Sam in Japan

The one thing I didn’t like about being in Japan was that I missed my old friends. Then I discovered one living in Tokyo.

This giant monster looming over Tokyo Tower is Maman, by Louise Bourgeois. I’d last seen Maman at a wonderful exhibition of Bourgeois’ work at London’s Tate Modern on the day of the launch of my second published book, Tim, Defender of the Earth. Here’s that entry on the Tim News Page, and here’s a pic I took of her attacking St Paul’s Cathedral.

As you might be able to guess, Louise Bourgeois’ viscerally sinister oeuvre was a massive influence on Crawlers, which I’d just begun writing at the time. So with the Crawlers News Page soon to come to an end and the My Name Is O one about to begin, the timing of my second meeting with Maman was eerily perfect.

I wasn’t totally convinced by her current setting in Roppongi. Surrounded by trees and skyscrapers and Christmas trappings I felt that Maman didn’t look quite as imposing as she should.

…But the angles were there if you looked for them.

If you’re reading this on the Crawlers News Page then the time has come: as happened with my previous News Pages for Tim and Black Tat, we’re now at a fork in the road. Though this site and page will remain live for as long as possible, future posts will appear elsewhere. If you’d like to keep following what I’m up to, the next place you can do that is the My Name Is O News Page. Hit the link and take a look.

Thanks for following me this far. On with the sinister masterplan!


Big in Japan:

(A bathroom doorway, Kyoto, seriously)

This weekend I’m going home to London. It’s going to be lovely. But I hope I don’t get too used to not having to dip my head for doorways while I’m there, because I’m already looking forward to coming back. ;D

This month marks the launch of my novella for Barrington Stoke, My Name Is O. I’m coming home to London for party to celebrate. More news on that soon.

Meanwhile, my new book is coming along nicely. In fact things here in Tokyo are going better than my partner Laura and I had dared to hope – so we’ve decided to stay longer. After the launch of My Name Is O we’re coming back to Japan until summer 2012 at least.

Here above, with some grinning fool standing in front of it, is The Great Buddha of Kamakura.

I miss home and friends and family, of course. But, well, I’m in Japan, with the person I love most, writing the most awesome book that I can possibly think of.

I’m having one of the best bits of my life so far. I feel very lucky and very grateful.


Just posted to TBM: The Hounds of Feet.

One of the most surprising things I’ve enjoyed in Tokyo is Flamenco.

The scene here is small but dedicated: I first came across it in a bar in Golden Gai, Shinjuku then last week I saw the performance in these pics, which was every bit as passionate and spectacular as anything I’ve seen or heard in Spain.

It was part of an amazing evening of music and dance taking place on two floors of an art gallery in Shibuya, organized by Megalo Theatre. As well as the flamenco there was traditional (and some decidedly non-traditional-!) Japanese music played on shamisen and tsuzumi, a ritual swordfight accompanied by a biwa-playing storyteller, and all kinds of other good stuff. The climax of the evening was a Mizu-Nagashi

…a New Year ceremony for which everyone anonymously wrote down a mistake they’d made during the past year, or something else they wanted to forget. The pieces of paper with the mistakes on were read out before being smacked with sticks and then consigned to water.

My mistake was ‘I ate all the okonomiyaki.’ But it’s ok, I’ve forgotten all about that now. ;D

New balls – I mean posts – at Trapped by Monsters: The Tanuki who Spooked Me and On Being Inappropriate.

Here (below) are some carrots. The Japanese word for them is ‘NINJIN’.

Here (below) is one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen in my life – the awesomely raucous Ken South Rock – playing, last night, a song the title of which is the Japanese word for people: ‘NINGEN’.

Here (below) is the best paragraph I read in 2011. It comes from Hokkaido Highway Blues, by Will Ferguson, a wonderful book about travelling in Japan. Describing what a challenge similar-sounding words in Japanese can be, the author provides an important message to keep in mind as we plunge on into 2012.

‘Another combination that gives me trouble is “human” (ningen) and “carrot” (ninjin) which once caused a lot of puzzled looks during a speech I gave in Tokyo on the merits of internationalization, when I passionately declared that “I am a carrot. You are a carrot. We are all carrots. As long as we always remember our common carrotness, we will be fine.”

Happy New Year 😀


This, in case you didn’t know, is Shibuya Crossing. Watching it as the lights change is hypnotic. 😀

Whether it’s Christmas you’re celebrating, or (like the Japanese) New Year is the big thing for you, or what, here’s wishing A Very Happy, er, Thing! to all readers.

*waves from Tokyo*


Reactions to my presence here have varied. There’s been warmth and friendliness, as from this chap at The Edo-Tokyo Museum

mild curiosity, as from these guys…

…and, of course, the occasional stare.

The only time I’ve felt a bad vibe here was from this bloke:

But that was probably just because he’s heard how much takoyaki I’ve been eating. 😀

Meguro Parasitological Museum is awesome.

See the brown, um, detailing on this t-shirt? It’s part of the design. This t-shirt celebrates the pride of the museum’s collection – an eight metre long tapeworm.

As anyone who’s read Crawlers will probably have guessed I’m fascinated by parasites: I knew I was going to visit this museum as soon as I heard about it. But here in Tokyo I hear Meguro Parasitological Museum is also considered a great place for a romantic date.

I love Japan.

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