Posted in Uncategorized on June 25, 2014 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando


I find a Japanese toy from the 70’s when I am digging under my dad’s house. Just three parts of a magnetic robot bird. We used to call it a Micronaught. You can put the head of a bird on the body of a man. You can take the arms off the magnetic robot man and attach the wings of the magnetic robot bird to make a magnetic robot bird man. The possibilities are endless depending on how many Micronaughts you have. All you have to do is keep all the bits and pieces in the same place at the same time.

Our toys were stored under the house before our dad took them all to the tip in 1983. It was true we hadn’t played with them for a long time. If I had all those toys now, I could buy a house and a horse and a boat.


I crawl around under my dad’s house like a slater, or an earwig or a daddy long legs looking for the missing parts of the magnetic robot bird. All I find is an Abba card. And, even though it is quite damaged, I put it up on eBay straight away and get $17 paid straight into my PayPal account.

I dig for other missing parts on eBay. I get hundreds of hits for Micronaughts, but none of them have any relation to my particular magnetic robot bird I was given by a Japanese judo player in the early seventies.

I am not sure if I can make this bird whole again. Once a part of something is lost it is hard to get it all back together again. All I can do is assemble the parts that I have and imagine what it looked like way back then.


Thud, thud, thud like giant mutant monsters destroying Tokyo

What is that constant thud? Oh that is coming from the dojo in our back yard. That is the heavy thud of bodies hitting the tatami. Thud. Thud.

Whenever the Japanese judo players visit we get presents – Micronaughts and kimonos and salted fish and salted plums. Seaweed. We run all of the multicoloured fish kites up the flag pole to flap flap flap in the breeze.

Thud. Thud. Thud.


I still have a pair of his pyjamas

One time I was given a little plastic robot toy man by my dad’s sensei, Yoshiaki Shinojima. He treated me like a prince. He bought me a lot of lollies at the milk bar and attempted to give me serious advice about respecting my parents. He smoked a lot of menthol cigarettes and I still remember the smell of his pyjamas. He fought in some serious battles against Australia and New Zealand in New Guinea when he served in the Japanese army in World War II. And he owned two actual tigers that he kept back in his house in Japan. One of his tigers was called Tora, as in Tora, Tora, Tora.

I can’t remember what his other tiger’s name was. I do remember that Tora was on a Japanese stamp. I know my mother still has three of those stamps on a strip glued into an album in a box marked JAPAN 1970 stored in the roof of her house.


Mr Stinky

Mr Shinojima is visiting our house with a couple of his students from Japan. They are training with my father in the dojo for serious judo business. They spend a lot of time throwing each other to the ground with a loud thud. There is always the occasional audible groan or scream or yell in the morning or dead of night. Thud, thud, thud. They shake the foundations. They disrupt the reception of the TV each time they hit the tatami.

Nearly all of our toys are Japanese and we have no idea what they are or what they do or what they are called. We can’t read the instructions.

I ask one of the judo students about the little plastic robot man and Yukihiro says he is called Mr Stinky. The special power of Mr Stinky is stinking out his enemies.

Then Yukihiro sniffs at my t-shirt and holds his nose.

‘You are Mr Stinky,’ he says, handing Mr Stinky back to me in disgust.


Then later, at a Barbeque with all the Judo Boys from Bendigo and Nunawading,

Mr Shinojima is drinking Fosters with my dad and Yukihiro and I am playing with Mr Stinky.

Mr Shinojima asks me if I like his present and I say oh yes and my dad says –

‘What is it? What is it called?’

And I notice Yukihiro suddenly panic stricken, turning blood red in front of my dad and Mr Shinojima.

‘This is Mr Stinky.’ I say.

‘Mr Stinky?’ says Mr Shinojima, turning to Yukihiro.

‘No,’ says Yukihiro. ‘Not Mr Stinky. This is Ultraman.’

Mr Shinojima is saying something Japanese to Yukihiro under his breath and Yukihiro is looking deep down into his shoes.

And from the dojo the thud thud of heavy human beings like drums.



First published in Under the Stilts, 2013

Ania Walwicz Book Launch

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27, 2014 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando


Saturday 3rd May, 2pm at La Mama Theatre, the amazing Ania Walwicz launches her new book:

Palace of Culture (Puncher and Wattmann)

A book of dreams. Dreams come true.

