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> > Gini

Artist and wordsmith, whose work engages with issues of access, from acknowledged physical needs to perceived symbolic exclusions. After being selected as one of DAO's New Voices in 2011, Gini's online presence has become an integral part of her arts practice

Earthquakes and Tokyo Tower

17 April 2011

Blog

photo of tokyo tower

Sleek and lazy when we returned, Sumida gathers momentum; rolling sea-ward with a sense of urgency. Deep gleaming; green black; her skin puckered by soft breezes, she ripples the skyscrapers reflected in her journey, moving silently along the riverbed. The familiar bed that is all hers to play in, when the great sea-monster is hunting elsewhere. It's good to be back in Tokyo, even though she welcomes us with a whole series of quakes; just little ones, around four on the scale, but the centre is...

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Setting out for Tokyo

1 April 2011

Blog

I'm packed and ready to go. I've read up on radiation levels, checked out the frequency and strength of the earthquakes and received supplies of dark, exotic chocolate from concerned friends. I'm worrying that my plans will be unworkable and find that keeping an open mind gives access to all kinds of anxieties, but having to be this flexible is also exciting. There are days when all the planning and pacing necessary to make my life function weigh impossibly heavily on me. I still hope to visit...

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Arriving at Narita airport, Tokyo

2 April 2011

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Nine-fifteen, we are early, and I sit waiting as folk walk off the plane. My wheelchair arrives and then I too make my way out onto Japanese territory. Lots of bowing, helpful people assist my passage through the airport terminal. I am met, greeted and handed over. SP and I take an unfamiliar train journey back to his flat in Tokyo. For him, after the earthquake and tsunami, so much has changed, for me it is all new and exciting. The journey into Tokyo holds my attention, stands of tall pines...

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First cherry blossom

3 April 2011

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Entrance to Meiji Shrine, Tokyo

The  arrangements are made; the day has been booked. Food, drink and the blue plastic ground cover, all are ready but the sun. And a cold wind blows. But all is not lost and rescue provided by an enormous bunch of lurid pinkness; balloons on strings, stand-ins for the cherry that failed to bloom on the day. Today we take the metro to Meiji Jingumae, it involves changing trains and using platform lifts. It all happens very smoothly and although there are several points where I am anxious, the...

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Visit to Roppongi and the Mori Gallery exhibition

5 April 2011

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View of Tokyo Tower from Mori Tower 52nd floor

In silver dragonskin the rippling river slides over the rolling muscles of the sea. Quiet now in her lair Sumida still attracts my attention. Su mi ma sen. Excuse me! Not the apologetic version I repeat endlessly at home. Here I am. Take notice of me! Su mi ma sen Sumida showing me another way, a better way to be. Today Sumida sparkles in brilliant sunshine and her reflections ripple on the ceilings of the flat. A good day to visit Roppongi and the view from the Mori Tower. I have discovered...

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Cherry trees in Hamarikyu Garden

6 April 2011

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Close-up photo of cherry blossom

The morning river is pleated and folded. The sea monster heaves it's way inland and the early sun sparkles, scurrying to the harbour, are battered against the river's concrete containment. Battered and scraped as the monster crosses the river-bed; lazy this morning, the caged animal not breaching it's containment just rolling it's muscle. A warning, a statement: You are the river, but I am the Sea. Today I roll along the river-walk to Tsukiji. Cherry blossom is exploding everywhere in the warm...

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An outing from Minato to Ginza

4 April 2011

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photo of Tokyo streets

Minato. Gateway to the sea. Gateway? Is this your first port of call? Sumida feeds you, ripples and scurries to greet you and you nudge back, pushing and teasing. Gateway? Can she keep you out? When you surge with your burdens of wreckage and mud, will Minato survive? Will the shrine on the corner protect her? Today I'm out on my own, it's brilliant sunshine and I'm going from Minato, where SP lives by the Sumida river, into Ginza. Road works outside the flat require two police persons to...

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Earthquake

7 April 2011

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Photo of large statue of the Buddha in Asakusa, Tokyo

Utamaro's woman riding on giant fish makes sense to me now I too have ridden a serpent; The great snake monster that is Gaia, arched and rolling spine curving and bucking with shivers and shudders. Oblivious. I exercise the Narrow Focus and ignore the dragon beneath me.   Asakusa is today's destination and I will need to change trains. Ueno is suggested as the obvious change point, but when I ask the station staff to check out the elevator situation they change their minds and send me via...

