I am a Southern woman – born and bred in the south but with deep roots travelling all the way to Japan. This blog started out as a general blog – recipes, musing, poetry. This is a South Meets East Blog.  It has since evolved into poetry.  I have been writing poetry since I was six.  Mostly very bad poetry.

I love Japan and all that is involved with it – the aesthetics, the culture, the love of nature.  Much of my poetry is centered in nature.  I specialize in Japanese forms but – I divert into different styles, different emotions.  I am a world traveler having been to Japan several times, even helping to plant rice. southese east Asia is my favorite place  – Hanoi, Hong Kong, Japan, Shanghai, Laos, Thailand.

I hope you will find poetry that gives you pleasure, makes you cry, causes anger in your soul.

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom… is realizing how small I am, and unwise and how far I have yet to go.”  Anthony Bourdain

The name of my blog:   “The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life. [With his dying breath] Perfect… They are all… perfect”… Katsumoto, The Last Samurai

Japanese Aesthetics:
Mono no Aware – the pathos of things
Wabi: Subdued, Austere Beauty
Yūgen: Mysterious Grace
Iki: Refined Style
Kire: Cutting
Enso: absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and mu (the void).

Kanzensakura or Kanzen Sakura – perfect cherry blossom, perfection

202 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jhanagan2014
    Dec 11, 2014 @ 09:47:54

    I found you by following john Flanagan’s blog. Your interests, values, and words give me the feeling of taidaima.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 11, 2014 @ 10:35:33

      Okaerinasai. I am so glad you visited and hope you will always feel welcomed. Thank you for following my odd little blog. It goes in spits and spurts of recipes, poetry, musings….I also have a poetry only website: aki no koe I do like the picture of you and the lovely lady by the cherry trees. A dear friend of mine is from Osaka and taught me the proper way to prepare okonomiyaki. Osaka has good food!


  2. Mary Kendall
    Dec 13, 2014 @ 16:24:50

    What a lovely “About” page you’ve written here. I can feel the southernness in your writing, and I look forward to exploring your blog at leisure.


  3. lightwalker1
    Jan 13, 2015 @ 21:01:06

    You are right, you have a very friendly and welcoming voice. Your blog entices me to read more of the recipes, about yourself and getting to know you better. I look forward to learning more from you as I look around. In love & light Cheryle


  4. Victoria C. Slotto
    Feb 10, 2015 @ 19:23:20

    I’m smiling, little Southern lady. You and your blog are a delight. So glad you are a part of my poetry world.


  5. Arwa
    Feb 15, 2015 @ 15:09:39

    Hi. I nominated you to the Liebster award


    • kanzensakura
      Feb 15, 2015 @ 15:59:40

      Thank you very much for your nomination. My blog is a “no award” site. I do not accept awards but I do thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness in awarding it to me.


  6. lightwalker1
    Feb 18, 2015 @ 01:29:17

    I have nominated you and your blog for the Versatile Bloggers Award. I have appreciated your visits and comments and have enjoyed my visits to your site and hope others will too. You can view the nomination and the award criteria here. https://lightwalker1.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/versatile-blogger-award/ In love and light Cheryle

    P.S I’m not sure if you are award free because you decline them or have not been nominated. I apologize if it is the former. Kindest Regards Cheryle


    • kanzensakura
      Feb 18, 2015 @ 04:19:30

      No need to apologize. I have been nominated for several awards but last year, decided to stop accepting them and spend more time recommending and reblogging, and being a good neighbor and visiting other sites and commenting. I truly do thank you for nominating me. I have enjoyed your blog very much and your visits. It is very kind of you to think of me! The only award I have kept and post is the inner Peace award, in honor of my father. My friend Clowie, at Clowie’s Corner, she is a Great Pyrhnees Mountain Dog, gave it to me because she said it was how she felt when she visited. I also keep it to remind me of why I blog and how we touch people in so many important ways. Blessings to you! PS I will do the blog tour things though in lieu of awards. That’s not a hint, LOL.


