Tokyo-based poet Cai recalls the night as the “time we usually get to ourselves.” For her, it is then when she feels the most freedom to work on her poetry, without the obligations of the day. The writer and creative entrepreneur is crafting her legacy even now, with her monthly spoken-word event called “Say It Loud,” and her first book, scheduled to be released sometime this year.


  • How does the night spark your creativity?

Night has more of a feeling of privacy, and through that, when you’re among people almost more of a sense of voyeurism.  In the day we’re all expected to be around and interacting with each other, night is when people turn that off and can be more simply themselves.  I find that solitude, in myself and watching it in others, interesting.

  • How does your creative process differ from day and night? (How does the contrast between day and night impact you as a creator?)

Day is full of obligation.  That may not always mean a job, although it often does, but there’s always a sense of needing to be productive or get certain things done not because you want to, but because you’re supposed to.  Nighttime can be more free because it’s the time we usually get to ourselves.  There’s less pressure and more freedom to just work with whatever comes out of your brain.

  • Why do you think young creators thrive in night time contexts?

More and more people are starting to make their own schedules, and you don’t have to conform to a set 9-5 schedule.  Young people are usually more active in nightlife – we go out at night, stay up late and then sleep late.  When you do that enough your body gets used to that schedule.  When you wake up late, it takes more time for your brain to get rolling, we only wake up once some time has passed and then it happens to be night.

  • What are some things you do to stay in your zone?

Honestly, it kind of just comes or it doesn’t – I’m still figuring out how to be more disciplined in my practice.  When I’m having a hard time finding words I walk around, push myself to go outside and see/do things I haven’t before.  Being an observer helps me.

  • In what ways has your city molded your creativity?

Moving here was the biggest transition I’ve ever gone through alone.  Everything was new so there was much to think and write about. On top of that, Tokyo is a city of contrasts and that provides ample inspiration and reflection.  The tradition side by side with the abundance of modernity.

  • What do you love about being in your city during late night hours?

There’s a feeling of something ancient and almost otherworldly in certain parts of Tokyo.  There is a lot that is flashy and in your face, but there are many more hidden spots.  The mixture of the two, walking in between the two types of areas, is profound.

  • Where do you find inspiration in the city?


  • What’s the best advice you’ve received as a creative person?

To have security in your own work.  Don’t show the world any doubt about your process or creations, even if it’s sometimes there.

  • Tokyo is famous for its luminescent night-time glow. How has this affected your creativity?

I know this isn’t what you mean – but I’ve found that I notice the moon more here.  I find the moon to be ceaselessly exciting, it’s been a source of inspiration for artists and thinkers basically since we’ve existed.  It can also provide a sense of comfort in the context of a big move – wherever you are you look at the same moon.