Are-bure-boke bush

№ 12: Hearing Earthquakes

It’s like an impossibly large machine has just switched on, far enough away that the actual noise of it is gone, but the low rumble of its vibrations carry through the ground and into your body.

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The view from my old office in Roppongi, Tokyo

№ 11: The Last Day

Yesterday was my last day of work at the English-teaching Job I’ve had since May 2015. Or, it would have been, had they given me any classes. Instead, I got my farewell, a final middle finger, in the form of an empty schedule.

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Demolition of the building that used to stand next to mine

№ 10: Thirty Years

About thirty years. That’s the average lifespan of a house in Japan. The day a new home is finished is the day it begins depreciating. Within twenty years or so, the value of the structure will be zero.

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Country roads in Yamanashi Prefecture

№ 7: In a Vast, Sleepy Valley

In sleep, our world balloons endlessly as our dreams spin fibers of imagination into vast tapestries of otherness. These are dotted with peculiar structures of meaning, the significance of which flees quickly upon sleep’s end.

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The platform at Nerima Takanodai Station

№ 6: Last Stop

The train platform felt like a floating boat dock, surging and swaying underfoot. This was bad. I struggled to keep my balance, trying hard not to stumble while standing still. The surrounding people must have thought I was drunk, which wouldn’t have been out of place on that Friday night in Roppongi.

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Trees full of crows at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo

№ 5: To the Death

It wasn’t immediately clear that anything strange was happening. We had just walked over the pedestrian walkway from the event plaza to Yoyogi Park on a lovely, early spring day. But as we made our way further into the park itself, the sound of crows took over.

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Trash cans at Shakujii Park, Nerima Ward, Tokyo

№ 4: Garbage Day

There was a sad-looking plastic bag on the landing in front of my apartment door. The contents were mixed: the tray from a convenience store boxed lunch, an empty cigarette pack, two PET bottles, and several beer cans.

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Work shirts hanging in my bay window, which I also used as a standing desk for a while

№ 3: Cozy, Not Cramped

It’s not as if I didn’t know the apartment was small. I had seen the pictures and floor plan. But when I opened the door for the first time, a wave of near-panic washed over me.

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Night view of Yamabiko Kids Park, Nerima Ward, Tokyo

№ 2: Meanderlust

Sneakers are a more powerful antidepressant than any drug. When loneliness intensifies or panic attacks cause the walls to close in, I strike out. All I need are my shoes and the knowledge that, as long as I keep moving, the shadows can’t catch up.

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My boarding pass for Delta flight DL296, Shanghai to Narita, on the day I moved to Japan. 2015-03-31

№ 1: Trusting the Gut

For thirteen years before I boarded Delta flight DL296 from Shanghai to Narita, the journey lived at the back of my mind. It was always there, calling out to me, thrusting itself into my conscious awareness through any gap it could to color my thoughts with longing.

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