Sunday, 11 August 2013

recent visit.

Recently returned from some time in Japan, although not really intending to look too specifically at books or bookshops I did end up with a few that I'll hope to post on in the near future, my time was mainly spent meeting up with people that I've not seen in a long time and visiting some places that were both familiar and also some that were new to me. Along with this I had some new first time experiences, managed to fit in visits to various places including - Osaka, Kyoto, Niigata, and a brief night out and drive in Shiga around Lake Biwa, for my stay in Kyoto I owe a massive thank you to H-san and S-san, as always the generosity of people and friends I met astounded me, (the memory of six of us eating in a 30 mat banquet room is one that I'll not forget for a while), from Osaka we took the night bus to Niigata, I've not taken the night bus before and for me it was a little similar in some ways to taking a flight on a plane, initially there is a sense that the passengers feel a slight wariness of each other but by the end of the trip certain barriers have fallen by the wayside, the bus made breaks nearly every two hours or so, I'm one of those people who find it nearly impossible to sleep in transit, and it was quite amusing that the announcements for each of the stops was given in almost whispered tones and then the interior coach lights were suddenly fully switched on almost blinding those that had customised themselves to the darkness of the drawn curtains. As usual I discover things in the wrong order and browsing some interesting mooks, (a cross between a book and a magazine), on Kyoto, on my return learned of London Books, but there's always next time. 

Another experience new to me was carrying the mikoshi of the local shrine, I was following the procession as I knew someone involved but found myself being included, (perhaps slightly coerced), among the carriers, it's something that is recommended in forming a sense of unity within neighbourhoods, (!) within seconds of shouldering the burden I felt complete affinity with my fellow carriers, I presumed that I'd be permitted to shoulder the mikoshi for a minute or two, but no we went across the busy junction in front of the local mall, stopping traffic and being photographed all the way, I've been invited back for the autumn procession, perhaps it'll be easier in a cooler temperature but I'm not sure if my shoulder could take another pounding, I winced when seeing a mikoshi being carried on a television programme a week later much to the amusement to the others in the room, the burden of the carriers was occasionally added to when one of the carriers thought it amusing to stop carrying and jump up on top of the mikoshi adding to the already crushing weight, even the experienced guy behind me was saying "no more, no more!"               

Whilst travelling I dipped into Monkey Business vol 3, stories that stuck out in particular for me included Kawakami Mieko's Dreams of Love, Etc, translated by Hitomi Yoshio, Furukawa Hideo's Neither Purity Nor Defilement Now translated by Ryan Shaldjian Morrison, which left me wondering whether to add his novel Music to my small library of books in Japanese text, also the story Monkey Child - Human Children by Masatsugu Ono translated by Michael Emmerich. Two art books that I'll probably come to regret not buying were Yamaguchi Akira's The Big Picture, current exhibition at NCAM, and also Makota Aida's Monument for Nothing. I also took many photographs, but my mind lingers on the instances and scenes when I didn't have my camera at hand - a group of white show room dummies left outside an empty apartment store that had gone bankrupt, a lone farmer walking through the deep tanbo juxtaposed against his solitary bike parked at the edge of the field, an elderly man taking part with the matsuri, with a tengu mask hanging loosely from his neck, a young woman crouched in a pedestrian tunnel sheltering from a rain shower, these images and many more that remain uncaptured stay on in my thoughts. Before the trip I found that my mind was fixed on things that I'd be doing on my return, I think I'd have to admit to having a certain sense of detachment during my visit, brief and fleeting as it now begins to feel. Surprisingly using the public bath is something that I've not done before but can now add to the list of my meagre but enriching experiences. 

Whilst waiting for the driver on a Nankai local.


No comments: