25 December 2009

Leave it up to Fate: Chapter Twenty-one

New to The Japayuki Chronicles?
Start with Chapter 1!

Ana sat in the van in silence as her companions discussed the concert they were attending. Takashi informed them that the event was usually held at Tokyo Dome, but they managed to snag a slot at the Budokan so they changed venues this year. Tessa and Jon were noisily perusing the list of performers, while Kaye and Takashi launched into a discussion of the Japanese entertainment industry.

When the got to the Budokan, Takashi helped them out of the van and led them into the hall, “Your other guests are already here,” he told her.

Ana nodded, thinking of Nakano and Tanaka and how excited they must be.

Takashi continued, “As you know, Ken will join you after the program because he has to take care of hosting duties,” when Ana nodded, he gestured to a row of seats in front, “Most of the companions of the performers are seated with the VIPs in the first few rows, but Ken thought you’d be more comfortable with your friends,” he said, indicating a few rows behind the VIP seats.

“Arigato,” Ana smiled her appreciation. She looked around, most of the seats of the Budokan were already filled and there was an excited buzz going through the air.

Built in 1964, the Nippon Budokan is an arena in central Tokyo that was originally built as a venue for the Tokyo Olympics. Although this arena had been built with Japanese martial arts in mind, it has since served as a stage for a host of performers ranging from the Beatles to Beyonce. In fact, for most foreigners in Tokyo, the Budokan is synonymous with large-scale rock concerts.

The stage was positioned to one side of the vast arena. It was large, semi-circular and had several catwalks projecting from it. The longest one was down the center aisle and helped define the VIP areas. Several rows of seats were positioned in front of it. The stage itself was a maze of stairs and platforms that went up, down, and nowhere. The area behind the stage, which Ana assumed led to the dressing rooms, was completely covered in black canvas. From the flat, middle area, seats surrounded the stage in two tiers.

As they approached, Nakano and Tanaka jumped up from their seats to greet them. Ken had also graciously invited them to the party afterwards so they were dressed up nicely. As Takashi excused himself, Ana introduced her friends to her lab assistants.

“Ana-san, I think you’re supposed to sit over here,” Tanaka said indicating a chair nearest the aisle.

Nakano nodded, “Yes, your friend wanted to sit there, but an usher told her that the seat was for you.”

Ana looked at Nakano, puzzled, “What friend are you…”

“Hey guys, what took you so long? We were here ages ago.”

Ana had hardly finished her question when the unmistakable sing-songy voice made the hairs at the back of Kaye’s neck rise. The four of them turned in unison. Sure enough, Marga was walking down the aisle towards them. Jon, Tessa, and Kaye gaped at her.

“Marga!” Tessa managed to gasp out, “What are you doing here?”

“I was invited,” Marga told them as she air kissed them in turn.

“Invited by who?” Kaye couldn’t help asking.

Marga laughed, “Why, Ken of course,” oblivious to their astounded countenances, she continued, “When I had a class with him last week I mentioned that Tessa told me about the event tonight.”

Kaye and Jon looked at Tessa accusingly as Marga went on, “And of course, I knew it was only an oversight on his part not to have given me a ticket since sempai Ana and I are such good friends. So he sent me a ticket and here I am.”

She turned to beam at them, “Isn’t this great, we’re all here together!”

Ana almost giggled as she saw the expressions on her friends’ faces. Tessa managed a weak smile and Kaye and Jon both grimaced. There was a mad scramble for seats as both Jon and Kaye were loath to be seated near Marga. Finally, Tessa ended up seating next to Marga and Ana. Jon and Kaye sat at the end of the row, skillfully using Nakano and Tanaka as a buffer.

“This is so much fun sempai,” Marga chortled as she sat in the seat next to Ana, “I’m so amazed at how orderly everything is,” she turned to Tessa, “It’s so different from Manila, no? Whenever we watch concerts there, everything is so unruly. We usually get prime tickets, but people in the bleachers are so annoying. They always try to get into our section, you know?”

Tessa nodded abstractedly as she scanned the audience, “Oh look, isn’t that the guy from the drama they show on Thursday nights?” she asked Nakano.

Nakano’s answer was drowned out by Marga’s voice, “Oh but here, its great that we got prime seats! This is where all the stars are,” she said as she primped her hairdo.

Ana glanced over at Kaye and Jon and saw them roll their eyes in unison. Ana almost burst out laughing; she wondered how long those two would last in Marga’s company. She started in surprise as an usher tapped her on her shoulder. “Hai? Nan desu ka?” she asked.

“Ano, Ana-san desu ne?” the usher asked, verifying Ana’s identity.

When Ana answered in the affirmative, the usher handed her a backstage pass and told her that he had been asked to accompany her there. Bemused, Ana told her friends where she was going, then stood up and followed the usher.

He led her through a series of cordoned-off areas and through a maze of makeshift hallways before they came upon a door, which had a card with Ken’s name printed on it. The usher then took his leave and Ana thanked him. A warm feeling flooded her senses as she realized Ken had not entirely forgotten about her.

“Ken?” Ana called as she stepped into the room. She heard a rustle from behind the screen at the far end of the room. She smiled in expectation and was shocked when a woman stepped out from behind.

She was fully made up, her short black hair was perfectly teased, and her generous décolletage, visible from the open vee of the short robe she was wearing, was amply dusted with gold dust. She looked Ana over and asked insolently who she was, “Dare?”

“Gomenasai,” Ana apologized, “I thought this was Ken Nakamura’s dressing room…”

“So it is,” Ai shot back, “who are you and what are you doing here?” Ai raised a brow and crossed her arms. She knew perfectly well who this woman was; she had been the one who had sent for her after all. Under her heavy lashes, Ai inspected the gaijin. She wasn’t bad looking, she was pretty in a wholesome kind of way, but she certainly wasn’t of Ai’s caliber in any case.

Ana visibly tried to control her mounting anger, who was this woman and what the hell was she doing in Ken’s dressing room? And how dare Ken call her in here when he was obviously entertaining someone else!