      • lightwalker1
        Feb 18, 2015 @ 12:42:31

        thank you for replying so graciously. I understand. I have come to see how labour intensive these awards can be. Your friend Clowie sounds as loving as you. In love and light Cheryle


        • kanzensakura
          Feb 18, 2015 @ 12:49:08

          I try to be kind to every one. I one time mistakenly (didn’t see or understand about no awards_ nominated someone for an award. You would have thought I had called her a bad name, she was so ugly about it and it hurt. I’m not bragging, but at that time, I was getting all kinds of nominations which I truly did appreciate and made me feel special. But between that unkind person and all the work, I decided to let them go. And that was just me. I think the nominating each other is a great way to build friendships, let other people know about other blogs they may have missed, a way to spread some cheer in this sometimes cheerless world. I am glad you are getting into these awards and getting nominations. Don’t forget to post on your blog or make a menu item so others comeing to your site can see them! We all have so much to share with each other. Keep up the good work.


        • kanzensakura
          Feb 18, 2015 @ 12:52:04

          PS I think Clowie has moved from WP to another blogging platform, but I still get her posts via email. If you get a chance, check her out or on FB. She is a sweetie and has quite a few adventures, especially with her “bi-peds” and cats.


  7. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Mar 03, 2015 @ 07:37:47

    Hello Kanzen.. could you please send men an email on brudberg@gmail.com


  8. Hannah Gosselin
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 14:41:45

    So glad to have crossed poetic paths with you! Your authenticity shines! ♥


  9. dani
    Mar 10, 2015 @ 08:31:30

    i am so pleased to meet you, Kanzen! thank you for all of your kind words on my blog ~ we do have much in common from the mixture of what we write to our love of cooking and, as you say, being a bit twisted and eccentric (though i am sometimes downright strange.) {smile}

    please forgive me if my visits are brief or infrequent as my online time is limited, but i promise you i will be back as often as i can.


    • dani
      Mar 10, 2015 @ 08:33:47

      oh, and i’m a big fan of science fiction (particularly books), Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter (the books, not so much the movies) and all things hobbit.


  10. Lerene Forte
    Mar 19, 2015 @ 01:02:49

    Addams Family with a drawl–Hilarious!! We do have some things in common–love of cooking, haiku and other poetry, and I have some southern roots too (though they may be more Faulknerian). Nice to meet y’all.


  11. dilipnaidu
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 11:11:16

    Very interesting introduction. It is good to visit and understand different country cultures as it opens our mind and we learn to accept different perspectives. Wish you all the best.


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 23, 2015 @ 11:21:58

      Thank you for your kind comment. I always like learning about different cultures and countries myself. We Southerners are naturally curious about our neighbors, no where they are! Thank you for visiting. I hope you will visit often and always feel welcomed.


  12. Éilis Niamh
    May 10, 2015 @ 18:36:03

    I nominated you for a freestyle writing blog challenge. It’s fun, and maybe, unlike me, yours will be super interesting too! https://thesoundofwhathappens.wordpress.com/2015/05/10/free-style-writing-challenge/


  13. Victoria C. Slotto
    Jun 05, 2015 @ 14:05:55

    I don’t (can’t) follow many blogs because of time constraints, but have added yours. I have a great appreciation of fiction writers from the South and just listened to a lecture on Japanese poetry and was really a draw. It was rather weird because it resonated so much it had me thinking that perhaps I was Japanese in a previous life…though I’m not sure about reincarnation. Ha!


    • kanzensakura
      Jun 06, 2015 @ 21:36:38

      I have had to cut back on the ones I do follow, also because of time constraints. I thank you for following mine. I too felt that connection with the Japanese. The first time I went to Japan, I felt at home. Absorbed their culture, aesthetics, etc like a sponge and always enjoyed being there. I haven’t been for several years and feel a bit homesick, if that makes sense. I hope you will enjoy my blog. It is a mish-mash of South and East, including the recipes I post. Folks have fun and that is important to me.


