Daisen G-Beer Festival


Erupting from the rolling hills of Tottori prefecture, Mt. Daisen (大山) dominates the already impressive landscape. Sometimes referred to as Hoki-no-fuji (伯耆富士), the Fuji of the Hoki region, the monolithic volcano has made its mark on the surrounding culture for as long as people have inhabited the Japanese archipelago. In the earliest Shinto creation myths, the mountain was revered as both the home of Kagu-tsuchi (god of fire) and as a god in its own right: capturing hearts and minds throughout Japan. During all seasons, the peak is tackled by hundreds of climbers. They come for many reasons: to check off another hyakumeizan (the 100 famous peaks of Japan), to pray at Daisen Temple, to photograph local birds and scenery, or to watch the mountainside ablaze in annual fire festivals. But once a year in early June, both Japanese and foreigners descend (ascend?) upon the mountain to consume prodigious amounts of craft beer at the Daisen G-Beer Festival (地ビール祭り大山).

Being an avid connoisseur of both Japanese mountains and beer, I feared Kagu-tsuchi might smite me if I were not in attendance last year. And so it was, I found myself next to my closest climbing comrade, drunk on convenience store wine, riding a late night bus from Kyoto station to “Daisen Parking” bus stop. The plan was to roll into the festival campsite around midnight, pitch our tent and sleep for two hours, then bomb up the slope for a glorious sunrise to begin our weekend booze-fest. Apart from absurdly high, late-night taxi rates and a near-fatal encounter with oncoming traffic, everything went better than expected; we were fast asleep beneath tent and stars before the new day—the wind singing a lullaby through the trees. Continue reading “Daisen G-Beer Festival”


Publishing Announcement!

Check out my story, A Black Morning, published on Sunlit’s website. Be sure to leave a comment!

Mt. Apprehension

A somber fear grows deep down
That, ere I near the mountain crown,
Silent tears will slip off eyelash cliffs
And tumble down the deep abyss,
As flames lick and lame my knee
Forcing me to falter and flee
To hours of painful descent in defeat,
Beaten by gravity, compelled to retreat.
Gritting my teeth, head bowed in shame,
Drooped with the burden of bearing the blame. Continue reading “Mt. Apprehension”

Mountain Fever Dreams

Lanky four-legged beasts,
Macabre silhouettes in the morning light,
Cast shadows into the icy valley below,
Prolonging the slumber, if only for a second,
Of the yet-snoozing in their colorful caves.

The creatures slowly creep skyward,
Laboriously climbing to the rocky ridge,
Taking long strides with gaunt forelegs
No thicker than sticks and just as straight.
It seems the giraffe of Broadway gave up the spotlight
To graze the vertical savanna of Japan’s mountains.
Packing our gear, we head out on safari. Continue reading “Mountain Fever Dreams”


Goodbyes are fickle,
Too long or not long enough,
But this is my stop.

Typhoon 7

Why don’t you come back?
The day is not yet dawning,
The sun has yet to start shining,
And as far as I’m concerned,
There’s no evidence it ever will.
So why not come back to bed?

Why don’t you come back?
Dark grey clouds still cover the sky
Which has been sobbing since yesterday,
And shows no sign of stopping soon.
Mother Nature is under the weather,
So why not call in sick today? Continue reading “Typhoon 7”


I watch my shadow from noon to dusk,
Ever growing in size and lust,
Making me taller than a redwood tree
And stretching the limit of what I can be.

Until the fading sun falls all the way down
And I am beyond the starry lights of town.
In darkness, lost and one with the nothingness
I am left to mourn my colossal, black hubris.

I kick a stone as I walk home alone,
Struggling to forget the hope I was shown,
And accept that I am an ego confined by flesh,
A spirit trapped, and a man depressed. Continue reading “Shadows”

At the Kohikan

Classical renditions of pop-hits on piano
Softly waft through coffee-steeped air.
White cream falls, smooth as silk
Diving into a black and bitter pool
without sound, like a gold medalist.

