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Walt Mussell is visiting with us today!



by Walt Mussell

I’d like to thank Sandy and the rest of Petit Fours and Hot Tamales for having me today.  I appreciate the chance to talk about my writing journey and the area that has become my passion.

The item above is called a Daruma doll.   It is a Japanese doll used for goal setting.  The dolls are sold with no eyes. The person who buys it sets a goal, blackens one eye, and keeps it as a reminder of his/her goal.  Politicians often use huge ones, beginning their campaigns by blacking one eye, and then blacking the other eye at a celebratory party after they win.  The above doll is mine.  I set a goal of publishing a novel, blackened one eye, and will blacken the other one when I achieve it.

The doll is an apt talisman for me.  I write inspirational novels set in medieval Japan, specifically the late 16th century.  If you have seen or read Shogun, you will have an apt understanding of the time period.  My stories are set roughly 10 years prior to that novel.  I didn’t start out writing Japan-based novels.  When I began writing several years ago, I focused on humorous personal essays on marriage and parenting.  I wrote a manuscript on marriage from the male POV, targeted to women.  I also sold several essays to parenting and education magazines.

That all changed in the summer of 2008.

In the summer of 2008, my family and I traveled to Japan to visit friends and family.  I lived there for four years in the early ’90s.  My wife is from Japan and our kids have dual citizenship. We try to go as often as we can.


On that 2008 trip, we visited Himeji Castle.   Himeji Castle is a six-story structure built to resemble a white heron in flight.  It served as the backdrop to such movies as You Only Live Twice, The Last Samurai, and Shogun.  It is one of the few original castles left in the country.


One feature of many Japanese castles is the circular tiles along the roof edge.   The tiles, called “devil’s tiles,” are there to ward against tsunamis, fires, typhoons, etc.   Himeji Castle, though, has one special tile:   One that bears the impression of a cross.   ( Himeji Castle  Guide to World Cultural Heritage Site)
The reason it’s special is it shouldn’t be there.  Christianity arrived in Japan in 1549, brought by Portuguese Jesuit missionaries.  It grew to over 200,000 converts at its zenith.  However, the Japanese government, fearful of the religion’s foreign influence, sought to eradicate it, driving it underground by 1638 in ways that would make The Inquisition seem beneficent.  There’s no reason this cross should have survived the persecution.  However, it actually appeared at its outset.  And though the blogosphere offers a solution as to how the cross got there, the official word is that the cross’s origin is unknown.  That mystery sparked several threads in my head.   Somehow, I knew, I wanted to introduce readers to this cross and to the uncertainty that Christians faced in that time period.

My first Japan-based manuscript, The Samurai’s Heart, is set in Himeji and one of its subplots is providing a story to how the cross got to the castle.  The story has experienced a number of rejections.  However, it has several contest finals and won the 2011 Unpublished Maggie in the Inspirational category.   I also have two other Japan-based manuscripts in process, one of which won the 2012 inspirational category for Lone Star.  I’m also working on two other manuscripts (non-Japanese), with plans to finish these two drafts by midyear.  I have a long way to go, but I believe in the stories I’m telling.


I hope you enjoyed the history.   As for the prize for today’s post, my wife has made an origami Kissing Ball for one lucky commenter. A Kissing Ball is like a Christmas ornament, though it can be used for other occasions.  It’s not innately Japanese, but the origami part is.    Again, thanks inviting me to join you today.                                                                                                                                             


About the author:     Walt Mussell is represented by Terry Burns of Hartline Literary.  In addition to the magazine credits mentioned above, he has one published novella in a Christmas anthology titled,   Hot Cocoa for the Heart   .    He maintains a blog called  Daddy Needs Decaf   ( )  where he talks about parenting challenges once a week.   If you have a chance, please check out his book and/or visit his blog.

Mary Preston - February 6, 2013 - 2:46 am

Fabulous thank you. I had not realized that Christianity had reached Japan so early or of the persecution that ensued.

It’s been many years since I read SHOGUN, but that period in history is fascinating.

