Thursday, February 15, 2007


The basic thesis is that memories of the past are not fixed. They transform themselves and change their shapes and appearances every time you return to them.

When I was into the low teens, I suddenly became seized by Lucy Maud Montgomery's "Anne of Green Gables" series. I first read all the Japanese translations, and went on to read the originals. It was actually the Anne series, together with J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, that kick-started my serious build-up of English as a foreign language.

I carried my enthusiasm somehow into the low twenties. I have been to Prince Edward Island twice.

Recently, I was reflecting on how I enjoyed this particular piece of juvenile literature, when I suddenly realized a hidden agenda.

One of the things that attracted me at that time was the beauty of the nature depicted in the writings. The famous landscapes in the novel such as "the lake of shining waters", "the haunted woods", etc. captured the imagination of the young me. I have been aware of this line of influence, but I had not realized that this sentiment had a lot to do with the destruction of environment that went with the rapid economical growth of Japan at the time of my childhood.

When I was a kid, the forests that I loved would be suddenly destroyed. As I visited my favorite woods after some period, it was not unusual to see the trees having been cut down, with bulldozers doing an immeasurable damage, revealing the bare soil, the men working seemingly without any pains in their conscience. As I look back, I realize that these incidents were deeply hurting to the naive person that was me.

Reflections make it seem likely that the Anne series in a sense provided the much needed psychological compensations for the natural beauties that rapidly disappeared from my childhood environment. Avonlea (the imaginary village in which Anne Shirley lives) represented in my mind an ideal place to inhabit where the enchantments of your childhood are preserved for ever, in a time capsule the existence of which is not to be hoped for in the real world.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Under cover

I experienced my first snow of this winter in the northern town of Yamagata, which I am visiting as one of the judges for the students' graduation work competition in the Tohoku University of Art and Design (TUAD). Mr. Tatsuo Miyajima, the renowned artist of digital magic, kindly invited me to this occasion. Mr. Miyajima is the vice president of the University.

Since I came to Yamagata yesterday, people have been mentioning the unusually warm winter, on the taxi, on campus, in the museum. The snow flakes, which started to fall from the sky as I watched out of the hotel window this morning, came as a relief and brought a sense of return to the normal.

As the white fall covered everything from the grounds to roads and roofs, for as far as I could see, I pondered on the soothing power of the "cover".

Leonard da Vinci famously drew a "see through" illustration depicting the various anatomical features of a man and a woman in the act of love making. A romantic sentiment thrives on things deeply buried under the surface, being enthralled by and drawn to hidden enigmas and the slightest hints.

Being hidden is not a patent of the immortals. The omnipotent thrives in its glory for the very reason that its essence and substance is eternally under cover.

We cannot live with unsolved mysteries. There is an essential nourishment for the soul in everything hidden. The incidental snowfall brought the much needed enlightenment to the world down under and myself.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


The composer Tetsuji Emura is working on a composition based on my poem (see the 31st December 2006
entry of this blog.)

When Tetsuji came to lecture at Geidai (Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music), he talked about how the composer John Cage used to love mushrooms.

Betraying the various connotations that swirled in the listeners' minds, Tetsuji went on to mention in a cool manner.

That is because the word "mushroom" is listed next to the word "music" in a dictionary.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The first kiss

The other day I went on air as the guest in the early morning FM radio program (on J-wave) hosted by the actor Tetsuya Bessho. When I asked Tetsuya how he distinguished acted love affairs on stage from the real ones in life, he replied that it was difficult to separate the two when he was young. I mentioned some films by Abbas Kiarostami, in which the stage and real life often get mixed, and a lively conversation followed.

Then Tetsuya said something quite interesting. For some female actors, especially those who make their debut early in life, it can so happen that their very first kiss takes place on stage in the process of acting. I could not get too emotional as I was on air, but I felt this strange pang in my heart and wept secretly in my soul.

There is a first time only once. To experience the first act of love's tender caressing on the stage, what a strange and enchanting procession of life it is! Acting, thrusted forward by the energy taken from the fountains of life, what an enigmatic occupation!

At the end of the day, however, intricate and often impenetrable arrangements by the divinity notwithstanding, the true first kiss must remain the one with whom one is bonded in heart.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Backsides of unturned stones

I am now in the westernmost town of the Honshu Island, Shimonoseki. I have come here to deliver a series of lectures.

This town is an unforgettable place in the modern history of Japan, as it served as one of the gateways to the external world. The connotations and contexts subdue with the passage of time, but memory remains, deep down in the psyche, transforming our everyday life as we know it.

Japan is a heavily centralized nation in terms of media network. Almost all the keystations of television are based in Tokyo, with a few exceptions in Osaka. There are certain tendencies and mannerisms that arise from this aerial asymmetry between Tokyo and the local towns, which I don't particularly like. I don't want to be thrown into this context of geopolitical asymmetry which many people actually take for granted.

When I visit towns new to my soul, I try to identify, beyond all the superficial appearances, an immobile structure withstanding the change of time, something beyond linear imagination, those which cannot be communicated or transported easily and therefore stand unnoticed for casual passers-by.

I try to picture in mind how life will be if I lived in the remote town. How I would develop my career, meet friends, weather an early morning rain, nurture and dream. I smell the scent of the long-forgottens, backsides of unturned stones, and the little fishes beneath the ever running water of life.

I try to tear the screens covering my inner eyes away so that I can see the world around me afresh.