Arriving at Narita airport, Tokyo / 2 April 2011
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 tangled with equally tall bamboo amaze me. Why don't I know about this? Awaiting me is the hired powerchair and after a quick unpacking and sampling of Tokyo water we head out on my first exploration of Ginza.
SP did tell me that Mega City Tokyo is more like a collection of villages and the description is accurate. The texture of Tokyo is rich and thought provoking and everywhere are reminders that people are rising to the challenge to be helpful and supportive of each other through the aftermath of the disaster.
My fascination with shoes draws me into the first shop. I am greeted with bows, I admire the shoes and the assistant smiles. Suddenly we are communicating, she makes images of bubbles, circles with her fingers floating, "Tokyo frighten". We are talking about radiation, she mimes the bubbles sinking into her skin, this invisible threat far scarier than quakes or tsunami.
Our walk into Ginza followed the river outside SP's flat, and although the area shows no sign of it, the tsunami did sweep a metre or so of water into Tokyo and muddy debris was deposited along the river walk. Everywhere is clean and there are plants; trees, flowers and grasses in every conceivable patch of land, or in pots and tubs. On our return, melancholy jazz notes float over the river from a lone musician on the opposite bank.
Early evening and we head over to Roppongi to eat. Tokyo has a low-key sparkle. The only lights on Tokyo Tower are the aircraft warning lights. I actually find it beautiful and very atmospheric. The waterfall in Mori Tower is switched off, the iconic spider sculpture is unlit. The Gallery is showing Marcel Duchamp, Dali, Jackson Pollock, Rene Magritte and more. I ponder this over a dish of Soba. I must come back in the daytime and view the exhibition.