Thursday, July 28, 2011


Back in Japan, after nearly five years! Actually it's even more than that since I had a proper visit. From 1987 I spent three and half years here (1987-89, 1992-3) and visited faithfully every year until my Paris year 2001-2; after the two visits in 2004 and one in 2006 it was just the few days stopovers between Australia and California in January 2007. Much has changed in all this time, and on a first day back it's hard to distinguish the silent oppression of this hot season (I was last here in this season in 1995) from the particular anxieties of this year, with the full consequences of natural disaster and political weakness still unknown. Anyway, the Keisei train to Nippori felt like a local country train (it's not) with people in teeshirts and shirtsleeves and minimal air-conditioning. A dirty white sky made all colors dull except for some fields of ripening rice, whose green was luminous. As we approached Tokyo through clusters of new high-rise apartments this shape appeared on the left. It's the Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest tower in the world, and twice the height of its predecessor the Tokyo Tower. You would have heard of it, I'm sure, had the day it reached its full height in March not been the day of the earthquake. It was unharmed, but not the return to global player status it was meant to show...

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