Ai almost smiled when she saw that the gaijin was getting worked up, “Dressing rooms are off-limits to fans you know,” she said as she sat down on one of the chairs, “Security deals harshly with stalkers these days.”

“I’m a friend of Ken’s,” Ana managed to say, “He actually asked me to come here.”

“Ah sou?” Ai asked disbelievingly, “Ken never mentioned anything about us having any visitors.”

Us. Us?!

Ana suddenly saw red. Was this Ken’s way of telling her he wanted out of their agreement? Was this woman the girl whom he had been seeing this past week? How dare he treat her this way!

“Would you like to take a seat while you wait for him?” Ai invited, smiling as she turned to check the contents of the mini fridge, “I think we have some tea in here…”

“No thank you,” Ana managed to say, “I have to go now,” and she marched out the door to Ai’s satisfaction.

Goodbye gaijin, she thought.


For what seemed like ages, Ana walked aimlessly down a series of clinical white corridors, before she finally stopped to lean against a wall. Takashi had told her that Ken would start to see people soon, but this was all too abrupt for her. Perhaps this wake-up call was best, Ana thought.


Ana looked up and goggled at Yoshi who was walking towards her. He was outfitted in an amazing red and white tux made of some shiny material. He even had a ginormous feathered corsage affixed to one shoulder.

He smiled as he reached her, “Wakatta, wakatta, I know it's a bit too much, but it looks good onstage,” he said defensively as he held his hands up. As Ana grinned, he sighed, “The only consolation is that I’m not the only one wearing this costume,” he said, gesturing to the group behind him.

Ana gaped at the assemblage. It was all a bit hard to take in—five grown men in shiny, sequined red and black tuxes strutting as if their getup was normal.

“Oi Yoshi, who’s your friend?” A tall curly-haired man asked.

“Ah sou ka,” Yoshi said as he turned to Ana, “You’ve never met Freeway, have you?”

Ana shook her head. She belatedly realized that Yoshi was one of the members of Freeway, one of the famous all-male singing groups that were very popular in Japan.

Yoshi smiled as he turned to his friends, “Ne minna, this is Ana,” he said. Ana bowed slightly, and Yoshi proceeded to introduce his mates. There was Tachi, Tatsu Akigawa, a tall blonde who was the leader of the group; Maki Sakamichi, who had shoulder-length hair and carefully sculpted brows; Youichi Semakawa, who, with a boyish grin told Ana to call him You-chan; and Hide, Hideaki Matsuyama, who sported a perm and had his shirt open to reveal lightly oiled pectorals.

“Ah sou, you’re the mysterious gaijin who has captured Ken-chan’s heart,” Tachi said with a smile.

“We’ve been asking Yoshi to introduce us to you, but he’s been a bit reluctant to do so,” Hide said as he stepped closer to Ana, “Now we know why.”

“Hide,” Yoshi cautioned, “Don’t scare Ana off.”

“Hide can come on pretty strong, but he’s harmless,” You-chan informed Ana, “He’s only dangerous when he’s had a couple of beers.”

Ana smiled at him, “Wow, that’s comforting.”

“Consider that a warning,” Maki told her, “Hide turns into a kissing monster when he’s drunk.”

Taki sighed, “He’ll kiss anyone.”

“Even us,” You-chan confided and Ana burst out laughing.


Ken walked back to his dressing room in frustration, a note clutched in his hand. “Meet me at the rehearsal room on the second floor,” the note said, “We have something important to discuss.” The note had been signed in Ana’s name. And so he had went and waited for almost an hour for her. He worriedly thought that perhaps she had been held up somewhere. He had been unable to reach her on her phone, but Takashi had assured him that he had delivered Ana and her friends safely to their seats.

He was rounding a corner when he heard her laughing. She stood leaning against a wall, laughing with Yoshi and his band mates. So this is what held her up, Ken thought. So this is why he had been waiting for her in vain for the better part of an hour.

“Ah, Ken-chan has come to pick his princess up,” You-chan quipped as he spied Ken at the end of the corridor.

Ana stiffened and turned to look; sure enough, Ken was approaching them and he didn’t look happy.

“Ne Ken,” Tachi said, “We’ve been getting to know Ana-san.”

“So I see,” Ken said icily, pinning Ana with his stare. She stared back defiantly at him. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but Ana and I have something to discuss.”

“C’mon guys, back to the dressing room, we have to practice that last move,” Yoshi said, recognizing the note of steel in Ken’s voice. He gave Ana an apologetic grin and herded his band mates away.

“It was nice meeting you Ana,” Maki said as they walked away.

“You’ll be at the party later, won’t you?” Hide asked Ana. At her nod of assent, he smiled and gave a jaunty wave, “See you there!”

Ken waited until the last of the men had rounded the corner, then he turned to Ana, “You seem to forget yourself,” he said, grasping her arm and dragging her towards his dressing room.

“Ken?” Ana quickened her pace to match his, “What do you mean?”

“We have an agreement,” he reminded her as he thrust her into his rooms, “and until we conclude that agreement, you have to restrain yourself from running into another man’s arms.”

Ana wrenched her arm away, “Nani? What are you talking about?!” she asked incredulously.

“Obviously, being with me has given you a taste for fame,” Ken said derisively turning to face her, “Isn’t Dan enough for you anymore? Do you need to add other stars to your collection?”

The slap was like a crack of thunder in the silence.

Ken raised his hand to his stinging cheek and glanced at Ana. She looked back furiously, “How dare you?” she spat, “How dare you when you’ve been carrying on with someone else under my nose.”

Ken glanced at her in confusion.

“Oh yes, I know about her,” Ana went on, “I know about the girl you’ve been spending time with for the past few weeks.”

“What girl?”

“Short hair, humongous breasts, and legs up to her armpits?” Ana she saw recognition dawn on Ken’s face, and her heart sank, “So you do know her?”

Ken nodded, “Ana,” he started, his voice softer than it had been, “It’s not what you think…”

“It’s not what I think?! Then what? Are you saying you haven’t been spending these past few weeks in her company?”