Marilyn Baron - February 6, 2013 - 5:22 am

Thanks for guest blogging with us today. Your writing journey is fascinating. I loved Shogun and I think the premise of your novel is intriguing. I have no doubt you will achieve your goal. Don’t give up,

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 6:14 am

Mary, the Portguese brought Christianity and guns to Japan. The Japanese of that time found the combination interesting.

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 6:15 am

Marilyn, thank you. I’m still very hopeful and keep writing while I wait.

Maxine - February 6, 2013 - 6:48 am

Walt, Thank you for joining us today. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I love history. To hear about it concerning a place I have not visited is fascinating. I would love to visit Japan and see this history in person. Good luck with the publishing. The manuscript sounds great, and I’m sure it will be ‘out there’ soon.

Jeannie Lin - February 6, 2013 - 6:55 am

What an intriguing post! All of the sudden, I find myself wanting a Daruma doll, a devil’s tile, AND an origami kissing ball. (Greedy)

Please let your wife know that her origami is beautiful. The flowers look real!

Thanks for the wonderful historical detail and with such a fascinating setting and time period, I have no doubt we’ll be seeing your books on the shelves someday soon.

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 7:23 am

Maxine, thank you. Himeji Castle is an amazing place and you’ll love it if you ever get the chance to see it. It was designed to resemble a white heron in flight. It was also designed to be impervious to attack. (The latter has never been tried.) Thanks for stopping by.

FredTownWard - February 6, 2013 - 8:17 am

“…the Portguese brought Christianity and guns to Japan. The Japanese of that time found the combination interesting.”

I’ll bet a lot of your readers will find it “interesting” as well, but as you no doubt know better than most, Christianity has at various times and places been a warrior religion, and I don’t mean simply as the excuse which nominally “Christian” thugs have used to kill people and take their stuff although that has also happened.

One of those significant historical cases was during the American Revolution. I doubt that it is taught much anymore, but once upon a time it was widely recognized that America’s patriot preachers were largely responsible for the Revolution, having sermonized on all of the rights we claimed, inspired their congregations to take up arms, and in such numbers as must astonish us of today, loaded their rifles and LEAD their congregations into battle. Unlike modern military chaplains, they “fought and preached alternately” as the situation demanded. The British who recognized their role as chief troublemakers, singled them out for special punishment: church burning, harsher treatment than other prisoners, and in some cases: torture, murder, even murder of their whole families:

DT Krippene - February 6, 2013 - 9:11 am

Good post, Walt. Having lived in Singapore and Taiwan for ten years, the Eastern mystique is definitely in my blood. Asian culture in all its many facets, from Southeast Asia to China, is rich with a history most people don’t know about. I’m glad your sojourn to Japan enticed your muse to create a story from its vibrant history. FYI, Shogun is on my all time top-ten list of great books. Must have read it six times.

Debbie Kaufman - February 6, 2013 - 9:23 am

Walt, I really believe that your stories are just waiting for a publisher to step outside their box! I remember Orlando RWA where I heard the following phrase over and over again: “Could you set that story somewhere else?” HA! Like I should move my Liberian cannibals to where? The old west? LOL. Your stories’ time will come :)

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 10:09 am

Fred, I am not as familiar with the black-robed regiment portion of American history as I should be. (I’m ashamed to admit that.) However, the Christian samurai in Japan were as fearless as the non-Christian ones. (Japan expert Dr. Stephen Turnbull provides some great information on this topic in his book, The Samurai and the Sacred. The chapter is titled “Onward Christian Samurai.”) One of the most interesting reactions to Christian samurai in Japan came from Oda Nobunaga, one of the three leaders credited with unifying the country. Japanese people have told me that Nobunaga liked the new Christian sect. My impression from what I’ve read is that Nobunaga liked the fact that the Christians really annoyed the militant Buddhist sects of the time.

Thanks for stopping by and for the link to the black robe regiment.

(For those interested in Japanese history and culture, Oda is the family name and Nobunaga the first name. Last name first is the traditional way to write someone’s name in Japanese.)

