So I watched this woman in the coffee shop where I go to write and knew she was doing exactly what I do with the New York Times puzzle: cheat.

She picked up her iPhone now and then and began to fill in letters. I walked up to her and said,”Excuse me but you’re not allowed to cheat.”

Whew, thank goodness she had a sense of humor. She burst into laughter and said she has just started doing crossword puzzles and needs a lot of help. She wondered why she’s able to do some puzzles so easily and others, not. I explained that these puzzles increase in difficulty beginning on Monday and by Saturday, she’ll need her iPhone. And no, she doesn’t even touch the NY Times puzzle but works on the local one.

I thought of a time when I sat next to a gentleman on the plane. He worked on the New York Times puzzle and my glances told me he was a crossword puzzler. He filled in every letter and left it in the pocket of the seat in front of him. Finally, I leaned over and said, “You’re pretty smart. I can never finish the New York Times puzzle.”

He leaned over and whispered, “ I wanted to impress you so I just filled in letters. It worked.”

On another flight, a few seats away sat a young blond boy, about 10 years old, working on the crossword puzzle in the flight magazine. He turned around to look at me and asked, “Do you know the other name for Tokyo?”

I said, “Edo. E –d-o.”

He smiled and said thank you. Whew, it was a good thing this Japanese knew Edo. The Emperor was pleased.



To President Obama in Hiroshima and candidates promising a better world…this is

from the children :


Voice from the Unborn

You promised me, eons ago,

A world, free of battlefields, soldiers, children

Abandoned  in fear and hunger.

You offered me Hope, again and again.

A world, you said, where we will stand

Hand in hand, beyond  color, religion, gender, age,

One race. One humanity.


You promised me a world

Free of poison in oceans, earth and air.

“You  are the future”, you told me,

“Come and be born in this world I will

Create  for  you.”


My brothers and sisters who believed you

Are now old men and women, and they wait.

They wait.


Listen to my voice, your unborn child.


Eons ago, you sliced the chrysanthemum

Off  its stalk and left it

Naked in the sun.


Over the ashes of Hiroshima,

Our victory was hailed.

Beneath that, my ancestors lay buried.


Stop using me, your unborn child

For promises and meaningless  rhetoric.

The future is now.  I can’t wait any longer.

The future is now.  I want to be  born.


©Frances  Kakugawa


Norma Loudenslayer of Citrus Heights, CA posted this letter to the editor in the Sacramento Bee.

And I quote:

“Japan owes America the apology, not the other way around.”

“I vividly remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Thomas Lea Owsley from my hometown…went down on the USS Arizona.”

“I  commend President Harry Truman for having the guts to end what Japan started.”

I also commend FDR for the internment camps for the Americans with Japanese heritage.”

“It is easy for survivors of the bomb to cast blame, but those who would consider that America apologize are not looking at the full picture….”

This is why even the Japanese Americans lost their lives in war, to help preserve our Democracy so we can all express our views, conflicting or otherwise. And here are mine:

Under the rising sun,

The enemy came,

Wearing my face.
from my Kapoho: Memoirs of a Modern Pompeii

After Pearl Harbor, we too  lost something, we  lost our identity along with our dignity and honor. My ancestors, too, are buried, buried  in Hiroshima.

Masahiro Sasaki, survivor and brother of Sadako of the thousand cranes story, in his addresses before UN and in America faced a child who asked him, “Mr. Sasaki, which country dropped the atomic bomb?’

Mr. Sasaki answered, “ It’s been more than sixty years since the  bombs were dropped… So, I forgot who dropped the bomb.”

The adults looked puzzled but the child understood his response . Looking at  the boy, he said, “Children! Teach your parents!”

The survivors asked not to be called victims. As Mr. Sasaki explained, “To say ‘victim’ requires a victimizer, and the victimizer is led to blame; and that starts the cycle of blame. For example,if we say ‘victim of Hiroshima,’ the next sentence that comes up will involve Pearl Harbor and the blaming chain gets stuck all the way in the past. Then we are completely derailed from the lesson that war itself is humanity’s Pandora, and that nuclear weapons are something that came out of Pandora’s Box.”

(The above quotations are lifted  from To Hell and Back: The Last Train from Hiroshima by Charles Pellegrino)

How long do we wait to get ourselves unstuck from blame and political discourse  before we’re able to  use our knowledge and experiences to create a nuclear free world of peace?  We don’t need any apology or blame  to help create this world.We owe this to our children.




Thank you, Wayne Harada, for your generous support of my work. I know Wordsworth and I don’t dance and sing so it’s an honor to appear in your Show Biz Column.wayne's column

In the Sacramento Bee yesterday, a letter to the editor states that President Obama must not  bow when he visits Hiroshima this month, that a bow means an apology and U.S. must never apologize.


I did a good deed today. I went to my “cave” at the bakery to do some writing when I saw a body  lying on the sidewalk right outside my window. I looked to see if he was breathing. His eyes were closed, his zipper open, and his breathing seemed very shallow. His clothes were not clean and there was a backpack nearby.

I saw a man in business clothes stop, take a photo and  use his phone and he stood there. I assumed he had called 911.  No one came. So I called 911 and told them there is a man lying next to the bakery and he’s hardly breathing. I made a point not to use the word “homeless.”  I was asked a lot of questions..on age…gender…etc. I went out and told the man  I had called 911. He said he had called but there’s no response. I told him I didn’t mention he was homeless because they may not respond quickly if we say homeless. He looked at me as though I made sense.

Finally the ambulance and police came. One officer pulled something out of the homeless man’s pocket and it looked like a plastic knife. He tossed it off the sidewalk. They took another item from his pocket and tossed it out. It looked like a CD.  They stood above him and kept asking him to get up. I saw his confused and fearful look when he opened his eyes and saw all the uniformed people around him. They asked him in a very loud voice,  ” Are you on drugs? Do you have mental problems? What kind of drugs do you take? ” When he didn’t answer, one scolded him with “If you don’t answer, we can’t help you.”

I purposely stayed near-by with the man who had also called 911. I believe we both had similar thoughts about how he was being treated.  The 911 men and women looked at us and asked who we were. I said we had called 911. I stayed until they took him into the ambulance.

All right, the questions seemed legitimate although if I had mental problems, would I  be able to say I am mentally ill?  The voice tones used were pretty harsh. Would they have used that tone if I were on the sidewalk instead of that homeless man? When human problems become just a routine job in a day’s work, is this what happens?

Three things in human life are important:

The first is to be kind;

The second is to be kind;

and the third is to be kind.

Henry James

kapoho line

book signing kapoho

This is a quote from a statement made yesterday by someone:

“The Japanese do not talk about earthquakes, volcanoes, etc….”

So here I am at the Volcano National Park, signing my book: Kapoho:

Memoir of a Modern Pompeii. I begin my stories with Pearl Harbor and end with the lava

destroying my home village, Kapoho.

Below, I’m holding Charles Pellegrino’s book: To Hell and Back: The Last Train from Hiroshima at Barnes and Noble. The voices of  the survivors of Hiroshima echo out of the pages. And yes, we are all Japanese, btw.

b&n 1






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