Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lost in Munich

Yesterday, I wrote something which, with the benefit of hindsight, seemed to foretell what to happen.

"In any case the soft beauty of Krakow as I approached it from the suburbs enthralled my heart. I even wished that something would happen to make a prolonged stay necessary. I would then well be in exile in Krakow, with a novel and strange pleasure in my heart. I would try to learn the unfamiliar language as a expatriate..."

Due to the activities of a volcano in Iceland, many European flights were cancelled, including mine from Krakow to Munich, from where I was planning to take a Tokyo flight. The moment I learned of the cancellation, a hectic effort to reach Munich or to find alternative routes back home started, as I had an important Sunday public dialogue planned between me and Professor Toshihide Masukawa, the much beloved and respected Nobel laureate of Physics.

I sped through the Polish, Czech, and then German soil on a series of cab rides. However, at the end of the day, I was stuck in Munich.

Now the situation looks very uncertain. I am lost in translation, and have no definite prospect of going home.

At the moment I need to check out of my airport hotel. I have literally no idea what I would do next. All I know is that I would go to the airport counter and discuss the situation with Lufthansa people.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The spell of Poland

From Frankfurt, I flew to the ancient Polish capital of Krakow. Already on the way to the city center, I was seized by the poignant beauty of the scenery as it passed by the Mercedes window. I remembered that this was my fist time to enter the Polish soil.

To be precise, on my first ever trip to U.K. I used the Polish airline LOT. The plane made a stop at Warshaw. It was well before the downfall of 1989. I remember vividly how people stood on the roof of the airport building, apparently seeing their relatives off to prosperity and freedom. At that time, there was this wall of professed ideologies between the "east" and "west". Despite that, I could only feel a sense of humaneness and warm eagerness from the Polish people waving goodbye from the balcony.
Arriving in London, I fell in love with its culture instantly, a love that lingers on to this day. Looking back, however, U.K. seemed to be rather practical and too organized compared to what impression I had in that brief encounter with the Polish people from a distance.

Poland was like that white spot in your Cafe au lait as you mixed it.

Time flew. I cam back to Poland after so many years.

In the afternoon, I was planning to visit the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. Maybe my nerves were little bit tense in anticipation, already on my way to Krakow, where I was planning to deposit my back at the Grand Hotel. In any case the soft beauty of Krakow as I approached it from the suburbs enthralled my heart. I even wished that something would happen to make a prolonged stay necessary. I would then well be in exile in Krakow, with a novel and strange pleasure in my heart. I would try to learn the unfamiliar language as a expatriate..

I visited the place of atrocity. On my way back on the car, I found myself very exhausted in body and soul.

After having supper in a restaurant called Aperitif, I returned to my hotel room, and before I knew it, I was sleeping on the bed. Probably as a result of the mixture of prior experiences, I had a strange dream. I was strolling in a calm and tranquil residential area, with nothing suspicious going on. However, a path would lead to abrupt end, where you would hang for your life on a cliff edge. Everywhere in the neighborhood, there were hidden falls, where carelessness would certainly result in the loss of your life.

I woke up in the small hours, convinced that it was already morning. I waked up my computer, to find out that a volcano has erupted in Iceland, emitting smokes which blocked number of airports in Europe.

I was planning to fly back to Tokyo via Munich. At the moment, only the northern airports in Germany was affected. But with the conditions of wind and the magma under ground, one never knows.

Maybe I am under the spell of Poland. My plane might not make it this morning. In that case, I might be bound in this beautiful city of Krakow. Nothing is certain at the moment. Maybe I might be able to fly after all, to fulfill the tight schedule of appointments back in Japan.

I thus find myself in a hung uncertainty this evening. I am still under the spell of Poland.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A night at the Semperoper.

On the last evening in Dresden, I went to a chamber concert in the Semperoper. An gentleman looking like Albert Einstein walked onto stage, with a horn in his hand. I became an instant fan of him.

He had a double role. A player in the orchestra and the conductor. Looking around me, I could appreciate that people really loved the music they were hearing. The warmth and vivacity radiated from the inside.