“I…I may have but…”

“But what?”

Ken remained silent.

“So it’s alright for you to take up with strange women, but for me to talk to someone is a crime?”

“Don’t talk to me like that, its not as if…”

Ana looked at him directly, “Yes, its not as if we’re really in a relationship,” she said before walking out the door.

Go to Chapter 22!

Thank you for reading!


Happy Merry!

Hi guys! Thanks for dropping by and reading my inanities ;-) I hope you'll continue to drop by in the coming year.

Enjoy the holidays!


22 December 2009

Leave it up to Fate: Chapter Twenty

New to the Japayuki Chronicles?

Start with Chapter 1!

Jon’s orderly flat resembled a nuclear disaster area. Curling irons and hair dryers were scattered across the marble counter of the bathroom. His living room resembled a garage sale. His sofa was piled high with discarded clothing. Wispy pieces of lace and powder were littered on the carpet. The air was thick with the scent of perfume. Even his kitchen bore remnants of the Chinese food they had consumed earlier.

As Ana gazed at her reflection in Jon’s full-length mirror, she could hear her three friends squabbling as they fought for counter space in Jon’s bathroom. They were all getting ready for the fundraiser at the Budokan. The vehicle that Ken had sent would be arriving in a few minutes to pick them up. Although Ana said that it wasn’t necessary, Ken had insisted on it. Kaye, Tessa, and Jon were only too happy to indulge in the luxury of being chauffeured around Tokyo.

Ana smoothed her hands over the dress that she had especially selected to wear for tonight. She was wearing one of Lynne’s gifts, a layered chiffon shift in shades of blue and green. Ombre, her sister in law had called the subtle blending of shades. It had a beautifully embellished neckline and fell to asymmetrical folds to her knees. Kaye had been surprised when Ana informed her that the dress was from her sister-in-law instead of from Ken. Over the past few years, Lynne and her mom had taken to buying her designer clothes when they put in an order for themselves. So every time Ana had gone home for a holiday, she came back to Japan laden with carrier bags containing designer clothes that she never had an occasion to wear—until now, that is. Her tastes must be changing, Ana thought when she inspected the dresses last week, looking for something suitable to wear. A few months ago, she would have wrinkled her nose at such luxury, but now she reveled in it. A whole wardrobe at the back of her closet and she never even knew about it.

She donned the diamond studs that had been her grandmother’s and critically inspected her attire. Not bad. She idly wondered if Ken would approve.

It was almost two weeks since they had last seen each other. In the past week Ken had barely contacted her. She wondered if something was the matter when Yoshi, whom she bumped into a few days ago, told her that Ken had come back to Tokyo during the past weekend. At Ana’s visible surprise, he quickly backtracked and made the excuse that they had been busy with rehearsals the whole Sunday and afterwards Ken shuttled back to Shizuoka to resume taping. Yoshi went on a bit on how packed schedules were in the summer season, and that people made the most of the weather by shooting dramas for the fall and winter season.

Ana was a bit hurt at not having heard from him. She thought Yoshi might have noticed, since he seemed to want to cover up for Ken. She broke down the next day and gave in to the urge to send Ken a message, asking how he was. He answered in kind the following day, it was mostly about the event tonight. Although he had given her details and told her he had asked Takashi to arrange for transportation, his message had seemed cold and distant. When she apologized for bothering him, he called later in the day. He had sounded tired and apologetic, and Ana tried to tell herself not to read too much into a text message. But their conversation had been strained and Ana sensed he had been glad to end it when a staff member called him back to the set.

In spite of that, Ana was unexpectedly eager to see him again tonight. One part of her brain was sending out warning signals that she was getting too used to having him around, yet she was unable to tamp down the thrill of seeing him again.

The noise in the bathroom escalated when the doorbell at the foyer rang. Ana spied Takashi through the security monitor, and surveying the chaos around her, she told him that they would be down in a bit. Her friends were putting the finishing touches to their outfits, so she told them she’d go ahead.

“Konbanwa,” Ana smiled as she bowed and bade Takashi a good evening.

He returned her greeting with a low bow, “Ana-san, thank you for coming tonight,” he said, “This is truly a big help to Ken’s career.”

Ana shook her head, “Please don’t worry about it,” she assured him. Funny how going out with Ken hadn’t seemed like such a chore lately. Ana frowned as she pondered this, in the past few weeks, Ken had transformed her normally placid life into a whirlwind. Things were never boring when he was around. All her life, Ana had thought life was made up of a series of interrelated formulas and rules that one had to abide by. Ken however, constantly encouraged her to think out of the box. The constant bickering and teasing that comprised their relationship was in turns explosive and funny.

He taught her to laugh at her mistakes and not to take herself so seriously the whole time. He listened attentively to her when she talked about her day and pampered her each time that they were together. He occasionally gave her small gifts, a bouquet of flowers, a box of doughnuts, and tons of studio freebies. She knew she was close to thinking like one of his witless fans, but he certainly knew how to make her feel like a woman. She looked forward to one of his slow smiles when he saw her approach and the way that he rolled his eyes whenever she talked about Dan. In the short span of a few months, she managed to feel closer to him than she was to her own brothers. But the way she sometimes thought of Ken was far from brotherly.

As time passed, it was getting more and more difficult to remind herself that this was all just make-believe. A small illogical part of her brain pondered the possibility of actually making a go of the relationship, but her more practical side quashed it down. It was impossible. It was totally out of the question. She and Ken could never be together for real.

She knew she was spending more time with him than she ought, but she couldn’t seem to help herself. It was just for another few months, she kept telling herself. Another few months, she thought sadly. And then the fairy tale would be all over.


Takashi was in high spirits. The ploy they had used had paid off and Ken was now more popular than ever. The public avidly followed the developments in Ana and Ken’s relationship. This resulted in an increase in interviews, invitations to appear in shows, and offers of product endorsements. To an agent, this news was akin to manna from heaven.