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 10:16 am

Jeannie, thank you. I tell my wife all the time that her origami is beautiful, but she rarely believes me.

I don’t know how to tell you to get that tile, but you may be able to find a daruma doll where you live. Look for any Asian groecery store large enough to carry a significant assortment of non-food items. They might carry it at various times during the year. (Also, if you’re ever in California, you can definitely find them in the Los Angeles area (Gardena, I think). That’s where I got the one shown in the picture.)

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 11:00 am

DT, I love Shogun and use it as a reference. (I also have it on DVD. My kids love it.) The reason I use it for reference is that it is a wonderful example of how far the envelope can be pushed in presenitng the culture in a way that is accessible to people not familiar with it.

Debbie, thank you. I will be at RWA this year and will do everything I can. :-)

M.V. Freeman - February 6, 2013 - 11:41 am

Walt–I adore history and I find it fascinating. I think that is very interesting story about the cross and it sparks my imagination. I’ve had an interest in Asian culture. I am hoping good things for you!

Love that kissing ball—beautiful!

Linda glaz - February 6, 2013 - 1:08 pm

Great post, Walt. Stuff I didn’t know about japan. And the book sounds very intriguing.

Tina Radcliffe - February 6, 2013 - 1:18 pm

This is really fascinating, Walt. I love the Daruma doll. I want one!!!

Myra Johnson - February 6, 2013 - 1:20 pm

Hi, Walt! Nice to learn a little more about how you became interested in writing about Japan. I was hooked on both the movie Shogun and the novel–just fascinating! Here’s hoping you’ll be blackening your Daruma doll’s other eye in the very near future.

And I agree–your wife’s kissing ball is beautiful!

Missy Tippens - February 6, 2013 - 1:47 pm

Great post, Walt. I love the photo of the cross tile. Keep up with the great stories. I believe you’re going to be putting that other eye on your doll before long!

I’d love to be entered for the drawing for your wife’s beautiful kissing ball!

Mary Connealy - February 6, 2013 - 2:02 pm

OH Hot Tamales…oops. I read it as hottamales and thought it said Hot Males.
Never mind.

Pam Hillman - February 6, 2013 - 2:10 pm

Fascinating! Really enjoyed this, Walt. Keep your permanent marker handy to add that black eye to your Daruma doll! .)

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 2:18 pm

Mary, I love history, too. Often, though, I will get facts mixed up in my head and it drives me nuts.

Linda, my pastor once referred to Japanese Christians from this time period as the last great unknown martyrs. Little is known about them. There is one high-level samurai from that time period, Takayama Ukon, who was exiled to the Philippines. There’s a statue of him in the Philippines that survives even today ( The most amazing thing about that is that the statue survivied WWII.

Tina and Myra, I really like my daruma doll, though it’s currently in the possession of a nephew who borrowed it for a school project. I have one other doll that has both eyes blackened, representing the first time I got paid for anything I wrote (magazine article)

cara lynn james - February 6, 2013 - 2:19 pm

Hi, Walt! The kissing ball is beautiful!

My husband was stationed in Japan years ago and brought back 2 silk screens which are hanging up in our living room and dining room. Yesterday he finished making a new case for our 2 large Samarai (sorry, I can’t spell) warrior dolls.

I’d love to read stories with a Japanese setting although I don’t see many of them. I hope your books find a great home soon!

Debby Giusti - February 6, 2013 - 2:28 pm

Great blog today, Walt! You know I love Japan and have such wonderful memories of my childhood when I lived there.

Your wife’s origami is beautiful. Such an intricate and graceful art. Tell her I said hello!

The cross on Himeji Castle has to be the hand of God. Fascinating.

Did you know that Paul Miki and 25 of his companions suffered crucifixion in Nagasaki on the vigil of this day in 1597? We talked about them at church this morning. Such courageous followers of Christ.

Keep writing your stories about the persecution of Japanese Christians. Their stories need to be told, and they will sell.