From the Brazilian, brown depths,
Pale phantom specters eerily rise,
Like harbinger missiles in long silence,
And burst into mushroom clouds
Unable to break through the surface tension.
Their storms swirl like those raging on Jupiter—
Or how I imagine the dark typhoon
Looming just off the western coast
Must look to an astronaut on high.

But if that man on the moon
Is looking over the brim of his coffee,
I envy his distant perspective
So far removed from Earthly fear and anxiety.
And I hope that between the two of us,
One might enjoy his cup in peace. Continue reading “At the Kohikan”

The Tree

In the park there stands an old oak.
I know not how aged it is,
But it was here before I was
And it will remain long after I do not.

Every morning I pass by its thick trunk,
The oak waves its branches, goodbye.
And every night I drunkenly stumble home,
It’s standing still, in silent judgment.

Even when I dash past and miss its farewell
In the rush to catch the last possible train
To $9.50 an hour misery with no future,
I know the stoic oak is standing there,
Gayly laughing at my fleeting and meaningless struggles.

And when I’m huddled under warm blankets,
Unable to face the depressingly cold world
In the dead of winter, the oak stands erect
Defiantly declaring, “I am not yet through!”

Then the warm spring comes,
And buds of green shine as proof
That the would be murderer, winter,
Has yet again failed to slay the old oak.

And in full bloom and life it sways,
Dancing about in the soft spring breeze
As young birds grow strong upon its branches
And cicadas scream from the side of its trunk
Like terrified climbers clinging to a rock face.

Then the summer rains come,
And the oppressively hot air grows thick and humid
And weighs heavy, making the leaves droop
And bringing insects in search of respite
To the cool shade and water of the oak.
Thus in the prime of green and luscious life,
The tree is battered, bitten, and beaten
Down to a skeleton of brown bark bones.

And when the final days of autumn warmth
Declare the insects’ feast over,
Cool wind sheds the emaciated old oak of its last leaf,
And leaves it bare to face the cold again.

And barely clinging to life, it stands,
Through the long, depressingly cold winter, silently shouting with fiery fury,
“You have failed yet again, oh ageless Master!”
And I realize winter, whom I mistakenly accused,
Was only a seasonal disguise of the enemy
With whom all mortals must battle.

And while the oak’s cyclical struggle
Might differ from my own in length,
He stands, like I, waging absurd war,
Desperately clinging to an unseen hope
Until the very last joint of his little finger
Shrieks in agony and is about to give way,
Only to survive and do it again another day.

I look at the old oak and see myself,
Battered, bitten, and defeated,
And feel a looming fear beyond the knowable horizon.
What if the cool respite of winter
Does not come soon enough this year?”

Thank you for reading. Comments and criticisms are more than welcome!

Read more at Rafiki’s Nikki.

Wednesday Night

Don’t think about it, she reminded herself for the hundredth time.

It was a Wednesday night. She was tired. Staring across the intersection, mesmerized by the pulsing yellow light of her turn signal reflecting off the slick, black tar, she had almost gone down the rabbit hole again. The light turned green, but she did not move. In Zen meditation she hadn’t even noticed. She was utterly consumed by the yellow blinking light.
Tick. Tock.
On. Off.
Tick. Tock.

She watched and listened from inside her silent car, feeling as though the turn signal was echoing her steadily beating and indifferent heart. As she sat, the yellow light seemed to grow brighter, the ticking became louder, and time seemed to stretch. Each breath between the beats felt like an eternity building pressure in her head. Her eyes became strained and dry from not blinking in centuries, and her ears began to ring like a shrieking violin. Suddenly, a trumpet sounded and two bright lights flashed in her rear-view mirror. Snapping back to reality, she urged the car forward and turned onto the highway entrance ramp.

Continue reading “Wednesday Night”

Business Trip

The full moon rises,
Glistening like a fresh silver dollar
As Mother Earth lets off steam
And unbuttons her stifling collar
To feel the breeze of the Sun’s departure.

Eagerly I wait at the window
For my moon to come home,
So I can feel the breeze of his sigh
As he sits on his leathery black throne
And watches me with contentment from on high. Continue reading “Business Trip”