Landed back in Melbourne yesterday morning. Been unpacking and napping.
Woke up this morning feeling the usual… “Did all that really happen?” and the altered sense of reality that accompanies most international travel. The weather is so, so chilly and just came to the realization that my last real winter was actually early in 2006 … absence has not made the heart grow fonder for the season however.
I decided a while back to post the last two weeks in review due to the lack of internet access while in Japan. I got tired of lugging my old G4 around town and plugging in at random, smoky internet cafes and as the clock ticked down to my departure all I wanted to do was unplug and experience.
Saturday 9th : Began painting the mural for the wall in the men’s toilet in Joint Bar in earnest…this coincided with the monthly Jam Session there. Kenji, a most excellent drummer, decided I should join in and made me honourable tweaker of the echo dial, DJ Andrea was born. Session ended with much praise from the audience and was asked for encore.
During my ‘live painting’ session I had several questions regarding why all my characters looked so lonely … I told those concerned it was more of a pensive or thoughtful expression I was going for. Should I swap professions and DJ instead?
Sunday 10th : Was planning on heading into Tokyo for my friend Darin’s Birthday party but a combination of no sleep and rain, rain, rain made me decide to head back to Joint during the day and put some more hours into the mural. Watching Japanese TV and eating a combinni (convenience store) lunch in the empty bar. Sunday afternoon became Sunday night and I moved outside for ‘live painting’ once more. A bunch of oyagi (old men) salary men came in around 9 pm, not your average customer at Joint Bar, I managed to capture their attention and sell them some badges. Much interest was made of my sketchbook and again some questions regarding why I like Japan so much… if only I could answer them. Spent around 10 hours painting altogether.
Tuesday 12th : Headed in to Tokyo to an exhibition at the Teien Art Museum in Meguro and sell one of my prints. Travelling on the familiar Sobu-sen into Tokyo I decide to put my folio holding a print for a friend/customer on the shelf above me…. don’t normally do this….. it wasn’t until a line change and two stops closer to Meguro that I realized I no longer had it. Sinking feeling… the guy at the station was not much help but handed me a card and pointed at a number I was supposed to call. I called and in my basic Japanese I explained what had happened, describe what it was, which car I was in and where its location…no small feat actually. Then my phone hung up… goddam prepaid phones in Japan! Frustration level : extreme. Due to the realization that I would most probably spend the rest of the day on this issue.
It was another hour searching for a convenience store and finding someone to help me work out how to add the new amount to my phone until I could call the ‘lost and found’ again. I was told he would call back but that no doubt it would not be until the trains final destination that he would know…. and he was right. The train reached Zushi and a station hand retrieved my folio.
If I was to retrieve the parcel today however I too would have to make the long and boring trip to Zushi (a small seaside town just past Kamakura) over an hour away. Two hours and 20 minutes later I was back in Shinjuku on the Yamanote sen and searching for yet another internet cafe as said (pain in ass) phone also does not have internet access or email functions meaning anybody who has tried to contact me regarding dates and times I can only check in these dark and smoky dens where I contemplate what the bodies who have sat in the chair before me have actually done in here, what that tissue box is for and why you need a ‘ladies only’ section.
Lucky I checked my 7 o’clock is now an 8 0’clock and I have decided to meet up with little bro as well.
Have an excellent time with the lovely Sarah who is even more gorgeous in real life as she is online and get a chance to catch up finally with Scott and Tomoko.
They give me way too many presents once again and I apologize profusely for not getting a chance to meet up with them in Kyoto. Head home on the last train and spend most of the ride squashed in the teeny connector between carriages rocking around and moshing against the huge rubber concertina like stuff with another guy who looks decidedly embarrassed by having to share the space with me and all my luggage. Have an immense urge to shout out “What is it all for!” just to see what peeps would do. Resist the urge but now regret that.
Wednesday 13th : After, once again, very little sleep get up way too early to head to the beach with the usual suspects, Jun, Kumi, Onnoman, Yuriwa, Teshi and TKR. The weather was just too lovely to resist! Later that night we headed off again to an Okinawan Restaurant, ate my new favourite food (mozuku) got happily and delightfully drunk on Awamori and then headed to a game centre for purikura and UFO catching fun. Realized I was really off my nut when someone asked me the time and I spilled my drink on my when I looked at my watch. Called Poppa around 2am very drunk.. he he he. Three hours of Karaoke… 5 am drive home in broad daylight. WTF is with the early sunrise here in Japan.
Thursday 14th : Decide to make another go of trying to head into Tokyo. After some very obsessive checking and re-checking of luggage I abandon the train and call Yonghow to find out which exit he wants to meet me at.