  14. Poetry by Tosh
    Jun 28, 2015 @ 21:42:04

    I love the contrast of south meets west. I’m imagining sitting under cherry blossom trees eating fried chicken and drinking sake… Enjoying your writing!


  15. SalvaVenia
    Jul 09, 2015 @ 18:28:34

    Addams Family made me smile … :mrgreen:

    Greetings from Germany,


    Jul 13, 2015 @ 17:03:37

    Toni, I wanted to stop by and let you know that my blogs are currently Private, which only means I’m not working them–so there’s no need for you to request permission to read, IF you were intending to do that, as I’m not responding to requests. Not sure when/If I’ll be back–things are really BAD at the moment. But I’m keeping you and your husband in my prayers–and could sure use yours as well. God bless you ~~ Dell


    • kanzensakura
      Jul 13, 2015 @ 17:12:13

      I am so sorry to hear this. Your presence will be miised. Other than prayers, let me know if I can help. My email is thspencer51@hotmail.com if you want/need to talk. I’ve lost three dear to me this year and don’t want you to be a 4th. Please keep in touch dearheart. ♡♡♡


  17. petrujviljoen
    Oct 18, 2015 @ 06:18:05

    America in the South. Howdy!


  18. Sherry Marr
    Nov 04, 2015 @ 16:02:57

    kanzen, would you please email me at WildWoman2@shaw.ca ? I have something to ask you. Thanks, kiddo!


  19. Cherie - Studio Thoughts
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 10:47:59

    So glad to have come across your blog. Your fluidity of words and thoughts is a pleasure to read… can’t wait for more.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 08, 2015 @ 10:56:22

      Thank you so very much! My site has morphed into mainly poetry but there are still lots of recipes and musings in the archives. I hope you will visit often. Again, thank you.


  20. Michelle Adam
    Feb 06, 2016 @ 23:48:55

    I enjoyed discovering your blog and look forward to more beautiful posts. You may be interested in my Journey of Spirit and Healing Blog, http://www.michadam.wordpress.com, which tells my journey behind the writing of my upcoming novel, Child of Duende, which is about a German girl born in Spain who is imbued by the spirit of the earth. I imagine you may really enjoy this, given your blog. Blessings!


  21. Trackback: Unexpected Fall – A Reading Writer
  22. ladynyo
    Aug 22, 2016 @ 18:35:38

    ROTF!!!! I am Southern, too….for almost 50 years now in Atlanta. I come from the North country….rural NJ….5 miles from Princeton. A very long time ago.

    So! You definitely sound like a poet I would want to follow and read….and comment! So glad to find your blog.

    I am barely 5’2″ and a wakizashi would be a good thing for me, also. LOL!

    Jane (Lady Nyo….who has a lot of your adventures. Except photo for autopsy. That takes balls. Belly dancing was the closest I came to mostly naked bodies.)


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 22, 2016 @ 18:51:38

      I am glad you found my blog and hope you will enjoy. I have been wielding my wakizashi for nigh on to 30 years and take it very seriously, being a practioner and follower of bushido and the 10 commandments. It didn’t take any balls to do autopsy photography. It just took needing money (and making little off of food styling/food photography) back in the day, having a strong stomach and being able to follow instructions. I came upon it by accident one day while turning in a food shoot at the newspaper where I was a stringer. I attended a session along with 15 others and was one of two that didn’t pass out or barf. So we split several of the shifts between us. Back in the day before autopsies became so…scientific. LOL, one of the doctors would eat his lunch while working on a corpse – sandwiches, KFC usually. He’d perch the sandwich in its wrapper beside or on a leg or stomach of the corpse he was autopsying. Now that was rough to watch. An old lover of mine who came to forensics in the 90’s said it was barbaric. I guess. Considering it was up north, I mean, what can one expect? He was Japanese and furthered my education in the language, culture, etc. He also trained me in kendo and using a sword as a weapon. He was very good. never did belly dancing. too….wriggly for me but I certainly enjoyed watching it and be amazed at the movements.


