This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

Dancing dresses and do I take sugar... / 7 June 2012

a photograph taken from high up looking down on to a modern shiny plaza

The Midtown Plaza from Galleria which houses the Suntory Museum of Art. Image credit: Gini

Zoom in to this image and read text description

'Does she take sugar' seems to be a question foreign to most Japanese; I am always spoken to directly. When I travel, all help, questions or instructions are directed at me - even if I have a Japanese companion who knows the way. And if my companion  presumes to comandeer the guiding process, I am usually asked if I am ok with that.

Of course they do tend to presume that I need help, but then most times they are right. I always feel the intentions are good, the attitude is right. It makes a big difference.

Finding my way around in the multi- layered super-city that is Tokyo does get easier as I learn to use the sky-scapers as landmarks and begin to understand the layouts.

I have even got used to the idea that the enormous, formal-looking office blocks frequently have arts, shopping areas and restaurants that are worth looking into.

I was in such a place, outside a dress shop, when the dresses began dancing. Swinging about on their rail like crazy puppets, they looked quite surreal.

Unusually, one of the young staff members began to cry; normally earthquakes do not provoke much reaction from anyone. She was embraced and  consoled by one of her colleges.

I have noticed that, wheelborne, I seem somewhat insulated from the effects of earthquakes. I notice other things moving and shaking, and during small forays on crutches, or in bed, feel them much more.

Where were you when we had the earthquake, is a question I frequently cannot answer.



Another, quake, another shift
the living earth has more presence
here. And thus creates a greater
sense of need for harmony
of effort. Need to recognise
outrageous and delicate
strength that moves mountains and seas,
grows cherry blossom, and floats
cloud soft over Fiji San.
Humanity invents ways to
co-exist, to live and dance,
to celebrate life on the edge
of each possible extinction.