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We Should Go Get Our Feet Eaten by Fish

So I am in Japan, land of beauty and adventure! I am having an excellent time, and I am being well-cared-for by the Queen of Slovenia.

She is very wise. She tells me many things as she skilfully navigates me around the streets of Osaka and Tokyo. As we went around the Imperial Garden she told me that there is an Imperial Household Agency that protects the Japanese royal family. But they are not the most reclusive people - the Burmese government move their capital regularly.

I also have much wisdom to share with her. We went to Sunshine 60 to see all of Tokyo laid out before us, and the Queen was much surprised to see life-size statues in our way to the view.

QUEEN OF SLOVENIA: Are these famous Japanese people?
SARAH: Yes. They are the evil magical ninja from Naruto.
SARAH: You can tell they're evil, because they're wearing purple nail polish.

I lived with my friend Penelope, volcano goddess of sarcasm and fan of Japanese media in many forms, in England for a year. This means I am in possession of much useful knowledge about Japan. The yakuza is the Japanese mafia, for instance. Go is a Japanese board game that obsessed ghosts force people to play. (That last bit might not be an essential part of the game.)

Japan is a land of Worlds Within Worlds. We had already been to Gyoza World (miles of dumplings! Best place ever!) and Ice-Cream City (Except for there), where we considered eating squid ink ice-cream, but chickened out and went for pear sherbet.

The Queen of Slovenia seemed tired by something. Possibly by our ride on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, the biggest Ferris Wheel in the world. She suggested Spa World. All her other ideas had been excellent: I agreed.

I have many glamorous friends. Compared to them, I'm a little bit like a cheerful monkey in a dress.

Well, in Spa World, I was like a cheerful monkey in a pink smock. I nodded happily to the idea of massages. Then I was leaped upon and pummelled by strangers. My first reaction was to plot a spinning kick! Then to use the orange hand towel to swing from the light fixture, go through the window, and employ the pink smock to rappel to safety!

I remembered I had a comrade I could not abandon, though. So I stayed to be pummelled.

QUEEN OF SLOVENIA: Mmm, I feel so relaxed.
SARAH: ... I don't care what you do to me... I'll never confess I'm a witch!

After that I insisted on being fortified with a chestnut flavoured ice-cream. At the ice-cream stand we adopted a tiny Japanese girl child, who clearly thought to herself 'Look, a lunatic monkey in a pink smock. I will follow it and see what it does.'

QUEEN OF SLOVENIA: Oh Sarah, look! We should go get our feet eaten by fish!
SARAH: Ignore her Majesty, small child. The toil of ruling goes to her head sometimes. I - OH MY GOD SHE HAS HER FEET IN A POOL AND THERE ARE FISH EATING THEM. Call the firemen! No, call the fishmen! Wait, there are no fishmen! Oh God we're all doomed.
QUEEN OF SLOVENIA: *tugs Sarah towards the pool with regal indifference to the babbled protests*

Once I was in the pool the fish ate my feet. It tickled. I made up a song for the small girl child, who appeared to be having the time of her life. It went 'Oh God, fish are eating my feet, what will I do? Oh God, fish are eating my feet, soon they will eat your feet too.'

I feel I do not have a career ahead of me as a minstrel. Or indeed in childcare.

My current career pleases me, though. Unfortunately (since I was terribly happy to hear via email and here on the blog that there might be people who'd like to see me) we have not been able to arrange an appearance for me in Japan - major holiday, the complication of me not speaking any Japanese - but I am having Exciting Lunches. I keep going to bookshops to talk to people, and then I wind up buying all the copies of Demon's Lexicon in Japanese that they have.

This is not as crazy as it sounds. When I asked my family and friends what they wanted from Japan, many of them said 'You really seem to love that Japanese edition. Bring me back a copy so I can see why it's so great.'

I must admit, before I came to Japan even I did not know how great my Japanese edition was. I knew that the cover was amazing. I knew that there was a picture of a talisman inside, covered by a flyleaf.

I did not know that the cover looks a little rough and textured in person, like a real painting. (I also did not know it was a hardcover edition - I shall slip off the cover and put it on an English edition, and truthfully say I am reading the book. I shall look so learned.) Nor did I know that there is a map of the United Kingdom inside, with all the places Nick and company go to - Durham, Exeter, Tiverton, the Isle of Wight - marked out in English and Japanese, like the map of a fantasy land.

I think part of the reason I love urban fantasy - magic happening in the real world - so much is that I think anywhere can be a fantasy land.

From the vermilion curves of the Miyajima shrine to the glittering spread of Tokyo, like a huge psychedelic New York from the ground and from above like an ocean of stars and sequins, Japan makes a fairly awe-inspiring fantasy land.

In more practical news, I have some dates for people who might want to see me!

In Ireland on October 3rd, there's a Literary Lunch for teens with me and other authors - just email if you want to come. All details found here

After that and some library events for the Children's Book Festival in Ireland, I fly off to the US and here are some (but not all!) of my dates and places for events on the Tour With Scott Westerfeld.

Tuesday October 6th, 4:30PM

Santa Monica Public Library Event hosted by Children’s Bookworld.