He glanced at Ana and glimpsed a flicker of sadness cross her face. She must be thinking of Sato, Takashi thought. It must be hard for her, to be separated from the one she really liked. Takashi was fully aware of the arrangement between Ana and Ken and he fully approved of it. It was much more simple to keep things between them business-like. Takashi had even met Sato once when Ken had asked him to pick up Ana a couple of weeks ago. It was easy to see that the ha-fu had become interested in Ana. Going by what Ken had told him of the arrangement, he figured that Ana was probably anxious to get together with Sato. Fearing that she might be thinking of leaving them high and dry, Takashi sought to reassure her.

“Gomen ne, Ana-san. I know that this arrangement has been difficult for you,” he told her, “but please don’t worry. As soon as Ken finds someone new, we can break this off right away.”

Ana felt a cold wave envelop her as she stared at Takashi. Oblivious to her sudden pallor, he continued, “As a matter of fact I even introduced him to the new idols of our sister agency a few weeks ago. They seemed to get along pretty well. In fact, I heard that he and Yoshi spent an evening in Shinjuku with them last weekend. Who knows, he may have found the one,” Takashi chuckled at his last statement.

Before Ana could react to that however, Takashi peered around her, “Here come your friends, shall we go? Traffic can be unpredictable,” he said, as he turned to exit the lobby.

Go to Chapter 21!

04 October 2009

Leave it up to Fate: Chapter Nineteen

New to The Japayuki Chronicles?

Start with the Overview orChapter 1

“Ja, what happened?” Yoshi asked as he sauntered into Ken’s living room. He took off his jacket, tossed it on top of the sofa, and then looked around for the remote.

“What do you mean?” Ken asked as he locked the door and tossed his keys on the dish that lay on top of the shoe cabinet. He went into the kitchen and fetched two bottles of beer from the fridge. When he came back to the living room, Yoshi had already commandeered the couch and was flipping through channels at the speed of light. Without taking his eyes from the screen, Yoshi blindly reached one hand out for the beer.

Ken almost smiled as he handed him the bottle. He watched as his friend gulped down half the bottle and belched. At times, Yoshi felt more at home at his apartment than he did. He sat down on the adjacent armchair and took a fortifying sip. Although Yoshi kept his own private apartments in Shibuya, he often hung about Ken’s place in Minato a lot. When Ken asked him why he didn’t get an apartment nearby, Yoshi said that he liked living where the action was and that Minato was for yuppies. Privately, Ken thought that Shibuya was the perfect place for his friend who was out on the streets more often than he was in his own house.

That was probably why Ken had been surprised when barely an hour ago, at a little before ten, Yoshi had rounded up the party and called it an early night, reminding everybody that they had relatively early call times for the concert rehearsal the next day. Yoshi and the girls were performing, and Ken was hosting one of the segments.

Reiko and Nana were actually sweet girls, if a bit shallow, and although they pouted a bit, they went without much fuss. Ai however had trouble retracting her claws and keeping up her angelic façade. The look she gave Yoshi as she left would have killed a lesser man. However, Yoshi had stood firm and packed them all into taxis. As soon as the girls had left however, he hopped into Ken’s car and tagged along to his apartment.

Although he hadn’t said so, Ken was glad to be free of Ai. A few more hours in her company and he would have started screaming. The sight of her red-talons caressing his arm almost sent shivers up his spine.

Lost in his thoughts, Ken was slightly surprised when Yoshi suddenly leaned over and stared fixedly at him. “Ne, it’s about Ana isn’t it? You haven’t seen her in a week and you’re having withdrawal symptoms. You should have gone to see her tonight…”

“I did.”

“So she was busy. It happens,” Yoshi tried to console his friend as he went back to surfing channels.

Ken shook his head and paused to take another swig of his beer. He grimaced as the bitter brew went down. “My evening schedule cleared up so I went over to the institute to surprise her for dinner. And what do you know, she was already eating at the cafeteria with her preppy boss.”

“Eeeee?! Maji de?!” Yoshi almost dropped the remote in surprise.

Oblivious, Ken continued, “Deshou? I know, right? We had a deal, an agreement, and now she’s screwing around on me,” he looked for confirmation in Yoshi’s shocked face.

“Jitsu wa, I was surprised about the fact that you went to surprise her,” Yoshi clarified, shaking his head, “You’re not exactly an impulsive person by nature.”

Ken grunted in response. Yoshi surveyed his friend; Ken was hunched over his seat, staring moodily at his drink. Yoshi bit back a smile; he knew exactly what was happening. He knew Ken wouldn’t appreciate the humor of the situation, but he couldn’t help himself, “They were just having dinner Ken,” Yoshi said, trying to placate his friend, “Nothing to be jealous about.”

“I’m not jealous!”

“Hai, hai,” Yoshi agreed in the tone that mothers used to humor little children with.

Ken raked his hair from his forehead, “It’s just that we haven’t seen each other at all this week, she’s been away and I’ve been busy. Then when I get a break in my schedule to see her, she’s making goo-goo eyes at another guy.”

“Whereas you would have wanted her to wait placidly and make goo-goo eyes at you when you happened to throw snippets of attention her way?” Yoshi asked, tongue-in-cheek. Deciding to stoke the fire, he lowered his voice, “It’s not as if she’s really your girlfriend you know … or is that what’s bothering you?”

Ken glared at him, “What the hell do you mean?”

Yoshi held his hands up to placate Ken, “Ma ne, I think I’ve gotten too used to version 2.0 these past few weeks,” Yoshi said as he surfed channels.

“Version 2.0?”

Yoshi nodded, his eyes still glued to the screen, “Sou sou, Ken-chan version 1.0 scowls and grunts, he gives monosyllabic answers, freezes people with a look, and walks around with a haughty look on his face.” Yoshi paused, drank from the bottle, and wiped his mouth with his sleeve. He grinned unrepentantly at Ken, “Ken-chan version 2.0 smiles and laughs more, he’s more patient with people, and for the past few weeks, when he’s in the company of a certain someone, he walks around with a stupid grin on his face.”