Janet Dean - February 6, 2013 - 2:28 pm

Walt, loved learning how you got interested in your stories’ setting. The Daruma doll is adorable and will one day have two eyes. Never doubt it!

Ruth Logan Herne - February 6, 2013 - 2:32 pm

Walt, this is fascinating. I feel so stinkin’ sheltered while a huge world spins around me…. Thank you for sharing this! And Deb, I didn’t realize that today was the anniversary of that crucifixion. Can you imagine being part of that sorrowed helplessness?

We are truly blessed.

Walt, bless you! Keep working… finish, finish, finish!!! And I can’t wait to buy your first book my friend!


Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 2:41 pm

Missy, one odd thing about the cross tile pertains specifically to me. I’ve visited Himeji Castle many times. I don’t remember seeing that cross tile until my visit in the summer of 2008. By that fall, I was discussing the outline of Japan-based story with Debby Giusti. Now it’s a series (though the stories are stand-alone).

Mary C., LOL! Hot males. Me. There should have been a disconnect there somewhere. :-)

Pam, their are black markers all over the house, ready for the day. (Now, if I can only get it back from my nephew. However, his school prject was just last week.)

Carol Moncado - February 6, 2013 - 2:42 pm

Fascinating, Walt! I agree with the poster above that there’s a publisher out there waiting to step out of the box. For one, I can’t wait to read it!


Mary Connealy - February 6, 2013 - 2:50 pm

What a great seed for a book. I love that a cross somehow survived. Wonderful post, Walt.

Anonymous - February 6, 2013 - 2:55 pm

A Kissing Ball??? Oh, man, Walt — do you know how to tempt romance writers or what??? Let Tina keep the Daruma Doll — I want the kissing ball!! :)

Soooo fun to hear more of your background, my friend, and the Shogun time period (or ten years prior) sounds reallllly fascinating too!! Like Ruthy, I will be one of the many first in line for the book!


Tamara LeBlanc - February 6, 2013 - 2:59 pm

I’m jealous. Japan is a place I’d love to see one day. I’m not so much into the city scene, but the ancient history the country has to offer. I bet you and your family have a wonderful time visiting family and friends in such an exotic locale.
I saw Shogun when I was a kid. I don’t really remember much about it. But I saw The Last Samurai in the theatre and I actually watch it practically every time its replayed on cable. I love that movie, the people it portrays and the enviroment they live in is something special.
I’m looking forward to seeing The Samurai’s Heart in print, Walt. Best of luck to you in reaching your goals.
And I also wanted to say that the kissing ball your wife made is beautiful. She’s very talented.
Thanks for the post!
Have a great week,

Julie Lessman - February 6, 2013 - 3:00 pm

Hey, Walt,

WHOOPS … WordPress is apparently acting like blogger and eating comments, so let’s try this again …

A kissing ball??? Oh, honey — Tina can have the Daruma doll, I’ll take the kissing ball ANY day of the week!! You sure know how to suck romance writers in, my friend!!

And you just say “Shogun,” and I feel a rush because that whole era and civilization fascinates me to no end, so like Ruthy, I will be one of the first in line for your book.


Debbie Lynne Costello - February 6, 2013 - 3:02 pm

What a neat story. That is so very cool that both your children have duel citizenship. My son loves anything Japanese. His dream is to hike across Japan with a back pack and his father. Looking forward to you getting published. Best wishes.

Sandra Ardoin - February 6, 2013 - 3:15 pm

I always find the history of a book idea fascinating. Thanks for sharing that “history mystery,” Walt.

Myra Johnson - February 6, 2013 - 3:16 pm

Leave it to Mary to be looking for HOT MALES!

Darlene Buchholz - February 6, 2013 - 3:29 pm

Loved the intrigue of how the cross survived a time when anything Christian was forbidden in Japan. I agree with Debby–your novel will find a good home. Christian readers want to know about the missionary work in foreign lands and many modern Japanese are open to the Christian message of hope. Keep putting out the Good News!

