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They Will Build Castles (pt. 1): the Making of a “Man”

This is the first of a two-part series I’ve been struggling to write for a while.  For those who know me, I’ve jumped between highly restrictive diets and workout regimens for the past few years interspersed with periodic bouts of alcoholic binges.  Truth is, I was hurting.  I was suffering from low self-esteem and violent thoughts that seemingly arose from nowhere.

Three types of Chikara Mochi paired with a cup of tea
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Japan the Untranslatable Pt. 4 – Isshōkenmei

Kotoya-san and I met near the tail end of winter in an old tea house by Lake Ashi under awkward circumstances.  She stood on one end of a wooden platform raised a foot from the ground, cleaning supplies in one hand, face mask hiding her expression.  On the other side, separated by an unlit fire place with a worn kettle and a ring of rocks, were four Australians girls alternating between trying to explain to Kotoya-san in increasingly louder, slower, and broken English that me taking their picture would take far less time than for them to first remove their shoes as they were being asked to.