Startled, Ken stared at his friend. He started to shake his head, “That was just acting,” he said in a low, scratchy voice, “I was playing up to the cameras.”

“Right,” Yoshi took another swig of beer, “and you put on a damn good performance every time. Man, when you scowl at any man who talks to her, or when you start looking impatiently around for her when she’s been gone from your side for at least five minutes, one can almost believe that you are truly head over heels in love with her.”

“I should really get acting lessons from you sometime Ken-san,” Yoshi continued as he surveyed Ken’s sudden pallor, “I have never ever seen you treat a woman like that,” Yoshi reached to put his bottle on the table, “Either you have learned some new acting tricks while you were in America or there’s something different about the situation this time around,” he clapped Ken on the shoulder, “Think about it my friend.”


Ai Otani knew that her time had come. Ever since she was a child she had dreamed of stardom. She had stood in front of the full-length mirror in her bedroom, imagining herself standing on a stage, dressed in luxurious clothes, being adulated by thousands. She dreamed of walking around on the arm of a rich, gorgeous, and famous man. And as she stared at her reflection in the mirror above the dresser in her room that night, she reflected that almost all her dreams had come true. All but the last one.

She had recognized her destiny when she first laid eyes on Ken Nakamura.

He was exactly the kind of man she deserved. The kind of man who would further propel her towards the stardom she had always dreamed of. She was honest enough to admit to herself that she didn’t love him. Nor did she fool herself into thinking she’d be susceptible to that crippling emotion. That was simply the reason Ken was perfect for her purposes. They were two of a kind.

The door opened and Reiko and Nana, chattering noisily, sat down on her bed. Ai scowled at them, but they took no notice of her. Sometimes Ai thought they were either really thick-skinned of plain stupid not to have noticed how much she despised them. However, Ai acknowledged that she needed them. She had dreamed of stardom, and the easiest way to fame and fortune was by forming a singing group. True, singing with Saga as a group didn’t exactly strain her vocal chords, but their group, with their cutesy techno songs and shockingly sexy ensembles, had found a solid fan base in the thousands of randy, repressed salarymen and Akihabara otaku.

“I still think that Yoshi-san is more into me,” Nana said as she flopped on the bed, her flimsy lingerie hiking up to reveal part of her back.

“Chigau,” Reiko protested, “he hugged me far longer than he hugged you.”

“Ne, ne,” Nana nudged Ai with the fluffy slipper that covered her foot, “Who do you think Yoshi-san likes more?”

“I couldn’t care less,” Ai shrugged. Frowning as she noticed a chip in one of her long, lacquered nails.

“Well, at least Ai isn’t into him,” Reiko consoled Nana as she bounced on the bed.

Nana laughed, “Yes, unlike some people, at least we know how to share,” she twisted round to look at Ai, “So how’s the campaign with Ken-san going? Have you made any progress?”

“Well, he was talking to her more than usual,” Reiko mused.

“Sou, sou,” Nana agreed, “He almost ignored her the last time they were introduced.”

“Has he broken up with the gaijin?” Reiko asked.

Ai smiled at them through the mirror, it was the kind of smile that would have sent chills down the spine of an ordinary mortal. “They might still be together, but they won’t be for long.”

Go to Chapter 20!

02 October 2009

Typhoon Ondoy: How to help ;-)

For people in Japan, here's how to help. You can send your donations to these organizations so efforts will be pooled before they are sent to the Philippines.


1. OFW-Shien Foundation (in a tie-up with Tulong Pinoy Movers in the Philippines)
Base: St. Anselm's Church, Meguro, Tokyo
How: via METROBANK Tokyo account (no. 027 3027 2417 28) Tulong Pinoy Movers Unlimited, Inc.

2. Japan Association of Novo-Ecijanos (JANE)
How: Contact Ms. Vilma Castillo (090 6488 5368) or Ms. Chat (080 3408 2127)

3. Via the Philippine National Bank, Tokyo - Remittance Charge is FREE
OIC: Pauline Beset, PNB 03-5401-3300 or 0120-86-6382, pauline@pnbtokyo.co.jp
a. GMA Kapuso Foundation (PESO) 1210 0320 0017 or (DOLLAR) 1210 0320 0025
b. CARITAS Manila (DOLLAR) 1085 6660 0025
c. Philippine National Red Cross (PESO) 3623 3680 0011

4. Convenience Stores
- There will be collection boxes at convenience stores all over Japan


Where: St. Anselm's Church, Meguro, Tokyo, after the 12 noon mass on Sundays
Contact: Natalie (080 3414 8464), Emma (080 5488 9630), Sancy (080 5088 4959), or Ate Linda (080 5510 3961)
Do: For people outside Tokyo, ask if you can send the items via Takkyubin

2. via the Fathers and brothers at the Komaba Chapel (collection will be ongoing for the month of October)
Contact: c/o Fr. Rexbert / Ate Liling
Tel. 03-3467-1871
Address. Escolapios4-5-12 Komaba Meguro-ku (エスコラピオス修道会目黒区駒場4-5-12)
* They will accept donations via Takkyubin, address the boxes to Fr. Rexbert

Let's all do our part ;-)

17 August 2009


hi everybody!

my apologies for the lack of posts --- i've just been swamped with work lately. anyway, i hope to resume posting chapters by the end of September or early October, so I hope you'll check back then.

have a good one!

18 June 2009

Character profile: Ken

Hi guys! After delving into Ana's character, let's try to get into Ken's. I hope you fall in love with him as much as I have ;-)

I loved trying to get into Ken’s head. Trying to explain away all the changes in his emotion, what he was thinking, and his decision making process was quite a challenge, but having been a sounding board to all my “kuyas” in UST CAFA helped me get into the male psyche. Tsk, all those hours on the phone were actually very educational! ;-)

Name:   Kenichi Nakamura           

Nickname:   Ken, Ken-chan

Birthday:   10 February 1971                       

Age:    38

Zodiac sign:   Aquarius

Color:   Black

Eyes and Hair:   Black eyes; hair used to be a blondish brown (Chapter 2), but was recently dyed back to black for a role

Height:   178cm

Body type:   Leanly muscular (flail!)

