The Japan Files: How Exploring Japan Influenced My Writing

I spent my birthday, the last week of March, and the first week of April gallivanting across a foreign land, meeting new people and plunging myself face first into eating food with chopsticks, wearing a mask when sick, and the grandeur of traditional Japanese culture that permeated even the most modern district.

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With food this cute, how could I resist?

Since I have finally uploaded all of my pictures from this epic trip, I am going to spend the next few Saturdays exploring how visiting Japan has influenced my writing. I made the decision before taking that almost-too-long-to-bear flight from Hawaii to Osaka to draw from Japanese environments and cityscapes as inspiration for one of my major settings. My story opens in a rainforest like setting but will incorporate mountainous, oceanside towns and temple grounds throughout.

Now I’m worried I might need to go to the Amazon rainforest before SAAFire is finished. That’s how eye-opening being in the place of inspiration was. I could smell it, taste it, feel the openness of the spaces that correspond to what I want to include in my story.

The temple experiences were the most important to me in an obvious way, but being in a culture whose media I have consumed for years was an exercise in both the familiar and the foreign. The Japanese get up, eat breakfast, go to work, and live their lives just like everyone else but little details differ from how I do it or how many Americans live their lives. Little details bring life to the cultures I create in my stories but often I forget to include them.

It’s interesting to me that these little details have been the highlight of my trip considering the setting is one of my greatest writing weaknesses (my descriptions are sparse like weeds in a sandy desert plain). So to be reminded of how tiny differences define cultures in ways that can so easily be written into a story.

So this is the intro to that series. There’s a lot to unpack and I’m really looking forward to digging in. Until next week, here’s my favorite picture from the trip, a nice shot of Himeji castle framed by sakura flowers.

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Author: V. Kane

I write YA fantasy, blog about it, and then take my dog out for therapy. My current manuscript is ANATHEMA, a story of two sisters caught up in a war between the gods. Find me on Twitter at @ValkyrieWriting or Instagram at books_and_dogs

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