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centered in japan

The one thing that was striking to me about Japan was the stark contrast between its vibrancy and tranquility. Somewhere between the crowded subways and the hidden gardens in parks and temples, a balance is struck. I’m sure it’s not a surprise to anyone who has ever visited Japan to acknowledge its remarkable sense of cleanliness and order. That same sentiment resonates throughout Japanese culture, a certain kind of beautiful obsession. I wasn’t sure if it was the newness of the city or I was just in awe in the presence of something marvelous. I was more attentive than usual…

we meet at last

Twelve hours in the air seemed like an eternity. My flight to Japan was otherwise enjoyable with a mix of turbulence. This is my first time in Japan. I had no idea what to expect other than the fact that I love Japanese food, at least from what I’ve had here in the U.S. I arrived in Narita International Airport early afternoon on a weekday. A Japanese woman greeted me at the gate with my name written neatly in black marker. She had a warm smile and exceptionally polite. Going through customs and immigrations seemed like checking into a hotel….

plumeria, a different life in the city

If you ever walk by a plumeria tree, you probably won’t forget the fragrance that fills the air. I secretly searched for them on my travels in the south of Vietnam only to find a handful living in odd places. People no longer have plumeria trees in their yards. I guess they don’t have a need for them anymore. I asked a friend of mine to which she promptly explained. People are slowly cutting them down due to their lack of monetary potentials. I still didn’t really get it. The one my grandparents had never brought them any money, but…

solitude: memories of the river

Stepping onto the boat to cross the Cửu Long river, I could not stop the overcoming feeling of solitude. The scent of this river was all too familiar to my nostalgic senses, even after all these years. The inhabitants of this river, generations after generations, remained the livelihood of this part of the Mekong Delta. I have always been a visitor here, though as a child, I have bathed and swam in its branches reaching far into the outskirts of town. As far as my eyes could see, through the haziness of the tropical sun, a few small clusters of water…

the rain is here

Coming back from another run to the neighboring city, we met the rain at the entrance to town. At first just a few scattered specks, and before I knew it, my sunglasses were shrouded. In shorts and a T-shirt sitting in the back of my nephew’s motorbike, I was dusted in the softest raindrops. Every hair on my exposed skin stood up to welcome them. Out of the corner of my eyes, I can see the gray clouds hovering over every corner of the afternoon sky. I knew it was going to be a good one. Fortunately for us, my…