As the deadline for the 2017 WiK Writing Competition approaches (March 1), we’re posting some of the best ‘also ran’ entries from the 2016 competition in the hope that they may stimulate others into creativity….

Richard Newton – 2016

Bainiku John and Supa Dupa

Bainiku John’s wife died when she ventured too close to the edge of a rocky outcropping that jutted out over the Sea of Japan. A high wave consumed her. Bainiku John watched her confused face through his camera’s eyepiece. They were vacationing and happy before the ocean took Yoriko. Back then, Bainiku John was an Osaka salaryman, but he lost his mind with grief. After Yoriko’s funeral Bainiku John quit his job and spent several months alone, rarely venturing out of his and Yoriko’s house in Hirakata-shi, half way between Osaka and Kyoto, near the Keihan Line’s Hirakata Station. Bainiku John eventually steeled himself, sold the house, move to an apartment in Kyoto, and took a job as a taxi driver.

Winding his taxi through Kyoto, serving others, doesn’t diminish his grief, but it rounds off the sharp edges. When he joined the taxi company, Bainiku John attended several Welcome to the Company parties at local izakaya. He allowed himself to smile and drink with new, kind comrades. A couple times he asked the cook for extra bainiku, pickled plum sauce, to enjoy with his yakitori. One of his bosses teased him, saying, “Bainiku John!” The nickname stuck. He’s exceedingly polite to his taxi passengers.

Supa Dupa was homeless until the raw, rainy, January day Bainiku John sideswiped him when Supa Dupa, crossed Kawabata Street against the signal. Skidding to a halt, Bainiku John, bolted from his car and cradled Supa Dupa in his arms. Supa Dupa laughed. He was one of Kyoto’s homeless and his side hurt. But he was alive and the rain felt good on his face and a kind man sought to comfort him. That day Bainiku John took Supa Dupa in. They’re now good friends and look after each other.

Rommel Chrisden Rollan Samarit

In the village (a haiku)

Wooden statues pray

Leaves are roving in wind’s ways

An answered prayer

Kimberly ROSE

The first 18 reasons to love Kyoto….

To hear the two-tone whistle of the tofu salesman’s car as he approaches my house,

the jingles of the oil truck and the Kyoto Coop delivery van,

the beeps and chirps at the pedestrian crossings as they change,

the unique tunes played at every train and subway station.

To see the uniformed school children with their oversized satchels riding the trains in packs or all alone,

the ladies in the cleaners so proud of me now that I can understand the price as I count out my yen,

the man who vacuums the corridor in the subway station,

the street food at a matsuri,

the greeters at the morning opening of Daimaru,

the yasai hawkers who pause their chant as they recognize me, smiling to greet me, with an “ah, konichiwa”,

the girls at the combini,

hanabi and yukata in the summer,

the woman who sells me chirimen jacko and takes such pride as she tries to put the exact amount I ask for on the scale with her first measure,

her surprise and delight when I later present her with a jar of my husband’s homemade sansho chirimen.

To feel the peace and quiet that is always found in a temple or shrine even though it may be in the middle of the city,

the joy of seeing a hurried salaryman stop for a moment to take a photo of a sakura blossom,

the delight when I hand my gohakyu yen and a small wrapped chocolate to the tofu man and as I do I give him a wink and say “service desu.”