Tina Radcliffe - February 6, 2013 - 3:38 pm

Walt, what else might a kissing ball be used for? Is it like mistletoe?

Connie Gillam - February 6, 2013 - 3:54 pm

I remembered reading Shogun many years ago and loving it. As Walt knows, my husband teaches Japanese history. Living with a historian is like being in the classroom everyday. He never gets tired of talking about it, so I’m always learning.

I’m looking forward to visiting Japan.
Thanks for letting us your inspirational story.

Carol Burnside - February 6, 2013 - 3:54 pm

Walt, I love your statement, “I believe in the stories I’m telling.” Keep the faith in them and they will find an audience. Too often these days rejection is not because the stories are bad, but because they don’t fit a narrow list of guidelines. I think the premise is intriguing. Best of luck!

Carol Burnside - February 6, 2013 - 3:55 pm

Forgot to say your wife made a lovely kissing ball. How appropos for a romance writing site!

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 4:13 pm

Wow! Lots of questions! :-)

Cara, I didn’t know your husband was stationed in Japan. What city was he in? Also, on Japanese settings, most Japanese stories are part of a series. Where you have one, you have at least three. Mysteries work well. (St. Martins is putting out a 16th century Japan-based mystery series this summer.) Shogun would seem to be an exception, though it’s part of a Asian saga series by Clavell.

Debbie, I was aware of the crucifixion of the martyrs in Nagasaki but forgot the anniversary was yesterday (and the Feast day is today). I recently acquired a copy of Endo Shusaku’s “Silence,” which is a story based on that event. I’l be learning more soon.

Janet, I do hope the daruma will have two blackened eyes some day. (Then, I’ll probaly set another goal and get another daruma.)

Ruthy, my word of the year is “FINISH.” I’ll keep at it.

Debby Giusti - February 6, 2013 - 4:13 pm

Waving to Connie Gillam…

I didn’t know your hubby taught Japanese history too! I knew he was an expert on Vietnam. Fascinating.

I’ve brought green tea and rice cakes to celebrate Walt’s stories! Enjoy! :-)

Sandy Elzie - February 6, 2013 - 4:16 pm

Thanks so much for joining us today. I thoroughly enjoyed reading how your book idea came about…it’s totally fascinating. As to publishing…your day will come. Keep writing…and trust in His timing…and you’ll get to blacken the other eye.

Tell Mo that her Kissing Ball is stunning. (I also own one of her Christmas ornaments & everyone comments on it) And like several others who have already commented…I want a Daruma doll !!!

Pepper - February 6, 2013 - 4:24 pm

I absolutely LOVE the inspiration behind your story. WOW! What an amazing story.
Can’t wait until you give that doll a black eye :-)

Janet Dean - February 6, 2013 - 4:25 pm

Walt, I can just see you posing in front of a shelf lined up with two-eyed daruma dolls. Love the image!


Tina Radcliffe - February 6, 2013 - 4:30 pm

Well, I actually like the idea of a Daruma for every goal.

Walt, you have inspired me today.

Blackening those eyes sounds like fun. Better than stars on a calendar.

Wishing you many, many Daruma dolls.

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 4:31 pm

Carol M., thank you. I hope so. However, I’m working on stories outside of that era (though one of them is still related to Japanese Christians) in the meantime.

Mary C., the reason it supposedly survived is that it is a tribute to a former owner of the castle and also because there were Christians on the committee that oversaw the castle’s reconstruction/remodel in the early 17th century.

Tamara, thank you for your kind comments about both me and my wife. Your comment on the The Last Samurai reminds me of the first contest I ever entered. One of my judges told me that my entry wasn’t enough like The Last Samurai. My first reaction was “Well, there’s about three centuries difference.” However, I came to understand that I had not done a good enough job as a writer to bring the reader into the Shogun century. Hopefully, I’ve improved since then.

Julie and Tina, I’m glad you like the kissing ball. I call it Japanese mistletoe, as that’s when we display it at our house. However, I understand it can be used at weddings among other occasions.