  23. ladynyo
    Aug 22, 2016 @ 20:56:17

    LOL! The autopsy! Marvelous instruction you had there. LOL! Things certainly change. I was trained in karate, kung fu actually, or a mixture of this. My husband was taught by a disciple of Bruce Lee back in the day. But he went on to different disciplines. I didn’t get very far…..a couple of belts but I think it is a wonderful discipline , especially for women. I am fascinated by Yamabushi, and am a follower of Shinto. New, but not so new. I have resolved religious/spiritual conflicts in this belief system. I am writing a lot on Yamabushi, and a Tengu (one of my very favorite mythological characters ….but are Tengu really mythological???) figured heavily in both my novel (in rewrite) “Kimono” and “Song of the Nightingale”. LOL!

    Kendo: marvelous! I have great respect for this discipline. I have been in workshops of longbow, but it’s a very stark discipline. I was in biochem. for a short while at Emory University here in Atlanta and there was a wonderful Japanese man who took my fencing foils and did a marvelous ‘dance’ in an elevator. He was so instructive…not in biochem, which he was, but in sword work. I could watch him for hours. Tragically, his wife accidently shot and killed him with a hunting rifle. I couldn’t believe it. That man had such vitality.

    I think, if we allow it, there are many influential people who enter our lives for long and short times. and if we listen and attend, we are much the richer for it. And when they are Japanese, I am definitely listening. My Japanese is terrible, but the sushi counter at Whole Foods are all ears and nice ones, too. LOL! They are a wonderful people.


  24. Shawna
    Aug 26, 2016 @ 09:26:52

    This may be the best “About” page I’ve ever read. Fantastic writing and fascinating life story.


  25. ladynyo
    Jan 31, 2017 @ 11:21:12

    Reading this before, I fell in love with you, Toni. Reading this again, I fell even deeper in love this morning…may your vitality infect the world!


  26. Edward Hotspur
    Feb 17, 2017 @ 16:42:09

    Hello! Long time no see, or visit. Just slowly coming back to this blog land, and looking up friends I used to love talking to and reading, and there you were. 🙂 How have you been?


  27. Jade M. Wong
    Aug 02, 2017 @ 11:19:43

    You got me at “fried chicken and sushi”! Hello! It’s lovely to meet you 😀


  28. Sarah Russell
    Dec 13, 2017 @ 02:06:46

    Hunting your site today for a contact email with no results. I have a question about a Japanese word/phrase I’m using in a poem and need your expertise. My email is denversrh@gmail.com. Thanks, Toni.


  29. julespaige
    Dec 17, 2017 @ 19:45:41

    Also a Trekker and Sci Fi fan. Humor is a must.
    And sometimes stopping at one…haiku is just not something I can do 😉
    Cheers from SW, PA – USA.
    Bookmarked your place. Thanks for stopping by.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 17, 2017 @ 19:53:49

      Thank you for visiting my page. Haiku is one of the most difficult forms to write, if one writes it correctly. I’ve been writing them for many years and am satisfied with the results about 40 % of the time.

      Get Outlook for Android



      • julespaige
        Dec 17, 2017 @ 20:02:04

        I write what I like.. have been for over 45 years.
        I started writing when I was about 10… anyway. I don’t belong to any societies… because I think most wouldn’t like my ‘free spirit’.

        I like American haiku, but I dabble in many short forms. I rarely edit or change after the first go … but that’s just me. I know some who live to edit and revise.

        I found Frank T’s new prompt… so I’m off to look at it. Cheers … and stay warm 🙂


        • kanzensakura
          Dec 17, 2017 @ 21:02:36

          As poets are free spirits to start with, I can’t think of anyone who would object. However, when visiting sites and writing to prompts on the sites, it is good to follow the instructions on the site. I do not accept “American” haiku unless you mean haiku written in English or American sentences. I think about poems in my head before I write it down. I want my words to mean as much as possible and sometimes there is some revision necessary. Sometimes not. Rules for certain kinds of poetry keep poems from all being identical sentences of meaning.

