July 9 – Kurashiki, Tokyo










We managed to swing another night at Sonoko’s house, where we stayed when we first landed in Japan, despite her three night minimum stay. This extra day is due to us bagging a second night in Kurashiki, since the reason for our stay there was to make a daytrip of Naoshima. For better or worse, safer or sorrier, we took the shinkansen direct from Okanawa, after a local from Kurashiki. Five hours, the first several of which I slept – heat-stroke, a day on Kosanji in the glare of heaven, Carrara marble and unity, and the sardine-spiked ramen…

Arriving in Tokyo, we realised how far we have come and how different the city is from the country. No chance of strangers having time for us here – and committing to conversations in broken English.

Back home in Tokyo. A wander around Shimokitazawa and the irritating fashion and food – too much Americana. Rain, thunderstorm, lost walking for an hour, tired achyness and the mission to check the shopping scene and find somewhere to eat goes awry: we pick up heat-ups at Family Mart and head for the station. But it’s the wrong line and we have to go one station back again and find the Odakyu line. …

Today we noticed how quiet Japanese people are. We noticed this then the test came: a screaming child. Today we noticed how the patterns of habitation and subsequent urbanisation follow the cultivation of rice so favours the flat and floodable, water in ready supply, and the coastlines… Today we noticed how much water there is here and how many umbrellas.

We imagined how much life has been changed by air-conditioning – which reminds me of the pottery shop in Kurashiki, water dripping off the heat-pump onto the display shelves. And the lady shopkeeper approached me and put her foot alongside mine and laughed. It was going to be her 83rd birthday tomorrow, which is today. She mimed her imminent decrepitude. She encouraged me to pat her dog, who growled. Then she pretended for the dog’s sake she was coming with us and leaving it behind. Dog looked confused.