Food:   Sushi, takoyaki, Italian pasta, gelato, Indian and Thai curry, Ana’s adobo ;-)

Occupation:   Actor; usually appears in television dramas and movies, but used to prefer stage plays. He wanted to become a diplomat like his dad when he was a kid.

Interests:   Movies, good food, long drives, quiet beaches, surfing

Dislikes:   Clingy women, suck-ups, overly-timid people

Family:   Parents deceased; Dad (Osamu) was a diplomat and used to be attached to the Japanese political attaché in Washington. Ken and his family lived in the US for 3 years. Ken actually went to grade school in the US, so he speaks English pretty well (Chapter 7 and 15). His mother (Eiko) was diagnosed with terminal cancer when Ken’s acting career was just beginning to take off; she died shortly afterwards (Chapter 3). His dad was very much affected by his wife’s death and succumbed to heart failure a few years later, although Ken suspected that it was a combination of overwork and alcohol consumption that brought it on (Chapter 15). Ken has a younger sister, Yuki, who is currently based in Europe studying design.

Inspiration behind Ken’s character:

If you’ve been wondering which Japanese character I used as a basis for Ken’s character, I ask you to think back to Kaneshiro Takeshi’s character Keigo in Kamisama mou sukoshi dake. I’ve always been fascinated by the development of Keigo’s character in the j-dorama, so I decided to re-create the effect in my book. However, looks-wise, in my mind, Ken has always been a cross between Kaneshiro and Shun Oguri (double flail!).

Ken comes across as a highly independent character; he’s the strong and silent type and is a bit hard to figure out. He has a very strong sense of responsibility to his family and friends. For example, he took on the rearing of his sister when his parents died. He also has a very high set of moral standards and is a very exacting worker. He can often come across as rigid and unyielding (he can be really sungit sometimes), and he’s not someone who easily gives his trust. With people who have managed to earn his trust however, he can be very loyal, patient, and giving. He doesn’t mind it when Takashi (his manager-assistant) and Yoshi (his best friend) prattle on and bully him into doing things; he just knows that it’s their way of caring for him. He doesn’t always do as he is told however; as most Aquarians, he prefers to make his own decisions, but only after he has weighed all the options ;-)

Ken is someone who has suppressed his romantic notions due to a combination of necessity (he had to work to raise Yuki) and fear (he didn’t want to end up like his dad, who broke down after his mom’s unexpected demise). His cynical attitude, which was honed by his years in the entertainment industry, wars with his innate romantic nature. He wants to believe in love, but he’s scared to. He’s someone who needs someone special to make him believe true love is possible ;-)

13 June 2009

Leave it up to Fate: Chapter Eighteen

New to the Japayuki Chronicles?
Start with the Overview or Chapter 1

Ken had hardly seen Ana this past week and he was inexplicably eager to see her. His schedule had been packed; he was in the process of shooting a new television series and had been on location in Shizuoka. They finished shooting night scenes this week, so he had slept in most days and had only managed a hurried phone conversation with her in the middle of the week.

He noticed that he grew grumpier each day that he wasn’t able to talk to her. He couldn’t seem to explain why, but the sound of her voice at the other end of the line seemed to relax him after a hard day’s work. He enjoyed their nonsensical conversations and sporadic verbal sparring. Unlike other girls, Ana didn’t cower when he frowned or raised his voice. She raised hers in turn. If she disagreed with him, she argued until he admitted his mistake. She never seemed to be in awe of him. He even secretly liked how she teased him about being too full of himself. He also liked how comfortable she was with silence; unlike other girls, she didn’t feel the need to fill in bouts of silence with idle chatter. This, thought Ken, made their conversations all the more meaningful.

Lately, Ken had taken to calling her or sending her messages on her keitai each day just to say hello. Ana was a good listener and he found that it was relaxing to talk to her about his work—the dramas he was currently shooting and the projects he was thinking of taking on. It was refreshing to speak to someone who wasn’t in the industry. She was alternately shocked, fascinated, and amused by his stories about the eccentricities and antics of some of his colleagues.

He had hoped to see her when he gotten back to Tokyo this morning, but his assistant Takashi informed him that he was due to appear in a couple of shows. Late this afternoon, Ken had almost been at the end of his tether when Takashi informed him that the taping for the evening was cancelled due to his co-star being sick. Takashi had been surprised at the sudden grin that broke through Ken’s frown when he delivered the news. He had bounded up, grabbed his car keys, and headed out the door.

Ken didn’t bother to explain away the swift burst of happiness he felt. He walked down the corridor leading to the parking lot with a wide grin on his face. As he slid into his car, his bad mood had almost completely dissipated. He started the car and headed to Ana’s office with the intention of surprising her.

Although they had initially agreed to meet only a few times a week, Ken often went out of his way to see his pseudo-girlfriend. In the past few weeks, he had acquired the habit of dropping by to take Ana out to lunch or dinner. He even gamely signed autographs or chatted with the staff at the institute when he was there. Yoshi had jokingly quipped one night that since Ken was at university so often, he might as well try for a degree.

There was a noticeable smile on his face as he bounded up the stairs to Ana’s office. He hoped that she was in. He had tried calling her, but there had been something wrong with the connection. He smiled when he found her bag and coat in her office; it meant that she was still somewhere in the institute.

His gaze lingered on the array of items that littered her desk and the credenza behind it. A few weeks ago, Ken found a go-around for Ana’s aversion to receiving gifts from him. He saved the network giveaways he normally blew off and gave them to her instead. On her desk, a stuffed animal from Fuji Terebi sat beside a mug from Suntory that held an array of colorful pens from TBS, NHK, and other local television networks. On the credenza, a vase held the flowers Ken received from his last commercial taping a week ago.