Finally meet up with Yonghow, a Singaporean (who I thought was Korean!) living and working in Tokes as an animator, he meets me at Ogikubo Station. He is working on ‘The Freedom Project‘ a film made for by the same animator as ‘Akira’, Katsuhiro Otomo.. he’s living my dream but made it sound like a nightmare with 18 hour days and being on call anytime. He is an incredibly sane and lovely guy even more so considering his work schedule and insane pressure of his job. Please take the time to read his blog its a great insight into what it’s like to work in animation in Japan.
Meet up with my friend Ange at Tokyo station where we have a long and strange conversation on our mobile phones about where we both are only to find we are on opposite ends of the same platform. Then its a long D and M session on the train to Kaihim Makuhari, I remember how cool it is to talk like this when you know most probably no-one around will be eaves dropping due to the fact they can’t understand a word we are saying. Ange has decided to leave the big smoke that is Tokyo as it is making her feel old, she’ll be gone in 6 weeks. We meet up with Yoshiko and Mayuko at an excellent all you can eat organic restaurant… I manage 3 plates and dessert as well. Nice.
Friday 15th : Finally get to see the exhibition at the Teien Art Gallery in Meguro. I will blog about this in a later post as it deserves more … granted it was a lovely experience and I wandered the space with a smile plastered all over my face. Then visit one Akihabara and rub shoulders with fellow otaku then its off to one of the coolest suburbs in Tokyo, Shimokitazawa, this place truly rocks but should not be entered unless you have money to burn. I didn’t. Then Akasaka to meet up with little bro again and surprise his ‘cute as a button’ girlfriend Tomoko. She’s working in a bar called ‘Drunk Bears’ which for some reason I keep referring to as ‘Drop Bears’ much to the amusement of little bro. I invite Nico, an old friend of mine and we eat and drink and talk about marriage and why not to do it. I spy a palm reader at the station and decide to hand over 3000 yen. I have always wanted to see one of these people ever since seeing the animation ‘Akira’… I am not one for believing in fate that much but some seriously creepy ‘coincidences’ have happened of late and I was armed with two fluent Japanese speaking guys who I trust. She gave me answers to my questions but all of them I pretty much had figured were things I should do anyhow…. it was less about what will happen in the future and more like my mother telling me what to do. She looked a little lost for words at times but I just kept asking questions and making sure I got my 3000 yens worth. I have taken more notice of my ‘omikuji‘ I since bought from the shrine, cause it was lucky.
Saturday 16th : Head off to Nishi-Funabashi it meet Mikish an artist I met at Design Festa. Turns out we are around the same age, her work is an eastern view of the west and mine a western view of the east. She it taking time off work and seems to be having a very Murakami Haruki time about it… nice. I will blog more about her soon as we have made some big plans together. Head to Yuzawaya for some extra bits and pieces while Scott enquires about framing his two prints I just handed over to him. This takes an abnormally long time … we seperate at Tsudanama station and I hope that it is not too long before I see him again. Head back to Chiba and buy 30,000 yen of children’s clothes for someone else’s children. Drag myself and packages back to Joint Bar where I put in a last session on the mural… can’t say I am real happy with it but have seriously learnt so much I from the experience I am glad I did it. Jun will write a little note saying it is unfinished and that it is done by an Australian artist, Jun is such a cutie but him and his family deserve a post all to themselves.
Sunday 17th : It’s a beautiful day, warm and humid, how the hell could one month have slipped by so fast? I ride Jun’s bike into the city. Have I done much, my bank account tells me I have but I ache for more time here. I head to old haunts, the coffee shop and then Chiba Shrine. The Shrine is crowded with new babies and parents, there appears to be a ceremony going on and there are lots of photos being taken of nicely dressed families. I throw money, ring bells, pray and write on charms and hang them with the hundreds of other wishes. I watch as two tiny girls light incense and try to grasp the smoke in their hands and direct it to their faces and bodies. The incense is thought to have healing powers. When they leave I do the same.
I head off to worship another God, consumerism, drop a bunch of cash at the 100 yen, Yodabashi (Nano for Poppa) and Village Vanguard, quite possibly the best store in the world. Take some final purikura and then it’s a sweaty ride home with my purchases and a rushed pack before I bundle myself into Jun’s car and head for the airport.
Jun hangs out with me and my immense amount of baggage, then Kumi arrives and later Onnoman and Mune. We drink some last beers together and recall all the new in jokes we made this time around.
This time I don’t cry all the way home on the plane but I feel something real weird, when the part of me in transit returns I might be able to describe it but right now weird is all I can say.
I have uploaded lots of new pics on Flickr so go ahead and check ’em out.