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Seeking art

8 April 2011

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Tokyo Metro Hat at Roppongi Hills

Disability Arts. Deesha? And words I do not understand. Artist? Yes, artist, and here we communicate. I point to me: disability. Realisation dawns. Oh, handicap. No, oh no, not here, not us. Today I return to the National Arts Centre and it is open. Getting in to the space is free for disabled people and carers, but the individual exhibitions cost varying prices. Tickets are bought outside, but all the information about the exhibitions is inside and the girl in the ticket office tells me there...

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Kamakura and the Jizo statues

9 April 2011

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The Jizo statues halfway up the hill in the Hasedera Temple complex at Kamakura

Jizo-Bosatsu future Buddha possessor of all the blessings of the earth; and out of reach. Jizo, comfort for the souls of unborn children. But no comfort to me, inaccessible on a hillside half-way up steps. Hasedera Temple, with all it's attention to detail is a joy and a disappointment. The garden, however is exquisite and gives me it's own blessing. Today we are going to the garden at Kamakura, with, at the Hasedera Temple, the Jizo statues which I hope will somehow resonate with some of my...

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Shinkansen day

10 April 2011

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Photo of cherry tree, with straw-bound trunk, in the Toji Temple complex

Surely I must be falling off the edge of the world. The skyscrapers lean to impossible angles; and cars, why don't they slide away? Riding the Shinkansen is a glide into wonderland. Tokyo to Kyoto, in just four stops. I have no sensation of speed, yet the journey is over so soon. Today we get up at five, and I'm excited to be having my first high speed train journey. Japan has two incompatible power systems so there is no power-saving in the west of the country and the Shinkansen to Kyoto still...

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Walking in Kyoto

11 April 2011

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Little fish on sticks, waiting to be cooked over a small fire-pit

We have no gods, we celebrate our founder, our gratitude; the teaching that enables us to find enlightenment. The true path. We have no gods we celebrate the man; we want to live the way he lived; dress the way he dressed; think the way he thought. And I begin to see how maybe, just maybe, celebrity, the cult, was born here. After a hard days sightseeing (gravel and beautiful stone pathways being hard on the spine), I get a hard nights sleep. In all the old woodblock prints I so admire, people...

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In a Bamboo Forest...

13 April 2011

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Bamboo: growing, felled and stored

Think Japanese think technology. Yet here I sit with no wi-fi in a modern hotel in Kyoto; lost without connection. Another clear and sunny day; Japan is warming up. Being in a hotel has focused me on some different things: I notice the little green circles with white crosses marking maps with refuge points, places to gather if the earth quakes badly. And I find the rechargeable torch by my hotel bed, together with the Gideon Bible and Teachings of Buddha. The earthquakes that still remind Tokyo...

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Golden Palace

12 April 2011

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photo of a stone lion decorating a rooftop, against a blue sky

I sit in a swirl of good luck. A teasing wind blows it toward me and I laugh into the dancing storm. At night, undressing for bed, a confetti of delicate blossom escapes from my clothes to the floor. I wish, in this circle of blessings, and dream of my memories. I sit in a swirl of good luck. A teasing wind blows it toward me and I laugh into the dancing storm. At night, undressing for bed, a confetti of delicate blossom escapes from my clothes to the floor. I wish, in this circle of blessings,...

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Soari: arts and disability or Disability Arts?

14 April 2011

Blog

photo of lines of raked gravel

The morning looks sunny and bright, I have promised to try the stewed root vegetables for breakfast, and I do, but won't be doing it again! We plan another bus journey today; Ginkakuji, the garden with the raked silver sand, is on my wish list. I wait in the queue while SP buys our tickets so that we can be first in the new queue. It doesn't help. The driver ignores us and loads up the bus. They come every ten minutes, so we wait. The next bus is no better. We notice that it has steep steps to...

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Souvenir shopping in Kyoto

15 April 2011

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photo of a bonsai tree standing against a wall

Plink, and I awake to the wood on wood sound of a falling chopstick. I crawl out of bed in the dark and activate the emergency torch to search underneath. Here I discover my bed anchored to the floor by four solid steel brackets. Reminders that Kyoto is also vulnerable to the earth dragon and the great fish monster. Today we have decided to walk/roll to the Gion district for some souvenir shopping. Now that we have discovered the Keihan Railway we know we can always get a train back to Kyoto...

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Fuji-San surprise

16 April 2011

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Luck hurtles down the river; twirls around the feet of feeding cranes; swirls into little peaceful ponds. Luck skips along the ground; settles into drifts to lay blush-pink carpets and petal-soft pillows. Luck flies through the air; brushes my cheek, my lips, decorates my hair; creeps into my clothes. Kyoto air is heavy with luck and Fuji-San responds with a surprise revelation. Today we leave the peace of Kyoto and return to Tokyo where the earth still shakes and reminders are frequent. The...