Ken looked around and approached a couple of interns a couple of cubicles down. They eagerly told him that they saw Dr. Madrigal go into the cafeteria earlier. After getting directions and thanking them, Ken headed downstairs towards the cafeteria. He decided to join her since she was already eating. He smiled as he thought of how surprised she’d be to see him.

When he finally located the cafeteria, he stood in the doorway and silently scanned the clinical surroundings for a glimpse of Ana. He smiled when he finally spotted her curly head at one of the tables. He started towards her, but suddenly stopped when he realized whom it was she was talking to. Ana was smiling and leaning forward in her seat as she listened intently to what Sato was saying. Sato then clasped her hand in his and she stared up at him in surprise.

Ken stared at them for a moment before he abruptly turned away and went back up the stairs. Ignoring the guard’s greeting of “otsukaresama,” he headed to the parking lot and got into his car. As he sat there, he realized that he was seething with an emotion he could not recognize. He felt numb. He felt aggravated. He wanted to howl in despair. The image of Sato holding on to Ana’s hand seemed to be imprinted on his brain. It hurt. Somehow, seeing Ana with Sato had hurt.

Nande?! Ochitsuke! Get a grip, Ken thought as he mentally shook himself. He looked around, as if seeing his surroundings for the first time. What the hell was he doing here? This was stupid. It was Friday night and he was Ken Nakamura. He was one of Japan’s biggest movie stars. Ken Nakamura didn’t sit contemplating his fate in lonely parking lots; the night was young and he had places to go. He wouldn’t waste his time on people who were preoccupied with other things. There were tons of people who were clamoring to be by his side. He picked up his keitai and called his friend Yoshi. After ascertaining where Yoshi was, he started the car and headed to join him.

Tapas, where Yoshi was currently hanging out, was a discreet watering hole in the Shinjuku district. It had opened only a couple of months before, but it had already gained a reputation for its extensive wine selection and quiet, classy atmosphere.

Ken frowned as he entered, the air was hazy with smoke and the filled with the steady beat of an electronic pulse. At the bar, he was hailed by several industry acquaintances. They wanted to know about his latest drama so he talked shop with them for a few minutes before he excused himself and went upstairs to hunt down Yoshi.

The second floor was much quieter than the lower floor. The lighting was subdued and Ken heard muffled laughter and conversation from the booths on either side of the hallway. As he passed, he caught glimpses of people through openings in the red velvet drapes that partially covered each booth, giving the space an illusion of privacy.

He found Yoshi in a booth at the back of the room. Sitting in the booth with him were three girls whom Ken recognized as the members of Saga, an all-female singing group managed by an agency affiliated with his own. Yoshi raised an arm to wave Ken over, and then he settled his arms firmly around Reiko and Nana. The two females twittered excitedly at Ken’s arrival. Ken had hardly said a word of greeting when the third girl excitedly rose to greet him.

“Ken-san, ohisashiburi!” Ai Otani said as she stood to peck Ken on the cheek.

“Why isn’t Ana with you?” Yoshi asked as Ken smiled distractedly at Ai as he slid into the booth next to her.

“She was busy,” Ken answered curtly.

“Are we meeting up with her later? Is she having dinner with Kaye and Tessa?” Yoshi persisted, earning him a ferocious frown from Ai.

“No,” Ken answered, his voice told Yoshi not to pursue the matter further. Yoshi frowned and shrugged.

Ai signaled for a waiter and after Ken had placed an order, she put her hand on his shoulder, “Aitakatta yo, I’ve been looking everywhere for you lately,” she informed him, “I knew you’d be meeting Yoshi sooner or later, and I was right.”

Ai smiled in satisfaction was she sipped her cocktail. Yatta, she thought to herself, what a great piece of luck to find Ken alone these days. She had been itching to get his hands on him even when he and Erina were still an item. Her delight at their breakup had been dampened by the appearance of the gaijin. Ai was not terribly interested in the girl, she was a foreigner—a gaijin. Moreover, she was not in the industry, so Ai considered her a commoner. Ken would definitely be better served if he got together with herself, she thought.

Ken shrugged, “I was busy with work these past few days,” he told her.

“I heard you were shooting a new drama,” Ai prompted, offering him a cigarette and a light.

“Ah, sou da ne,” Ken said after taking a puff, “I was on location in Shizuoka this week.”

“Sou desu ka? I love Shizuoka!” Ai trilled, as she continued to pump Ken for information. While she did so, she skillfully tried to drape herself over him. She leaned into him and gave him a good view of the spectacular cleavage Yoshi had been ogling half of the night.

When Ai fluttered her eyelashes at Ken, Yoshi was surprised his friend wasn’t blown away by the breeze created by her fake extensions. Yoshi almost rolled his eyes. Ai was sure laying it on thick. He stared at Ken over the smoke curling from his own cigarette. There was something wrong with this scene, he thought as he observed Ken’s reaction to Ai’s fawning. Yoshi knew his friend very well, and he knew how females like Ai had irritated the hell out of him. But instead of brushing her off, he was actually smiling back at her.

Yoshi caught Ken’s eye and raised one of his brows. Ken raised one of his in turn as Ai continued to snuggle into his side.

Ken and Ai had only been formally introduced a few weeks ago at a mixer organized by his agency. As his assistant Takashi had introduced them, he informed Ken that he and Ai were partnered to host a segment in the fundraiser concert that their agencies were supporting. It was all Ken could do to hold on to his temper as the girl had simpered up to him. He had always detested girls who came on too strong.

Today however, his ego needed soothing, and there was no better balm to his senses than having a female treat him like a god.

An image of Ana looking up into Sato’s eyes flashed before his eyes, but he resolutely blocked it. He was a fool for forgetting that theirs was nothing more than a business agreement. It wasn’t that he had let her get under his skin, he reasoned, it was just that … it was just that he had come to like Ana. She was fun to be with. She was different. She was sassy and sweet. She had become his friend.

That was it, she was his friend and he simply felt that she definitely deserved someone better than that preppy Sato.

It was nothing to get worked up about, Ken thought as he took a deep breath and strove to drive Ana and Sato out of his mind.

