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Published… WTF?? June 7, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Language, Other Arts.
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Thanks to Sacramento writer buddy Josh Fernandez, the haikus I wrote in Okinawa got published in a poetry journal!

WTF is a free quarterly zine produced by Rattlesnake Press and the Poetry Unplugged poets from Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento. It features “X-rated” works from local writers and artists.

I hoped mine would be printed in English and Japanese, to give them some kind of context. They only printed translations (I swear, I know how to count syllables), but it’s still an honor to get published.

You can pick up a copy at The Book Collector or order it online here.


The Tonaki Song June 1, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Language, Music.
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One night on Tonaki Island, we went out to this seawall with Sigrunn, new friends Kinjo and Saya, the pink guitar, the recorder, two bottles of awamori and some panda chocolates. Here was the result:

This song utilizes some traditional elements of Okinawan folk and pop music:
1) Hogen phrases (akisamiyo = oh my god, deji = very)
2) Musical battle cry “iia za za!” (a vocable = lyrics with no lexical meaning)
3) Finger whistling (yubi bue)
4) Lyrics about a drunken creeper (a.k.a. Yamada Denki)
5) Power derived from distilled liquor (and chocolates)

Now to wax poetic. (more…)

Tonaki Foods March 16, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Food and Drink.
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We had some of the best traditional Okinawan food on Tonaki Island:

Clockwise from top left: Okinawa turmeric tea, vegetable tempura, papaya and glass noodle salad, peach, cabbage, apple slice peeled to look like a rabbit, pork, roasted pumpkin, ton of o-gohan, pickled salad thing.

The cutest banana I’ve ever seen.

Soy sauce-marinated raw tuna (the kind they make Bonito Flakes from), pickled veggie, Okinawa soba with fatty pork slabs, asa seaweed (we watched people scrape this off rocks on the beach), green onions and fishcakes, o-gohan.

Island Farming March 16, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in History, Photos.
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Okinawa and Tonaki are covered with these fukugi trees, by no accident. Their foliage is so dense that Okinawans have been planting them around their homes for centuries as protection from subtropical typhoons. Their bark is also used to make yellow dye for traditional bingata cloth.

As part of our free stay on Tonaki Island, our tour group helped clear out a plot of land to plant more fukugis. Jojo found his calling as the master weed-puller.

These little saplings will grow up to protect the adjacent farmland (if we weeded well enough), so the villagers threw a party for us that night as thanks.

I feel like we got a good sense of traditional Okinawa life here, up to our elbows in sand and roots, baking in the sun, and loving it.

Beach Hunting March 15, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in Photos.
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We did a lot of scavenging on Tonaki Island:

Sigrunn’s mass of seashells

Jojo scouring for hamaguri (small clams)

My own pottery collection,
although most of this seems to have washed over from China

And best of all, this kame skeleton!