Somewhere in Japan

Dispatch № 115: Five Shorts

№ 1: How much longer will the cicada’s call resonate in the autumn air? Already, it is far quieter than in summer’s riotous climax. Their numbers are dwindling. Every year, in some unknown moment, we may hear the solitary cry of the last survivor, calling for a mate that is not there. Soon after, only silence where a great noise had been. That silence, the absence of that collective insect voice, hangs transparent in the atmosphere until the summer comes again.

№ 2: Saturday night in Kabukicho, this is the Tokyo of film and fantasy—a glittering sea of signs embroidering narrow streets, densely thronged with buzzing multitudes. Visitors often expect all of Tokyo to be like this, or like the Shibuya Scramble, or like Takeshita-dori. But most of it isn’t anything like those places, and we are lucky for that. That every neighborhood of this immense urban sprawl is different from every other is a blessing in the form of variety.

№ 3: In the back of my planner, a list of names. Suzu, Kotone, Hotaru—names I may someday give to children of my own. Most are names I came to like because they belonged to especially wonderful students. Others names have been deliberately excluded, belonging to unpleasant children I have known. And one name I love, but which I no longer list, belonged to a lovely little girl who died, whose memory now burdens the name with an unbearable weight.

№ 4: Water stones of one thousand, three thousand, six thousand grit. Leather strop. Six kitchen knives so sharp they cut like lasers, gliding through vegetables and meat so easily it’s spooky. Japan’s swords are legendary, but I prefer the kitchen knives here. There’s skill in their making, skill in their use, skill in keeping them sharp. Though I am no great chef, I do like to cook. With a beautiful, well-sharpened knife in hand, it becomes all the more fun.

№5: Four kilometers to work, four kilometers home. 1,930 revolutions of each wheel to get me there, that many to return. Thirty minutes a day rolling silently on high-pressure, narrow tires down quiet back streets and alongside the railroad tracks, where trains thunder past at reliable intervals. It is my buffer between work life and home, a pressure-release valve activated by pedaling smoothly, steadily, and persistently, whatever the day may bring.

This post is in a format I’m going to be playing with for now, in the interest of building up creative momentum again. I have a small notebook, gridded, in which each page has a total of 468 squares. I’m treating this as a character limit, punctuation and spaces included, and am seeing what I can do with that small amount of space. So far, it’s fun, and (importantly) I’m actually doing it.

More news coming soon.

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Picture of David R Munson

David R Munson

Photographer, essayist, wanderer, weirdo. Everything is interesting if you give it an honest chance to be.

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