Sunday Nostalgia: Pink! at Warehouse, Tokyo 2007

A late night in Azabu Juban.

Continue reading “Sunday Nostalgia: Pink! at Warehouse, Tokyo 2007”

A Long Trip

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I always take note of August 23rd. It was on that day in 1998 — so long ago now — that I set out alone to travel for the first time. I took the train from Dundee to London, then, although I’d never used an underground before, made it to Heathrow and onto a flight to Tokyo with an onward ticket to Australia. Each step of the way, I advanced by copying people around me. I followed strangers onto the tube, through the airport, and then, seated on the plane, watched my neighbor snap apart then position her fingers around chopsticks, and then imitated her — I was going to Japan, on a Japanese airline, and had never tried to use chopsticks before.

For each action, I chose to copy rather than to ask. I was painfully shy and that, perhaps, was the reason I was travelling. Travel would make me a better person, I hoped, more confident.

The thought of travel had been on my mind for as long as I remember. It started with a path behind one of the big fields in my small village. Time and again, I imagined myself walking down that path to … where? I imagined myself just walking and walking; entering the world that remained stubbornly outside of mine. Even as I grew older and the world became bigger, I never did walk down that path. I chose instead to go further, and so it was that on August 23rd 1998 I got on a flight to Tokyo, a destination chosen for no good reason. Maybe soon, to mark 15 years of setting out to travel, I should take a walk down that path.

Where Are We Now?

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I have been walking through Tokyo to the rhythm of David Bowie’s Where Are We Now. My walks, like the song, are a steady rereading of place names remembered, retreaded; names that are memories and walking through them just to feel their familiarity.

Just walking the dead.

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When he sings, “had to get the train from Potsdamer Platz. You never knew .. that I could do that.” I recognise that odd sense of achievement in reaching the familiarity where you make a city your own. A city that you trust you have earned your right to wax nostalgic about. A city to whom you can say Tadaima! (I’m home), when you arrive at it’s airport for the first time in years. Or, a city that can be the focus of your comeback single when no-one has heard a peep out of you for nearly a decade and it makes sense. N├╝rnberger Strasse, Aoyama, Dschungel, Azabu Juban … the places are a part of you.

I can get a train anywhere in Tokyo. I can glance at the Metro map and compile a route, including transfers, in seconds. You could drop me on a street anywhere in this city and my feet would find the way home.

Ah, but home, It’s not really home anymore though, is it? I’m just walking the dead.

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