Friday, March 15, 2013

here's a quarter buy yourself a grave

+ What's on: セツナレンサ, by Radwimps

I wanted to write about Japan today, because it's been on my mind a lot the past few months (the past few months, technically, but now and then I hit my stride and don't notice its absence as much). I wrote four different posts, then deleted all of them, and decided posting pictures would probably be more cathartic. But as I was going through my photo albums (the "Japan" folder on my hard drive is nearly 5 GB) I started to despair. I couldn't find the right photo - or photos, plural - to sum up that hollow ache.

Then I found this one.

At first glance this picture is nothing special. It's just a fuzzy too-close picture of alcohol taken with a phone camera. It's one of probably fifty pictures of alcohol I have on my system (not exaggerating; I bought us so much alcohol in San Francisco KM and I had to name our alcohol cabinets).

But I bought this shot in Hiroshima. I can't remember how it tasted, but I remember that day: the complicated feelings my trip through the museum created, how vibrant the city looked despite the ghost in its midst, the two Japanese ladies who laughed at the thought I might understand Japanese beyond "sushi" and "Fuji", the boy at the Ota River who played his guitar and sang at the top of his lungs like he didn't care who heard and knew he'd never grow old--

--and that one memory is vivid enough it all comes back: the winding road between my apartment and Chukyo University, the first time I understood the biting frustration of culture shock, the sing-song voice on the train lines announcing the next stop, the house in Musashino with its sliding doors, nikuman and anpan and taiyaki, the time I crashed my bike so hard near a train station exit I lost both of my shoes (and entertained the rush-hour crowd, I'm sure), the train crossing in Sendagaya and the absolute serenity of the Silver Pavilion in Kyoto--

--and I am as comforted as I am sad.

So really, this picture sums it up for me better than a thousand could.

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