A civilization originates from cultures, expands on them and sometimes dilutes. In the modern era, it is rare to find a cozy and well-collected environment, where people come for an enjoyment that has been made flesh and blood through many years of experiencing, during and before their lifetime on earth. In the urban space, there's often too much traffic. Dresden proved to be a haven for the lonely soul.

As I let myself immersed in the sublimity of music my thought would wander again. Whatever I am going to do, feel, and encounter in days to come, must be put in the context of and generated from the spirits of things that are dear to me. Resting on moments of revelations that have accumulated inside me ever since my childhood. The strange acquaintances one makes and then appreciates in life. The Einstein man triumphed.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Dresden angel.

I was walking along the streets of Dresden, and found a bookshop. Dropping in, I wanted to by a Reclam.

The yellow cover and its small size has always been an attraction to me since my teens. The gems of German culture are represented in its pages. Browsing through, I chose "Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes" (The origin of art) by Martin Heidegger.

To imagine that long years of endeavors by an intellect are purified and compressed in books, paintings, and architectures, and other forms of expression is quite exciting. One wants to keep learning, thinking, and then letting out, very hard and strenuous, for ever and ever, as long as life on this earth lingers on.

There was a golden angel on one of the roofs in Dresden. Its throbbing beauty seemed to direct me to futures unlimited.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

High school dreams.

Though my present life style is hectic and occupied, it does not have a regular schedule. I don't go to the office at 8 o'clock every day. I am working incessantly, on the train, on the floor, under the tree, at the desk, in the classroom, in the studio, everywhere.

And yet, as where I would be physically on a given day varies so much, the only thing I can say for sure is that I would be connected.

Probably due to this status quo that has been going on for the last 10 years or so, I sometimes have a repeating dream. I am back in the senior high school, and with a horror of the moment of truth I realize that I have not been attending the classes for a long time. I think to myself, oh, what am I going to do? Maybe I will be expelled from school, perhaps now graduation is impossible.

Then I wake up, and realize that the high school days are long gone. Remorse mixed with a strange sweetness fills my heart. Yet another episode of my high school dreams is over.

In actuality, I attended my high school quite regularly, apart from breaks of a few days due to cold and flu. So the dreams distort the facts and memories, and probably reflect my deep psychology.

Although I wouldn't describe these dreams as nightmares, they do leave certain impressions on me. It is not that I am yearning for a regular life. I do enjoy the variety in my works. Most probably the dreams reflect my unrealized yearnings.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I am in Dresden now.

On the way to Frankfurt from Tokyo, I watched "Avatar". I was meaning to see this blockbuster film, but did not have an opportunity.

The visual effects were stunning, even on the small LCD screen on the airplane. The story was politically correct, with clear messages.

I have only words of praise for the efforts of the people who made the film. The commercial success was a testimony of lots of work put into it.

It is always interesting and rewarding to observe a powerful existence reflecting on its own power of destruction.

The endangered creatures were all lovely.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I started my life as quite a serious climber.

Japan is a very mountainous country. The larger parts of the nation are mountainous, making people inhabit the limited space of the plains. Thus, the congestion of the cities and jammed trains. The other side of the coin is that once you head mountain-wards, you find less people and more trees, alluring you into tranquility.

As a kid I really loved wandering in the mountains. Often I had a butterfly net in my hand, and was looking in every direction with an eager look. Other times I was just taking it easy, enjoying the scenery, thinking about my future still in the mist.

The "catch" in mountain climbing was that you don't have a clear idea where you are, or how close the peak was. Many times, you saw what appeared to be the top. Once you reached there, you discovered that it was just another hill on the way to the main peak. The path started to descend even. Although the descent was gentle and welcome for your tired legs, it also meant that once you went down, you had to go up eventually. You thought to yourself this was not very economical.

The ups and downs. The invisibles and visibles. Narrow sights and magnificent vistas. As I look back on my many childish ascents, I realize how well they could serve as metaphors for life.

The mountain metaphor colored my youth. I used to draw a mountain on the back of a calendar sheet, with dotted lines leading to the top. I would make progress marks as I finished reading a book, and approach the peak gradually. As I went upwards, I had the satisfaction of thing accomplished, and an imaginary feeling of dizziness.

Nowadays I stress the importance of spontaneity and playfulness, but I started my life as quite a serious climber.