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Greeting Tokyo / 26 August 2014


A smooth landing and fast, easy entry into the land of the rising sun, sees me speeding in a Skyliner train into Tokyo from Narita airport. The journey is familiar.
Japan's created geography can change as speedily as that traumatised by the natural phenomena that occur in this part of the world, yet certain things remain. The perfect rectangles of cultivated land, and the jungle effects of foresting trees dwarfed by bamboo - all tangled together with rampant vines, these things repeat between pockets of densely built-up areas that grow ever larger and closer together as we near the giant sprawl of Tokyo.
Scattered like dice across a gaming table, the equality of chance appears to dictate the position of these dwellings clinging to the surface of frequently inhospitable landscapes.

And I return to thinking about equality, something that might seem so clearly definable to Western thinking; I return to thoughts about its quality, it's values and it's visible, knowable face.
I'm wondering how loud a NIMBY could afford to shout, here where this equality seems so much less of an issue; where other values dominate and confuse western sensibilities.

I arrive with all the bias of a pro-Japanese visitor, the one with the little body of experience and the growing gaijin knowledge. I arrive with a mixture of trepidation and comfortable relief.


Brown girl in the wind; I run
on fast wheels to see Sumida
and never has she looked so
brown, a rich russet, rusty
river, chop-dancing in a
cooling breeze, glinting in the
eyes of gulls. Glass castles of
the eager children of men
reflect on her brownness
as their shadows bounce in her
lap. Sumida hurries land
to the sea. Torrential rain,
sliding everyday lives from
their roots, gathering smallest
details, histories and hopes
with a wild energy that
does not last, leaves only the
brown earth to river's embrace
and Sumida flees, eager
to be free of the burden.
Brown river washing the land;
brown girl in the wind.