Debbie C., I wish your son the best in hiking across Japan. I traveled many places while I was there and can’t wait to go back.

Sandra, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I find the stories about what creates a book idea interesting also.

Angie - February 6, 2013 - 4:32 pm

Love the story of the Daruma doll. To have that poor little one-eyed doll looking at me all year would certainly be an incentive to reach my goal. :-)

Thanks for sharing your story!

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 4:43 pm

Darlene, another amazing thing is that the faith in Japan survived underground. When the first foreigners started returning (after Perry’s ships opened the country in the 19th century), they discovered that the faith had evolved into pretty much its own branch. (The “kakure” (hidden) Christians did not merge with the Catholic church after they were discovered.)

A special shout to Connie, who’s husband read my manuscript. The big thing I learned from him was that I had done nothing to preface my manuscript for someone like him who has the knowledge of the culture. It was eye opening.

Carol, I keep telling my wife that her origami is amazing, but she doesn’t believe me.

Debby, thanks for green tea. It’s always appreciated (and I’m one of the few Southerners that doesn’t drink sweet or unsweet tea).

Sandy and Pepper, yes, I’m definitely looking forward to the day where I can blacken that doll’s other eye.

Janet, the doll above is my second one. I hope to have a rack of them in the future.

Vince - February 6, 2013 - 5:07 pm

Hi Walt:

I just bought a Japanese Daruma Bodhidharma in beautiful red porcelain on Ebay. It should be here in 13 days. I mean, what writer would want not one of these? I think I got the last one from this seller but there are more sellers.

Keep writing those books. When one sells, the editor will be asking for more.

I read your novella in the Christmas anthology titled, Hot Cocoa for the Heart . That story shows you can really write well and all the other novellas in that collection were also excellent. The editor was skilled at selecting quality material.

BTW: one of my students has an Japaneese wife and she got him to move back to Japan. Well, she would make me little origami birds and butterflies. (I think her name in Japanese is butterfly. I think is was Heromi). They were only an inch or two in size but you could tell they were real works of art. Is origami one of those skills Japanese women are supposed to have?

I was hooked on Shogun. I could not believe the Jesuits were there so early and were allowed to preach. For years I was reading whatever I could find about Japan. Your book could be like Commodore Perry and open Japan to romance readers! Think epic. :-D


Debby Giusti - February 6, 2013 - 5:07 pm

I can see it now, Walt!

When your first book sells and then your second one and then…
You get the idea.

You can have a blog contest for stories that feature a Daruma doll. Wouldn’t that be fun!

I’d write a suspense…perhaps including a stolen Daruma.
Mary Conneally would write about an Old West Daruma doll unearthed in a mine.
Missy would have her Daruma sitting in the window of a bakery off the main town square.

Julie Steele - February 6, 2013 - 5:23 pm

That is the coolest thing about the doll, Walt.

I knew, from you, about some but not all of the history.

Great post and look forward to seeing your stories in print one day. Keep the faith!

Peace, Julie

Ruthy Logan Herne - February 6, 2013 - 5:45 pm

I knew what your word was… That way I can pester you about it. My husband says I’m a very good PESTERER. :)

I prefer tenacious.

Hey, you’ve got quite the following here, guys. What a great blog post and awesome traffic. Not surprising in the least!

Mary Curry - February 6, 2013 - 6:07 pm

Walt this was a fascinating post. It’s also amazing to me that you posted it today. At Mass this morning, our pastor was preaching about the martyrs whose feast day is celebrated today.

Here’s a description I found:

St. Paul Miki and Companions Feast Day — February 6

In 1597, Fr. Paul Miki, twenty-two other men, and three boys were martyred for their faith on a hill in Nagasaki, Japan. Paul was a Jesuit priest who was born in Japan. He was known as a famous preacher. His companions were two other Jesuit priests, six Franciscan priests, seventeen lay people, including catechists, a doctor, cook, carpenter, and a translator, and three altar boys.

Best of luck to you on your publishing journey.

