When I first began Monogatari, what I knew about Japan could be summed up in large part by saying, "it's that way," and pointing east. They had sushi there, and brightly-colored clothes, and traditions that I had no prayer of understanding. That was about it. This book was written from that perspective.

During the writing of this book, I studied Japanese culture and history, and a bit of all the surrounding Asian cultures and history to put it in perpective. I came away with an appreciation of the place that I never expected. I've talked to friends who've lived abroad, poked through the usual research suspects, and watched more martial arts movies than I think is really reasonable. I hope that the sincere love I learned for the place and the people comes through in this work, and through the eyes of my protagonists.

Even when writing it, I was conscious of the fact that I was borrowing heavily from something that didn't belong to me. I tried hard to respect the people who came from the places I was going in the story, and to portray them realistically, fairly and honestly. In the end, people that are actually from these cultures will be the judge of how well I did at that. However, at the time I wrote it, I did not understand that what I was doing with the premise of this story is called cultural appropriation. Thanks to some good (and extremely patient) friends, I've come to understand that, putting it simply, it's impossible to tell good stories about people of color when your main characters are white. And setting your story entirely in someone else's culture when your story isn't about them is basically stealing.

I never set out to be a thief, but I sure as hell feel bad for having done it, now that I get it. I'm leaving the story up as is because by now it's public record - you can't really delete anything on the internet - and I'm hoping that adding this note will help people like I used to be, who love the idea of these places and just don't understand that white folks can only visit. For more info on cultural appropriation, visit the hub of all human knowledge: wikipedia. They have a good overview, and some links down at the bottom that'll help put it in context. To anyone I may have hurt with this story, you have my sincere apology.

If, like me, you are starting this work with not a lot of reference for the faces, places, words or sights that are in this novel, there is a complete glossary and gallery provided in the extras section. They contain no spoilers for the story, so feel free to browse them as you read.

The following story is a work of pure fiction. I know no person named herein, and none of the following ever happened. No actual samurai or actors were harmed in the making of this story.

I'd like to specifically thank CK; she knows who she is. Your patience, love and invaluable help cannot be overstated - with you, I'm a better person. Little night beauty, I wish you always good things.