Monday, June 29, 2009

Quiet Hill

Shizuoka means quiet hill (shizu = quiet and oka = hill) but it was a steep hill to climb every day to the humanities building of the university perched on a hillside. (Unlike Gaby Stanton, I didn't own a car.) None of the U. S. colleges I've taught at have had comparable views. Here, from the top down, is a view of Mt. Fuji from a field higher up the hill from the campus, a view of the Japan Alps to the north from the "lightning" steps halfway to the top, and the view of the Pacific Ocean to the south from my office on the 4th floor.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Japan has five seasons and June is the rainy season, bringing flash floods, damp laundry, mold, and delicious tender warabi mochi (rolled in crushed peanuts). I don't know why warabi mochi is seasonal, but you can only get it in tsuyu.

Here is a haiku I wrote to honor the rainy season in New Hampshire, too.

Damp bath towels sulk.

The big fan churns, exhausted.

Warm rain slaps green plums.

c. Sara Backer 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tigers and pens

I still use this traditional hard-carved and lacquered bamboo pen holder I bought in Japan. It's shown here in my Shizuoka apartment next to a wood tiger from Indonesia. That tiger sat beside me on both sides of the Pacific Ocean while I wrote AMERICAN FUJI.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Blog

The upcoming reissue of AMERICAN FUJI called for a new blog. (If you miss the former blog, drop me an e-mail; it's not dead, yet.) I transferred a couple of posts from the old blog, but from now on the content will be new. I'm going to start scanning all those photos from my three years in Japan to show what it's like for an American to live in Shizuoka City. If you have photos or stories from your travels or expatriate adventures, please share them. I'd also love to hear from teachers who have used AMERICAN FUJI as a text.