Mary Curry - February 6, 2013 - 6:13 pm

LOL I should read through the comments first. I see Debby beat me to it about today’s feast day.


Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 6:31 pm

Debby, I like that. In my case, my heroine in my Americana WIP carries a daruma that she brought with her from Japan. One of the eyes has been blackened. The other eye will be blackened when she locates her father.

Mary Connealy - February 6, 2013 - 6:33 pm

Walt this is extra special to me because my daughter was just in China.

Mary Connealy - February 6, 2013 - 6:34 pm

China and Japan are pretty much the same, right? :-D

Darlene Buchholz - February 6, 2013 - 6:45 pm

Yes, Walt, I did know that the Christianity that survived in a very few rural places in Japan hardly resembled anything of the original Catholic faith brought to them. But still, something they learned about a faithful God made them cling to the message of Love, against the will of powerful emperors. You can tell this story because your knowledge and love of Japan is authentic. Write more!!

Susan Carlisle - February 6, 2013 - 7:00 pm


I know almost nothing about the Japanese culture so I loved you post. Interesting. Doll is a wonderful idea for goal reaching. Thanks for visiting with us today.
War Eagle!!

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 7:07 pm

Mary, every country in that section of the world inherits something from China.

However, that does remind me of an incident from my family’s last Japan trip. We visited Kiyomizu-dera (Kiyomizu Temple) in Kyoto. Some of the structures on the grounds are orange. It reminded my boys of the movie Kung Fu Panda. When they saw the orange structure, my boys’ reaction was “Are we in China?”

Darlene, I learned a lot about the hidden Christians recently. Last year, a professor in Kyoto put out a fascinating book on them. (In Search of Japan’s Hidden Christians: A Story of Suppression, Secrecy and Survival by John Dougill). I was able to exchange a few e-mails with the author and what I’ve learned is providing me with impetus for future stories.

Debby Giusti - February 6, 2013 - 8:59 pm

Walt, what you’ve learned recently about Japan and the faithful Christians only underscores that you SHOULD…you NEED to write these stories!!!

Debby Giusti - February 6, 2013 - 9:01 pm

Waving to Mary Curry.

Interesting that we both heard about the Japanese martyrs on the day Walt posts this blog.

Go God!

There are no coincidences. Only God-incidences. :-)

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 9:06 pm

Tina, I was in L.A. in December. I should have gotten more dolls. (I bought research books, but those are good, too.) Hopefully, my in-laws will send me more.

Angie, glad you enjoyed it. The doll was actually modeled after a somewhat gross story about a monk who supposedly got mad at himself for falling asleep during a nine-year meditation. He made it so that he would never fall asleep again.

Vince, thanks for the comments on my stories. That’s a very nice story about the butterflies.

The Jesuits were let in because they came with the Portuguese and the Portuguese brought money and guns and their presence fit into the politics of the time. The Japanese rulers were calculating.

Mary Curry, everybody’s heard of Nagasaki for one reason. Most don’t know about the crucifixions. The Japanese weren’t trying to draw a parallel with Christ. Crucifixion was just the preferred method of execution (unless the person was able to or allowed to take their own lives).

Julie and Vince, I’m the only writer I know that uses a daruma doll, though I’m sure a lot of writers in Japan do.

Walt Mussell - February 6, 2013 - 9:12 pm

Susan, thanks for having me here. The team didn’t do too bad in recruiting today. War Eagle!

Debby and Mary (Curry), the timing is appropriate, though I’m sure it wasn’t on Sandy Elzie’s mind when she scheduled me.

Linsey Lanier - February 7, 2013 - 8:10 am

Walt, thanks so much for being with us and sharing your story. I got goosebumps reading about the background for The Samurai’s Heart. I know there’s an audience out there who will love it. :)

Hildie McQueen - February 7, 2013 - 9:29 am

Very Interesting Walt, I love learning new things about people. My youngest daughter is married to an Airman and they are moving to Japan. I’m looking forward to going there to visit. It seems to be a beautiful country.

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