Category Archives: Writings

dog shaman

Shaman Khorolkan of the Kambaghir tribe of the Evenk, first quarter of the nineteenth century (Illinois State Museum)
Shaman Khorolkan of the Kambaghir tribe of the Evenk, first quarter of the nineteenth century (Illinois State Museum)

dog shaman gnaws his soul to the bone,

his is not the highest, his is but to roam.

Does he ever make it home?

For him there is no grandeur,

he sleeps on the kitchen floor,

wags his tail then is no more.

Mighty Eagle and Bear don’t care,

They can go anywhere,

but They don’t know what it means to share.

Well, who knows what we’ll be in the end,

so from one dog to another, i’ll miss you old friend.

Trying to get to Transylvania

Weeping Willow by Willowomoon
Weeping Willow by Willowomoon

Frankenstein was a Jewish Transylvanian, I knew this because I heard his Hebrew name being sung sadly. I was watching a movie about an actor who was going there as a con artist. As a disguise, he bought a top hat and a cane. He had a meeting with some doctors after which he would be able to go to Transylvania. During the meeting, I took the actor’s place: now I was the con man. I didn’t know what to say. The doctors were talking about different kinds of thrombosis. The doctors discovered I was a fraud and told me to leave.

I realized my top hat was actually the hat of a civil war soldier. Walking the streets homeless, I wondered how I would get to Transylvania. There was a child playing in the street and I saved his life by pushing him out of the way of a car. I saw lots of Transylvanian symbols at a street shop. Nearby there were dancing gypsy women and I recognized that they were from Transylvania. My hat had a symbol of Frankenstein on it.

As I continued walking, the street became an ominous path by the sea. It was dark, there were drooping willow trees on the left side and the sea on the right. The ground was wet with many puddles. I kept walking hoping that this path would take me to Transylvania. A young boy came from behind and called to me saying that the road was dangerous. His teacher had been knocked over by a wave and pulled into the sea. Suddenly, a raging wind lifted me and the boy. I no longer saw him, I was being whisked away to Transylvania. There was a moaning gypsy woman calling as I tumbled through the air.

Returning to the Ruins of My Apartment

Overgrown Ruins
Overgrown Ruins

I was driving around when I came across a familiar neighborhood. There I found an apartment complex which I somehow recognized as the location of an old home where I once lived. I went inside to visit. The whole apartment complex had largely been reclaimed by nature. Plants and trees grew wild through the apartments and the halls.

I visited what was supposedly my old apartment. I went out to the backyard where there were many feral cats and dogs.  They were all vicious and aggressive. There was also a pool with a great white shark inside. I fell into the pool and the great white came after me. I used a pool floaty as a buffer between me and the shark. I had to constantly swim to maneuver the floaty between myself and the shark. He would come ramming against it full of force. Eventually, I got out of the pool and looked in. Now there was a cat on the floaty. This time the shark jumped from the water and ate the cat and floaty effortlessly. I was relieved it wasn’t me.

I went to the common pool area of the apartment complex and found a couple people relaxing in lawn chairs. I was surprised that they still inhabitated these abandoned ruins of an apartment complex. They seemed to scoff at me for thinking it was wild at all.


Hey, I’ll explain the world that I see;

The events that transpire, and why to me.

Well, I’m a follower of great Δt;

which makes what’s past out of what will be.

And I’m enslaved by cruel mean Δt;

because what’s mine is mine just momentarily.

But I’m liberated by pure true Δt;

learning takes time to forget and be free.

Yeah, I’m just me thanks to Δt;

finding in a moment of forever, harmony


Imperial Japanese Navy oiler Irō under attack on 30 March 1944, Palau, photo by United States Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy oiler Irō under attack on 30 March 1944, Palau, photo by United States Navy

Among gnarled and twisted branches, small fish on display.

During the quiet afternoon, us humans come for play.

Beneath our playground, a dark labyrinthine tomb.

This wouldn’t be our playground, but for your horrific doom.

I do not come for the fun and play anymore, if ever I visit this site.

I just come to watch the daring fish, all fighting the good fight.

A Letter to Mr. Ishikawa

Mr. Tomimatsu Ishikawa
Mr. Tomimatsu Ishikawa

This is Mr. Tomimatsu Ishikawa (2/28/1918 – 7/17/2013), WW2 veteran, fighter for soldier’s rights, and scuba diver.  He served on a fleet oiler, the Irō, during the war and was one of the few survivors when she was sunk by an American air raid as part of Operation Desecrate One.  In his later life, he advocated for the Japanese government to properly recognize and inter the remains of his comrades who had died aboard the Irō.  On March 30, 2004, at the age of 86 years old, Mr. Ishikawa dove 90 feet to the ship’s wreck and performed a memorial ceremony for his friends.  Partly, the reason for this dive was personal.  He wanted to pay respect to his friends.  The other reason for the dive was to generate media attention and broader awareness about the situation of the Irō.

Yoko and Mr. Ishikawa
Yoko and Mr. Ishikawa

The guide who helped him complete his mission was my friend Yoko Higashide.  She was very close to Mr. Ishikawa and regarded him as a grandfather.  Before her meeting Mr. Ishikawa, Yoko had limited knowledge about the shipwrecks of Palau.  She had worked there as a dive guide for two years without knowing that there were any shipwrecks.  It was only when she started working at Fish ‘n’ Fins, an international dive shop, that Yoko started to know about the WW2 history of Palau.  Even as she would lead dives to the wrecks, she always felt bad to be diving on them.  In her words, “It’s like we are playing at a graveyard”.

Me holding my letter to Mr. Ishikawa
Me holding my letter to Mr. Ishikawa

In the summer of 2007, I had the privilege to go diving in Palau.  One of the dives I went on was the Irō.  It was not the first time I had been there, but this time was different because my guide was Yoko.  She explained to me about the ship’s history and told me Mr. Ishikawa’s story.  I was inspired by his determination to return to the Irō, even though it was deep and he was 86 years old.  I asked Yoko if she could help me write a letter in Japanese to Mr. Ishikawa.  I wanted to let him know that I was an American who was moved by his mission to pay respect to his fallen comrades.  You can see my letter to him at the bottom of this blog post.  To my surprise, he wrote me back a long letter.  Although I mailed him again in 2009, that was the end of our correspondence.  For me, though, the one letter was enough.  Our lives were connected from then on.

Mr. Ishikawa praying for his comrades
Mr. Ishikawa praying for his comrades

Now, when I dive on war wrecks I am reflective of the human suffering that led the ships to be where they are.  So I do not consider wreck diving to be a leisurely activity like diving on a reef.  It is a somber activity like visiting a graveyard or the site of an old battle.  It is important to go there to remember our history.  Regarding my experience of writing a letter to Mr. Ishikawa, I think it is a truly great thing that even though Japan and the USA fought bitterly within his lifetime, he still lived to see the day when Yoko and I could be friends and enjoy scuba diving together.  I hope that I can always be a peaceful person and make him smile down from heaven.

Please read Mr. Ishikawa’s story by Yoko.  It is the second link in the Related Media below.

Related Media:

Memorial Video of Mr. Ishikawa

Mr. Ishikawa’s Story by Yoko Higashide

Returning Mr. Ishikawa’s Ashes to the Iro by Yoko Higashide

Daniel’s Letter in English

Daniel’s Letter in Japanese (Typed)

Daniel’s Letter in Japanese (Handwritten)

Mr. Ishikawa’s Reply Letter