Under the Stilts

Posted in Uncategorized on February 17, 2014 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando

New microfiction from Eric Yoshiaki Dando in Under the Stilts


Illustration from Tilly Hutchison. See more of her work at


a new poem about alicia sometimes

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2013 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando





alicia sometimes



alicia sometimes alicia sometimes

i’m still trying to think

of things

that rhyme with alicia


Best Australian Stories 2013

Posted in Uncategorized on November 21, 2013 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando


Real happy that my story ‘The Eulogy’ was selected by Kim Scott for Best Australian Stories 2013.

The Novel Teacher. A new eBook novella available on Smashwords

Posted in Eric Yoshiaki Dando, Uncategorized with tags , , on May 16, 2013 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando


Download a copy of The Novel Teacher here:

View a sample here:

Read an illustrated essay here:



Posted in Uncategorized on May 11, 2013 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando

snail snail cover green

mat and james are talking about the best sort of insects to burn with a magnifying glass.
‘snails are good,’ says mat. ‘you can burn a hole right through the shell and the guts start to bubble through the hole.’

james says slaters are the best. ‘make sure you get the big ones ’cause they curl up into a ball before exploding.
mat says that he stopped doing it after he found out about karma.

james says that he still does it sometimes.

(snail, Penguin Books 1996)

why white clothes are cooler than black

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31, 2013 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando


i leaf through the boys’ book of popular science, which was published in the twenties. there is a page explaining each subject briefly. the titles include: ‘the wonder of your backbone’, ‘what everything is made of’, ‘how to breathe poison air’, ‘the modern all-electric kitchen’, ‘why white clothes are cooler than black’.
there is something interesting in this last title.
i was led to believe that black clothes were cooler, but here are scientific diagrams, conclusive evidence. i am convinced: white clothes reflect more light and thus absorb less heat.
howie and i are going to photocopy this page and paste it around brunswick and fitzroy. paste one on the door of the black cat café in brunswick street. paste one on the door of the fitzroy lawn bowls club. start a bloody holy war.

(snail, Penguin Books, 1996)

Posted in Uncategorized on January 30, 2013 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando


The Black Dog

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2013 by Eric Yoshiaki Dando

Jasmine’s Kingswood only has the original radio so there is only what’s on the AM dial. I listen to Joseph Campbell tell American Indian stories on ABC Radio National. It fades in and out all dry and crackly through the Wombat State Forest. I keep thinking about them as I drive through the psychedelia of light playing on the road from the eucalyptus about the end of everything and the beginning of everything and the end that keeps beginning. There is so much static.

There is a cave that is very hard to find, says the radio through the static, but when you have found it you will see inside the cave an old woman making a shirt. And within the stitching and embroidery she puts all the good things and bad things there ever is or was and the shirt is nearly finished and she is just working on the hem and she is using porcupine quills but she has to soften them first by chewing them with her teeth and she has been doing this for a very long time and her teeth are down to nubs just above the gums. And she stitches the quills and everything there ever was into the hem of the garment and it is nearly finished.

And there is a fire in the back of the cave and over the fire is a bubbling soup brimming with all the animals and insects and trees and plants and mushrooms on the earth and the old woman has to put the shirt down sometimes to stir the soup on the fire. If the old woman forgets to stir the soup then some of the plants and mushrooms might stick on the bottom of the pot and burn and be lost forever.

But there is a black dog that lives in the back of the cave with the old woman and while she is stirring the soup on the fire the black dog comes and picks up the shirt, which is beautiful and perfect and almost finished and shakes it from side to side and undoes the embroidery, so that everything that she ever did is undid.
But the old woman picks up her ruined mess of embroidery and begins work on a new shirt including many beautiful scraps of fabric from the old shirt.

‘You should be happy about that black dog,’ the old people say to the young people when they tell this story. Because everything has been made and remade and smashed apart into bits and remade again which is the hidden meaning within the beginning and end of this story.

There is more information, if you listen closely, fading in and out on Radio National but it is cut off by the Wombat State Forest and all I hear is fuzz and crackle and static and eventually I shut it off. Because it is only mind numbing white noise not worth listening to. So I drive on in silence. Just the background noise of the tyres on the bitumen and the engine and the wind through a tiny crack in the window.