601 Santa Monica Boulevard

Santa Monica, CA 90401

Wednesday October 7th, 4:00PM

Mrs. Nelson’s Books and Toys

1030 Bonita Avenue

La Verne, CA 91750



3700 Torrance Boulevard

Torrance, CA 90503

Thursday October 8th, 7:00PM

Menlo Park Library event

800 Alma Street

Menlo Park, CA 94025

Saturday October 10th, 3:00PM (Scott presents at noon)

Presentation and Q&A at Wordstock, Portland's Book & Literary Festival

Location: Oregon Convention Center

777 NE Martin Luther King Boulevard

Portland, OR 97232


Barnes & Noble presentation and signing

Location: 12000 SE 82nd Avenue

Portland, OR 97266

Other things (an event in Seattle!) to follow.

I am terribly excited! I hope I will see some of you there! I am also excited for more Japan. Apparently I am going to be put in a chocolate bath: expect me to sing another song about it.


( 110 comments — Leave a comment )
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Sep. 17th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
The Japanese version sounds highly entertaining. Now I'll have to see about getting one as well! ....or at least convincing my friends in Japan to read it.
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:10 pm (UTC)
I love your descriptions of real life fantasy worlds - I often feel that the world we live in is magical in its own right.

Also, any chance you might come to little old Baltimore, MD, US? There's a huge fantasy following, for example, at Johns Hopkins University. I would be thrilled, as would others, to be able to go to one of your events!

Another also - it is very encouraging for me to be able to read your journal. I am a young writer who despairs of the very faint possibility of publishing (and, you know, actually *selling a book*), and knowing that it is indeed possible is greatly cheering. Thanks for keeping up the journal and keeping up my hope!
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC)
Baltimore's not on the list for this tour, I'm afraid, but maybe another time, should all go well!
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
Japan sounds amazing! You are very brave to allow your feet to be eaten by fish, I am sceptical of any regime that involves being eaten.

Also your Japanese cover sounds even more intensely wonderful than I could ever have imagined and were it not for the fact that I cannot read Japanese, and that to own a book and not be able to read it would completely break my heart, I think I would buy it in a heartbeat. Maybe I should change my language module to Japanese this year - I'm sure it's much more fun than silly old Latin. And ohhh maps in the front of books bring me so much joy. They were the reason I kept reading Arthur Ransome books long after they stopped being interesting. And I'm sure the reason why I own far too many Milly-Molly-Mandy's.

I look forward to your chocolate bath song! But please don't let someone mix you up with the chocolate and eat you again, I think it would be distressing.
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
like the map of a fantasy land


We had a surprisingly good time in Osaka despite being there for a single day at the end of a three-week trip around Japan. http://kate-nepveu.livejournal.com/252235.html

Have fun!
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)

Be sure to visit the Powell's that takes up an entire city block if you can/haven't already. It is like a magical jungle of literary awesome.
Sep. 17th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)
Oh yes you MUST! - I visited there a few years ago and still dream of building a small fort up in the history section out of boxes of books and living there forever. There is even a cafe and rest rooms, so I would never have to leave!
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
There's a map of the UK?! Aww, I really want the Japanese cover now. I wonder how much it would cost to get it shipped over here...

Your tales of Japan sound wonderfully amusing. I like the Naruto reference (I haven't actually seen or read any Naruto, but go to any anime convention and you can't help but hear about it).
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
whoa! That cover indeed is neat! (And I know the artist... who doesn't that is a bit more into Manga~? Lucky you! You deserve it!)
If I ever get to go to Japan and see your book there, I will also buy the Japanese version!
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
I am so excited that there will be an event in Seattle! (Because, of course, I am in Seattle.) Hurrah!
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
Please tell me you will visit Washington DC some day. I pine for your company. :(
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
I couldn't get the Japanese cover link to work. :( It said "cannot be displayed because it has errors".

Wish I was back in CA so I could see you! Maybe I should tell my aunt and uncle to go to the Santa Monica library presentation. :D

While in Portland, be sure to stop in at Powell's bookstore. Pure heaven.
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. Um, I am not sure what to do, being the least savvy person on the internet. My icon is a bit of the cover?

I will just be talking about my book, so it'd probably be dull for you. ;) But no matter how dull it will be for people, all are welcome!
(no subject) - aome - Sep. 17th, 2009 04:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - issuegirls - Sep. 17th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aome - Sep. 17th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
I just spent a ridiculous amount of time wondering if I could possibly make it from Utah to California, because we have a week-long break from law school the second week of October, and October 6 is my birthday...

Alas, it is not feasible. I hope your other fans come out in droves to support you, though!
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
I so wish you were coming to the Eastern part of the U.S! Specifically Raleigh, but I'm not picky. I have a car and enough cd's for a nice long drive.
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
Sadly I knew my tour events were not going to be Eastern-y, which is why I had the NYC event in July. I like to spread myself about as much as I can. ;) Another time for more Eastern stuff, with luck!
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Hey! I live in Seattle! Though, I'll probably be away so I won't be able to see you. :( *le sigh*
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
The above poster reminded me: Go to the Elliot Bay Bookstore in Seattle when you're here. It's amazing and olde tymey, sort of, with half of it being used books, and the other half being new books, and the downstairs is a cafe and it's just lovely.
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Ah, you're in Japan!

My jealousy right now is like a (not-so-)tiny carp, nibbling away at my toes.
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
You're in Japan!?!?? Sugoi da na!!!!! I am jealous. Sou desu yo!

AND ARE YOU SERIOUS!?!?!?! THEY HAVE NARUTO STATUES!?!?!?!? OH. MY. GODDESS! haha. The purple nail polish haha. So true. Gyoza world and Ice cream city.... oh my goodness!

haha. Your adventures in Nihon sound marvelous! :)
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Sarah Rees Brennan
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