On the other side of the booth, Yoshi watched Ken master the conflicting emotions racing across his face. He watched as a familiar cold mask settled across his friend’s features. Something happened with Ana, Yoshi realized. He hadn’t seen that mask in place in months. A frown creased his own brow as he watched Ken smile at Ai as he turned to sip wine from the glass that she proffered.

Something was definitely wrong, Yoshi thought. He was getting to the bottom of this.

Go to Chapter 19!

04 June 2009

Taym Pers: On writing and inspiration

I love musicals. And thanks to L and C's incessant sisnging during our stint at MNM (it's really hard when you work with theater people; either mainis ka or you just go along and sing) one of my favorite musicals is Sunset Boulevard. My favorite scene is when Betty Schaefer and Joe Gillis are talking about the script they're making:

BETTY: Girl meets boy. If that's how you want it. She's a young teacher, he's a reporter. It's hate at first sight.

JOE: It won't sell, these days they want glamour: Fabulous heiress meets handsome Hollywood heel. The problem is, she thinks he's a (dentist) burglar. Would you believe it? A wedding in the last reel.

BETTY: It doesn't have to be so mindless. You should write from your experience. Give us something really moving; something true.

JOE: Who wants true? Who the hell wants moving? Moving means starving and true means holes in your shoe.

BETTY: No, you're wrong. They still make good pictures. Stick to your story,it's a good story.

JOE: O.K. Miss Schaefer; I give it to you.

Sigh. This doesn't really do it any justice; you really have to hear the song to feel it ;-)
Ok, so this doesn't exactly encapsulate the story I'm trying to piece together. Although I love how stories embody just how flexible people can be, even when they think they aren't. Putting two such dissimilar people together can only result in two things: something really bad or something really, really good ;-) Being the romantic I am, I choose the latter as the premise for my story.

I feel kind of guilty sometimes because I've always been a big dreamer and I love drama. So I deliberately made some of the characters in the first book a bit larger than life. And on the whole I'm glad for all of your responses. I am gladdened by how you are able to relate to my characters' quirks and eccentricities---for me, that makes them come alive all the more ;-) Heehee. And for those of you who have asked who I am amongst my characters, well, I really can't decide. The truth is, I see myself in each one of them. Yes, even Jon and Marga ;-) I have always been glad of having a multi-facted personality that allows me to learn from different kinds of people. In that way, my experiences, both good and bad, have become part of my writing.

Furthermore, I believe that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things. And this probably is the underlying sentiment of all my stories. Whatever happens, I still believe in people ;-) Dreams don't cost a cent anyway. Heehee.

Anyway, I made this rambling post just to let you know that I am still alive and well---although snowed in with work---and I'm working to have the next few chapters ready for you soon.

Thanks so much for your patience!

20 May 2009

Character profile: Ana

In the interest of allowing you to get to know the characters of the story better, I’ve decided to share some of their character profiles with you ;-) What kind of stuff do you have in common with them?


Name:  Maria Juana Madrigal

Nickname:  Ana

Birthday: 25 March 1977

Age: 32

Zodiac sign:  Aries

Height: 165 cm

Color:   Used to like blacks, browns, and navy blues, but now prefers a more colorful palette. For example, her latest acquisition is a pair of purple patent heels (see chapter 10) ;-)

Eyes and hair:  Chocolate brown. Hair used to really long (until the middle of her back and usually clubbed back in a ponytail), but now is jaw-length and has light brown streaks (Thanks to Taki---see Chapter 8).

Body type:  Athletic, lean, and rangy (but she hates doing any sort of physical activity)

Food:   Pork shogayaki, Indian food (the spicier the better), green mango shakes, taho and fishballs at UP, ebi sushi

Occupation:  Researcher (field: Physics, in particular Condensed Matter Theory and Correlated Quantum Matter); currently employed by a private research institute

Education: Undergrad at UP Diliman, MS at University of Texas in Austin, Phd. at the University of Tokyo

Interests: Has a secret addiction to romance novels and Pinoy teleseryes; loves Piolo Pascual!

Dislikes:  Natto (Japanese fermented beans), alcohol (she gets drunk easily), the smell of cigarettes


Antonio and Lucia (parents); Jorge (older brother), married to Lynne (Ana’s college buddy---See chapter 1 and 15); and Miguel (younger brother), married to Felicia (a prominent Cebu socialite); 4 nephews (Antonio Jr. and Jacobo, Miguel and Felicia’s kids, Javier and Lucas, Tanya's younger brothers); 1 niece (Tanya, Jorge and Lynne’s daughter---see chapter 15); Family is based in Cebu and runs a shipping business

Inspiration behind Ana’s character:

Ana’s character was inspired by the impressed ramblings of D., a Pinoy physics scholar from Kyoto University. He attended a conference and one of the speakers was a Filipina physicist from the University of Texas. D was particularly impressed by how she handled herself in the panel presentation, according to him, pang-Ms.Universe ang mga sagot! He also told me about that not too many women are into his field, and that competition can get really tough at times.

Ana’s character is an intriguing blend of strength and vulnerability. As a typical Aries, she is used to getting her way. She’s tough yet compassionate—she hates being treated with kid gloves just because she’s a woman, but at the same time, she love babying the people around her. She can be amazingly single-minded at times too. For example, when she made her mind up to pursue the study of physics, she put all her energy behind it. She’s also a secret romantic, but this wars with her orderly, scientific mind so she does her best to keep it at bay. She can be outspoken about her research, but can also be shy and close-mouthed when it comes to things of a personal and romantic nature, of which she has hardly any experience.

Ana’s appearance is inspired by A., the daughter of a Pinoy musician to whom I am supposed to be (very) distantly related. Her curly locks and her pride in them is exactly the kind of image I was looking for. Ana isn't drop-dead gorgeous, she had a kind of comfortable, old-world beauty that one appreciates over time. Partly due to her single-minded devotion to her profession, Ana really wasn’t concerned with physical appearances. I try to develop that awareness throughout the book—the slow re-awakening of her womanhood (naks!).