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Completing the art triangle

18 April 2011

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A glitter ball twirling in bright sunlight, Sumida swirls in the aftermath of more quakes. Loudspeakers intrude all over Tokyo. White Van Man, with entourage buzzing, seeks re-election. Small groups assemble, some with religious concentration; some mute with placards. Friend or foe? I cannot guess. And Sumida carries the sounds wide over the water. When I visited the Mori Gallery a brochure informed me about the Roppongi Art Triangle, so today I will attempt to complete the triangle by visiting...

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Super Bank Zone

19 April 2011

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photo of a crane in the garden at Hibiya

You Are Here; sitting by Sumida, where tufts of bamboo poke cheekily out of neatly trimmed azalea hedging; here and there in full bloom. Sumida, so close to the harbour smells of the sea. I will follow her into Tsukiji and the Fish Market, but here we part company until the evening when we meet again; each with our own impressions of the day and each playing games with our own dragons. A rather mixed weather forecast mentions the possibility of rain, but I decide to chance setting out for...

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Able Art

20 April 2011

Blog

Wooden statue of a warrior figure with muscled torso, held in a dramatic pose

I miss bathing in the sun. Here in Tokyo is no private space and sitting out is shaded from its heat. White skin is prized; whitening creams and sun-umbrellas already selling well. I seek out sheltered corners from the wind and watch face-masked passers-by, in polo-necks and dark coats; tiny dogs in jump suits and the odd rebel in shirt-sleeves, skin exposed to danger. But strangely, no-one wearing sunglasses. Sumida, dark and mysterious, has sparkling circles spreading over her skin; she seems...

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Spanish chocolate and the price of melons

21 April 2011

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photo of a statue of cupid peering around the corner at pavement level

For the first time when I look out on the river, Sumida cradles gulls. All is quiet. And somehow we are waiting. Waiting produces it's own sense of anticipation. I awake to this erie quiet and a sense of waiting for something. I remember the chrysanthemum wall from yesterday with the artist claiming to find reality in the disappearing edges of things and I reflect on the aching sadness of untimely endings. Today I'm going to Marunouchi; a roll through the sunny city streets to explore...

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Imperial fiasco

22 April 2011

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photo of the moat around the Imperial Palace Garden showing a high wall

Sumida is rocking and rolling today. The gulls again cradled on the water and the cranes busy building Tokyo. I roll down to the walkway and Sumida rolls towards me, waves working their way diagonally across the river bed. I feel the curiosity, and the welcome. I feel a kind of wholeness, and an empty kind of longing, that is born of missing loved ones. Today I'm making a second attempt to visit the Imperial Palace grounds and although the air is warm and heavy, no rain is forecast. This my...

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Dead umbrella day

23 April 2011

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'Dead umbrellas' Black and white image of umbrellas in front of rain covered window.

Rain. I wake to a tremendous storm of rain and peer out of the window. I can only just make out the river through the vast quantity of water that falls through the air. Sumida is flat and black; the usual reflections battered away by the sheer force of the rain. I had hoped we would visit Tsukiji Fish Market today, but this does not look promising. However, as soon as the rain eases a little we wrap ourselves in waterproof gear and set out. Before we are anywhere near Tsukiji the rain...

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Freedom and self esteem

25 April 2011

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Wheelchair or universal version of personal transport. Seen at the Tokyo Universal Design exhibition.

The thing I will miss most about Japan is my freedom. I will miss the physical freedom and I will miss the emotional and psychological freedom that comes from Japanese people's attitude to human beings.   My initial worries about the hired powerchair dissolved as I found ways to work with it; and gradually I became a fan. The skinny wheels are no more inconvenient than those of my manual wheelchair and just required me to have a more flexible attitude.  The chair itself was not quite as...

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Rainbow Bridge

24 April 2011

Blog

View from the train which takes you out over Tokyo Harbour on the Rainbow Bridge

The level of the river has been rising, and today there is a swirl of something that looks like seaweed. The weather is back to hot and sunny  and we will repeat the roll into Tsukiji, but going on to Higashi Ginza, Ginza and Shinbashi where we will take the Yurekamome line will take us, via an unmanned train, out over the Rainbow Bridge to Daiba. We are both surprised to be met in the station by a uniformed member of train staff as this line is supposed to be unmanned. It turns...

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