Tokyo Time / 29 August 2013
Tokyo time has come around again. For a week or so before I travel, the prospect dominates my life. The preparation consumes me. I pace myself to live with this division of attention, I am well practiced in the phenomenon, but this year is more fraught than usual.
I think of my father talking about the see-saw between countries and cultures and the frustration of being constantly on the move yet going no-where.
I recall my grandmother packing to move us to the summer house on the beach for the season and my own determination not to live this divided life. And my other grandmother, long before I was born, lived in India where she too moved up to a summer residence in the cooler hills. So how could I hope to avoid the divide? It's part of my history, my memories and, in spite of my protests, my personality. It's in my DNA, the restless, reluctance of letting go, moving on.
When I was homeless I would buy pretty little things for my imaginary home and treasure them for a day before leaving them somewhere without looking back. I would wrap them up, just like we did for the summer house. It was somehow comforting.
I'm in the process of wrapping up the UK version of my artist and transferring my focus and energies on to the Japanese version.
The snag is that the Japanese version of my artist has such a fledgling identity floundering around without words, without the symbols to process and express the otherness.
Observation takes the place of conversation and I struggle to give face value the same weight and dignity as the spoken word. Finding and exposing the subtext in a culture so different is an intriguing challenge and finding my gaze is an act of patience.
I arrive, so the Google Bible declares
in typhoon season; I like heat
and humidity is fine in wide open
spaces, I cope badly with changes
of pressure; but the killer is concrete.
Radiating stored heat, transformed
from blessing under open skies
to oppressive smother of warped
atoms fighting the living tissue
that attempts breathing the breathless
atmosphere of the mammoth
heat store that is urban jungle;
the prickling irritation
of proximate concrete that
new, persistently renews,