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

Disability Arts Online

Tokyo preparations / 25 March 2011

The media feeding frenzy has moved on and I have attempted “business as usual”. Monday, the first to assume normal structure, failed miserably.

With meetings and events paced for theoretical minimal impact on the nature and levels of pain I normally managed to absorb, it looked like a good place to start.

However, I failed to complete the day and experienced a strange detached misery. Some time after 15.00 my colleagues had had enough! I was given a beautiful slice of chocolate gateau and sent home with instructions to “eat and sleep.”

Preparations to travel spark little flames of anxiety. I decide to buy a different mouthwash. My usual one dilutes in water, but Tokyo water is beginning to register higher levels of radiation and now I’m making silly jokes about Tokyo Teeth

I will be taking more with me, maybe I need a bigger suitcase. New difficulties emerge daily; getting from Narita airport into Tokyo city will be the first hurdle. The train has been suspended to save on power. The temporarily non-disabled can use the bus; a bus that I cannot use.

I sense the challenge. Will Tokyo, waiting in unaccustomed darkness, be open to exploration? And what kind of exploration might be appropriate? My fascination with Japan’s past; with the art and cultural history that shapes modern Tokyo, may seem irrelevant to a people needing to focus on recovery and on building a new future.

And my particular focus on access; my hope to discover how deeply ingrained symbolic values impact on issues of equality for disabled people attempting to function in Japanese mainstream society and culture?

Somehow I think this may have to wait. There will be immediate issues claiming every available portion of energy and attention.