          Get Outlook for Android



          • julespaige
            Dec 18, 2017 @ 07:24:06

            I do try to follow the prompt directions. But haiku is a tricky bit since it doesn’t translate well. And 5, 7, 5 count of American haiku isn’t really traditional at all to the Japanese structure. So yes, that is what I mean by American haiku which now also accepts less restraints in counting syllables – in some schools of thought. 🙂


  30. annell4
    Mar 05, 2018 @ 09:32:33

    I have “fallen in love” with your writing. When I read your writing, I feel you have written for me alone. Thank you so much. I also love all things Japanese, and hope to go there again someday. I am also from the South, the third coast which is Texas.
    You enrich my life! Trust that you are very special! It is all a matter of “view.”


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 07, 2018 @ 12:41:21

      Thank you so much for this extremely kind and !lovely comment. I am humbled that an excellent artist and poet should like my writing. I am just now getting caught up on responding to comments. Your words make me so happy that you took the time to tell me this. It is unusual to find a Japanophile, much less one such as yourself. When I write not only do I write for myself, I write for that one person who enjoys and appreciates my words. You have greatly enriched my life by your words, not only here but in your writing as wel!. I admit to suffering from chronic depression, the more so since my mother’s death in June. You have given my spirits such a lift by your kindness. God bless you for that! You are a Southern woman as well. I am so happy to learn this. You are an outstanding artist as well using your words to paint as well as your co!ours. Again thank you from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to reading your words in the future but all the more so because I will be reading the words of a friend. Thank you. Thank you.


  31. Pat: willow88switches
    Aug 17, 2018 @ 10:42:42

    I just wanted to say “hi” – I don’t recall your About page from before (although I’m pretty sure I read it way long ago) …. anyhow, updated- it’s lovely. Truly.

    And I have to say, I’ve always loved the phrase Mono no Aware – it’s just so resounding and resonating.

    Cheers Toni!


    • kanzensakura
      Aug 17, 2018 @ 11:03:06

      Hi Pat! I THINK you are the only person who checked it out.

      Get Outlook for Android



      • Pat: willow88switches
        Aug 17, 2018 @ 11:11:33

        well, I was curious! and wanted to let you know I did stop in (personally, I hate writing for an “about” page – drives me nuts) … so when I read ones that are as unique and special as yours, I find it inspiring, and a little window into the “behind the scenes” (sort of).


  32. Frank J. Tassone
    Aug 17, 2018 @ 16:33:56

    A beautiful rewrite, Toni. Although I do miss your line about “South meets East.” 😉


  33. Anonymous
    Mar 11, 2019 @ 12:20:45

    Hi, I’m looking West for someone too.


  34. Zest4Food
    Jul 13, 2019 @ 16:12:45

    Hi, I came across your blog. Great work! Interesting content. I enjoy to read blogs from people around the world and different cultures. I am a food blogger from Canada, and I invite you to visit/follow my blog at: https://zest4foodblog.wordpress.com Cheers, Angelika


  35. lillian
    Dec 12, 2019 @ 13:40:54

    Toni: Thought I would put this comment here….rather than where daily dVerse folks read. We will be in CA the months of January and February. I can’t recall where you live? Are you in CA?


  36. Anonymous
    Apr 03, 2020 @ 08:30:09

    Hello, we would like to use a picture for a book cover. Unfortunately we cannot find your contact details. How can we reach you?
    Gabriel Isuku


    • kanzensakura
      Apr 06, 2020 @ 22:18:46

      at my email. If it does not say copyright kanzensakura at the bottom of the pic or if it does not say copyright Toni Spence, it is probably a public domain photo. Which photo specifically are you referring?


  37. Joe Louie Lavaro
    Nov 09, 2020 @ 09:33:39

    Good day!
    My name is Joe Louie Lavaro, and I work as Acquisition Officer for Quipper Ltd. Philippines. I am writing to you to ask for your permission to acquire one of your literary works.
    You may email me at joelouie.lavaro@quipper.com.
    Thank you very much, and I hope to hear from you soon.


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