Archive for January 18th, 2010|Daily archive page

Tokyo oh Tokyo

In japan, travelling on January 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Starting to feel at home here, it wasn’t that immediate love that I have for Barcelona or Berlin, but it’s growing on me, I think it’s the way the city glows at night, all the bright neon signs hung along the height of the buildings, riding through Ginza, their Oxford St and Regent St and New Bond St combined. One long thoroughfare to conspicuous consumption, so be-sparkled and twinkling a feast for the eyes, you can’t help but be dazzled by it, the city, and its eager desire to show itself off to you.
I haven’t done much exploring of the side streets and some of the recommended areas like shimo kitazawa or shibuya, or even shinjuku, but I will do. It feels very familiar as I was hoping every city I traveled to would, don’t get me wrong, there is an immense feeling of dislocation and this is someplace I’ve never been to before, and it sure doesn’t feel the same as Stockholm or berlin or Paris, but it has that big city, cultural capital if not capital capital feel, that having grown up in London I immediately sense and feel comfortable with. Big Cities are where I feel most comfortable, the rhythms of them, the ebb and flow of people, and place, the creeping gentrification, the down at heel, the merging of areas, as two places become one, the demarcation of one neighbourhood from another, finding a niche in there that feels similar, but still distinct enough to mark this out as a place you’ve never been to.
Tokyo is an assault on the senses particularly the eyes with every street, building, person calling on you to examine them, to look at them, to really see them, it is an assault I’m quickly growing used to (even though I’ve only been here three days) and finding that I am actually starting to enjoy

Side note, stopped at some lights today as I was in my way to ryogoku and looked up into the darkening dusk sky and saw a lone star, a quarter moon, and the clouds spread thin and wispy like a giants fingerprint.

Pictures or it didn’t happen

In japan, travelling, writing on January 18, 2010 at 4:34 pm

I’m in yoyogi park, the place where the Japanese rockabilly’s prance and preen to the garage rock tunes that kicked it back in the 50’s and 60’s. Leather jackets, oiled quiffs and shades covering their eyes. They dance and strut and people come and take photo’s.  Tourists gawk and snap away and the rockabilly’s are eager enough to be a part of it, to a certain extent prostitute themselves for the camera. I should take a photo but I can’t because I don’t want to do what everyone is doing (because I’m contrary like that) and maybe because they won’t be any good (every creative person has doubts about their ability, the constant questioning is what makes it worthwhile when you come up with something decent), but also because I don’t want to be like those that document everything yet see nothing. So wrapped up in the need to take that photograph, that they fail to enjoy the thing that they’ve come to see.

You know the ones that spend the whole night standing in front of you with their arm in the air, mobile phone clutched in their hand, trying to take photos or record their favourite song, recording a memento of their journey to, and participation in, this event and the only way it can be communicated to others is to show them the grainy images of someone far away whose face you cannot quite see and who are god knows where.

So I’ve only got a couple of photos of yoyogi park. Think of it as just one big rehearsal space, a tokyo’s got talent speakers corner, everyone gets a chance to do their thing, whether they be good or bad, or just plain ridiculous. Digeridoo players, stood behind public toilet blocks to get the proper acoustics, jugglers throwing objects between themselves, saxophone players practising “somewhere over the rainbow” alone in the wooded areas.
I even saw a man pretending to catch a baseball game, complete with calling signs, grabbing pitches out of the dirt and exhortations to non existent team mates as he filmed himself.
So I’ve taken some photo’s, actually I’m taking more photo’s than I’ve taken for a while, as part of my new; take a photo everyday whilst I’m travelling campaign. But for right now I’m trying to make the claim that a good couple of paragraphs of writing outweigh a shitty cameraphone pic. And that argument would be kind of destroyed if I posted up some photo’s with this post wouldn’t it.
So how am I doing so far? Is the power of the written word and my prose style keeping you interested and intrigued enough to keep coming back for more, until I find that missing camera cable and am able to upload some pictures of buildings and my feet upto flickr and then to here.

Or will you bail out with a dismissive sweep of the hand at the screen and utter the words “pictures or it didn’t happen”. If they remake the life of christ, this is what all those who don’t see the miracles should say when word of it comes to them. “Pictures or it didn’t happen”