Tag Archives: Yokohama

#atozchallenge X is for Xenophilia

by Lillian Csernica on April 27, 2019


Welcome to one of the more unusual days in the A to Z Blog Challenge. X is a tricky letter.

My apologies for this post going up a bit later than the others. My in-laws from back east have been visiting and I got a bit behind.



I have a confession to make: I am a Xenophile. This will come as no surprise to folks who have read this far in my A to Z. I love foreign people, places, and things.


When did this start? I was in first grade. A family from Japan moved into the apartment across the big grassy yard from where I lived. Hiro Takahashi joined my class. Getting to know him, his sisters, and his parents gave me my first glimpse into a whole new world.



From age 16 to 18, I worked as a professional Turkish-Moroccan belly dancer. My teacher, a marvelous lady from Saragossa, Spain, taught me so much about her part of the world. I still have the coin belt made for me by a Turkish man. 144 diamond-shaped silver coins, all stamped with the Venus di Milo.

As my high school graduation gift, my father sent me to the Netherlands. I spent the summer with the family of the girl who had been my Physics lab partner on a student exchange program. While I was there I took a weekend bus tour to Paris, France. I am now all the more grateful for that trip, given that it allowed me to see Our Lady of Notre Dame cathedral in its full glory.



My fiction has been translated into German and Italian. (Ship of Dreams became In the Spell of the Pirate.) I’m looking for someone to translate a novella into Japanese. If you know anybody, drop me a line, won’t you?

And of course I’ve had some adventures in Yokohama and Kyoto.



Why am I so attracted to the Other? People fascinate me. How they think, what they think, and why they think it. Just the single concept of life after death has given rise to so many different schools of thought. The pursuit of happiness involves such a broad spectrum of effort depending on how one defines happiness.

Writing allows me to take apart some aspect of life and put the pieces back together in a new way. Am I trying to make some sense of what I’ve experienced? Probably. Am I trying to bring order to a chaos that leaves me frightened and bewildered? Probably. It’s not all one-for-one, of course. By the time I get to the final edit of a story, the pieces of me I’ve used undergo quite a process of transformation.




Filed under #atozchallenge, Blog challenges, cats, Conventions, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, historical fiction, history, Japan, Kyoto, memoirs, perspective, pirates, publication, research, romance, Writing

C is for Crossing the Pacific

by Lillian Csernica on April 4, 2016


Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz, CA

I have now crossed the Pacific Ocean a total of four times.  The first time, I was on my way to Nippon 2007 in Yokohama, Japan.  The second time, I was making a literary pilgrimage to Kiyomizudera in Kyoto, Japan.  In the course of these four flights, I learned a lot about preparation, comfort, and protection.


Chewing Gum — If you’re like me, you want your ears to pop during take off.  Chewing gum helps balance out the pressure in the Eustachian tubes and keeps you from having a sharp pain in the side of the head until the plane begins to descend.  Be sure to chew a fresh piece or two on descent as well.

Ear Plugs — If you plan to sleep, ear plugs are a good idea.  Try a few different brands out ahead of time so you know which one suits your ears the best.  (Click here to see my favorites.)  The materials ear plugs are made of do vary, so the amount of noise they filter out also varies.

Neck pillowHere are some important points to consider when choosing the right neck pillow for you.

Ear buds — Bring your own.  Airline ear buds tend to be lower quality and won’t fit your ears as well as those you’ve bought for yourself.

Snacks — Nippon Airways does a good job of keeping passengers supplied with food and drink at regular intervals during the flight.  Your mileage may vary, so be sure to keep some TSA-approved goodies in your carry-on bag.


Book your flight well ahead of time so you have the luxury of choosing your seat assignment.  I recommend the aisle seat because that gives you the most breathing room.  Also, in the event that your seatmates are unpleasant, you can make a quick getaway when you’ve hit your limit.  We’re talking ten to twelve hours in the air.  That is a very long time to be stuck in what amounts to a small, narrow room.


Hand sanitizer — A lot of people pass through planes in the course of a working day.  I recommend using this even after washing your hands in the restroom.  You just can’t be too careful these days.

Face mask — There’s no thrill like being stuck in an airplane next to or even nearby somebody who keeps coughing and/or sneezing.  In Asia it’s considered courteous to wear a face mask when you’re sick.  When you’re on a plane breathing recirculated air, Heaven only knows what bugs might be lurking in the air system.  Have no fear, fashionistas!  These face masks allow you to accessorize with style!

Zinc supplements — People have told me taking these ahead of time bolsters the immune system.  I haven’t take them myself, but now that I’ve done the research for this blog post, it sounds like a good idea.

Benadryl or whatever works for you — Please consult your doctor before taking any medications, especially those that may have side effects.  Some people are afraid to fly and rely on Benadryl’s sedative effect.  Again, I don’t use it, but many people I know have done so with good effects.  Ask your doctor.

Bon voyage!



Filed under Blog challenges, Conventions, doctors, Food, history, Japan, Kyoto, Lillian Csernica, research, travel, worry, Writing

K is for Keepsake

By Lillian Csernica on April 12, 2013


My family teases me because they think I have too many keepsakes. I suppose I do. Beach glass and seashells and a beaded lizard keyring and a little bean bag dragon called a “shishimai.” I have a pot holder from Santa Fe given to me by my Japanese teacher and some odd little toys from a friend in Germany. I even have a jade Kwan Yin pendant from a friend in Hong Kong.

I am sentimental. I have been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things, but best of all I have met a lot of people. When I went to the 2007 World Science Fiction Convention held in Yokohama, Japan, I took a blank journal with me. I had people sign it, leaving their email addresses and greetings and little reminders of the moments we shared. It was the best way I could think of to capture more than just the faces of the people I met on the vacation of a lifetime.

While I treasure that book and the photo album that goes with it, I think the most precious of my keepsakes is a little inkwell made of blue glass in the shape of a one room schoolhouse. The chimney is where the quill dips into the ink. A nice man named John ran a comic book shop in Santa Cruz. He agreed to host my very first book signing when I was promoting The Year’s Best Horror XX. Friends and family and my husband’s co-workers came, along with UCSC students and curious locals. We had a great time. At the end of the evening, John presented me with the blue glass inkwell. I have never seen the like before or since. It remains a singular treasure.

Most writers don’t make a lot of money. Self-promotion is hard, tiring work. Every now and then somebody comes along who appreciates what you’re doing and how hard you’re trying. Sometimes that appreciation takes tangible form in what becomes a keepsake.

I want to hear from you folks. Do you have any keepsakes related to your writing? Any trinkets or treasures that inspire you?


Filed under Blog challenges, Family, Fiction, Humor, Writing