japanese man came down, got a drink and went back up. Then another. Shunchan, smiled at me and began to look for his ice pick. My unforgettable morning was, for him, just another day at work.

So... Tokyo, for quite a few years, New York for a year, then The Handover in Hong Kong, then Tokyo for the millennium, then the excitement of crashing the dot-com boom party. Singapore then, to create Second Life, but before Second Life; and to lay the foundation for something like Youtube, but before Youtube. My indefinably star-like daughter, all the while shining... Scholarly friends, friends who needed a bath like me, friends who drove around in new cars and threw cigarette butts out the window. Supernova relationships with boundless vigor. Roommates with holes in their socks and roommates who blessed me with hearty breakfasts and made me feel like family. Roommates who cheated me. A three-legged cat and driving away from a lover's home in Paris; the sun rising and the taxi driver playing a ney all the way from the Port of Clouds to Orly. Medicinal mushrooms. The Bioneers, just after 9/11. Sitting in a Clementi coffeeshop, a cheap mobile phone to my ear as I learned how they took a long blood vessel from his leg and put it in his chest to repair his heart. Chemo and radiation treatments. I'm working another shift on Mom's farm and thinking of all of these things, especially the chemo and radiation. I'm planting black beans and watching the sunrise. Chemo and radiation, chemo and radiation.

The clumps of clay and the big mud stains on my blue jeans give me a Sense of Accomplishment. Komang, myself and the WWOOF volunteers, are having another wonderful meal in the bamboo house. We sip amazake and Sayuri listens to us tell stories. Mom and I discover that we'd been neighbors. We'd very likely waited for trains at Higashi-Nakano station at the same time. There, we could have stood together, maybe almost touching, as we looked inside the ninja school across from the station. We'd both definitely eaten in the Mongolian tent behind the KFC, and both of us remembered the books the owner had made: one about a circus and one about his autistic daughter. Sitting on the tatami at Mom's, I remembered the life I had lived thirty years before; all of the chaotic, energetic activities with chaotic, energetic people. Mom and Shunchan had been great friends. She'd shared a bed with him--in a nonsexual way-- and once pretended to be his fiancee so Shunchan's mother would stop yelling at him to get married. I'd heard bits and pieces of these stories. Maybe Mom had sat next to me at Shunchan's and I'd thought of very lustful things.

Earlier, when I was working in Level 3, Komang gave me okra pods that were like striped, brittle antelope horns. Three seeds in a hole. I planted as carefully as I could but then the light was fading and I sped up. Not good to leave something undone. Komang may have seen me rushing, maybe not. He came over and helped. "We always plant with love," is all he said.

It should be obvious that I consider furikake to be a magnificent concept. A plain riceball is a canvas; furikake makes it an artwork. A composition of furikake, created by culture, geography, science and chance-- is placed into the mouth. The brutal critics—the glands, teeth and tongue, decide if the work is something to be savored or spit out like poison.

During many of the days described in this story I wore ragged boxer shorts, shreds of white Japanese cotton shreds patterned with torn, red goldfish. The soft rags that covered my loins were more painful than a hairshirt. The gentle white cotton bit me harder than any cilice. Those boxer shorts were bought for me on the morning of the day we watched the harvest moon rise over the Pacific Ocean. That magical day was one of many moments we shared in that little coastal village that had the best seafood and the richest sake. Silently, we often observed the changing seasons while soaking in the hot spring of our ryokan, located just a couple of train stops from Fukushima.