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