It is late October 2019; the trees along either bank of the Motoyasu are starting to turn pale orange and yellow and drop leaves into the river, and I am closing bank accounts and notifying authorities and getting ready to fly home via Manila. I shall be reading this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence. Whether it’s a sigh of regret or sweet natsukashii1 remains to be told.
Continue reading “川の流れ/ Last Post from Japan (I’ll Be Back)” →
As my good friends will know, I’m not one for superhero movies. To me, they mostly blur together into an aspartame-packed mêlée of action setpieces, leaden Hollywood quips and deus-ex-machinae. The plots are often generic and I don’t give a shit about the characters. Continue reading “The End of Something” →
I was lugging these heavy old tatami mats across the pig and goat pen, to make a path over the earthen space in front of the chicken enclosure. After all, as my host Kaz said ‘after a few years, tatami will return to the land’. Suddenly, I started to think about how people use, and think about, the land beneath our feet. Continue reading “Cropped Out” →
I was stalked home by a white cat the other night. It was exceptionally odd- the cat would walk in the shadow at the edge of the path. When I turned away, the cat would start sprinting towards me; I would suddenly turn back and the cat would screech to a halt a little too late, its piercing eyes fixed on mine. I’m not one for the supernatural, but I felt like that cat knew me. Continue reading “Valley Folk and City Kids” →
The steam rises, gently caressing the edges of the bamboo-pattern tiles. A pipe (real bamboo this time) brings bubbling, warm water from a hot spring. A group of friends in their twenties chat animatedly as they get ready for the plunge. An older man sinks deep into the water, eyes closed, world outside invisible. Continue reading “Hell or Hot Water” →
When we’re asked what we remember about a place or time in our lives, we aren’t always honest. The truth is that what sticks with us, the indelible element of our life experiences, can be kind of mundane, or just downright fucking random. Social media encourages us to think of ourselves as linear beings assembling ‘narratives’ of our lives- I am guilty of this- but despite the conditioning power of screen time, we mostly experience the world as a jumbled series of impulses and associations. The story is something we build because we have to. Continue reading “A Feast for the Senses” →
I was sitting on a ferris wheel reading about John Bercow. Some people would call this rock bottom.
I don’t know what it says about the times, or about me. You could say that the internet has destroyed all our attention spans. You could call it Brexit Derangement Syndrome. Or maybe it’s more specific to me. But sitting there in that little red capsule I’d commissoned on a whim to mark the last night of this phase of my journey, my eyes were drawn to the little flat screen instead of the bright lights of Kobe outside1. Continue reading “Finis (Travelogue Part 7: Takehara- Kobe)” →
(Credit for all camp photos goes to English Adventure’s fantastic photography team. Thanks so much for all these.)
I want to start with a vignette that sums up my week perfectly. Continue reading “Sunlight through Trees, and how not to Use a Kayak (Summer Camp, Week 2)” →
Is there a word for this kind of exhaustion? The kind that seeps into your bones and makes you speak in tongue-tied. I don’t know; but I survived. First week of summer camp down, and no serious injuries, no lost children, and (contrary to expectations) very little vomit. I’m now back in Tokyo, where the weather is relatively cool and the sleek Bamboo-Scandinavia of Tokyo Midtown (see below) is dragging me back to the 21st Century. Here’s my debrief. Continue reading “Bugcatcher Generals (Summer Camp, Week 1)” →
The days are long here in the cloudlands, but the mornings are breathtaking. Continue reading “The Clouds Live Around Us” →