In 2001, I lived in Hiroshima and spent six months interviewing the survivors of the atomic bombings as research for my next two novels. During that time, my world exploded, as did the worlds, and the lives, of many other people across the globe as the September 11th attacks changed much of what we understood about ourselves, most of what we thought we could count on, and even quite a bit of what we remembered of our histories. For me, those acts of war echoed in every aspect of my identity, and fueled a new way of thinking about memory and truth and narrative. My memoir, Hiroshima in the Morning, is my response to this experience.

In 2005, I returned to Japan for a month to revisit the place and my memories of it. Although much of my first stay was focused on Japan’s history and traditional culture, this time I sought out a more synthesized and future-looking element. Again, my journeys inspired new ideas for my writing.

From my notebooks, then: thoughts, experiences and images from Japan in no particular order.