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Break Glass In Case Of Poetry


Wandering the grounds at Hikone Castle, I came across this curious little box on a post. It had cards, it had a writing shelf, it had a slot for depositing the cards after one had used the writing shelf. I couldn’t read the kanji on the front. What was it? A suggestion box? Why would they put a suggestion box in the middle of Hikone Castle?

“Hi, I think the castle would look more cheery if you painted it a nice buttercup yellow”?

“Why aren’t there any ninjas? You should have ninjas.”?

“It would be a big improvement if you sold hot dogs.”

I snapped a picture and studied it later. It actually says:


Throw down a poem? No way! But guess what? That’s what Japanese tourists did before there were cameras! They’d journey to a famous destination and dash off a poem to capture the moment instead of clicking a forty-six megapixel snapshot. And amazingly enough, haiku clubs STILL pen their way around Japan chewing their pencils and jotting down their impressions of famous waterfalls, temples, whirlpools, you-name-it. I actually encountered a group like that at a temple café the next day, all sitting around a table with their green tea and sweets, taking turns reading their poems out loud!

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

A young woman dressed as a Gothic Lolita is found dead in a car with two strangers. But the more Yumi Hata learns about her friend’s death, the more she’s convinced it was murder…read more

Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

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