June 11th, 2014

hasui rain

Into my heart an air that kills

It's rainy season weather: cool, grey, humid; horrific when the sun is out, like breathing through a wet towel, but all gentle melancholy when it's not. Bicycling to work today I was caught in a wash of memory from my first June in Tokyo. Jerry and Deana's apartment where I periodically and illegally crashed, reading a popular history of Oo-oka Echizen- slooowly, because I used Hadamitzky and Spahn to look up unknown kanji- while the rain plashed outside.

But what came to me clearer, in that momentary flash of memory, was how tatty Tokyo struck me on first acquaintance. The details are no longer with me as to what and why. Ikebukuro was tatty, of course, and frequently downright dirty: the ryokan was around the corner from bars and clubs and love hotels, and the wet morning pavement was covered in ground-up paper from advertising flyers and what-all. But inoffensive Higashi Fushimi? Which looks a lot cleaner than I remember it: a new station, I fancy. Maybe just that the living standards of 90s Tokyo, as expressed in their buildings, were still far below what a reasonably affluent Canadian was used to. No brick buildings, no substantial houses, nothing solid and unmoving: everything feeling short-term and for the duration and likely to disappear. As, indeed, much of the Tokyo I knew has disappeared, replaced by new cheap housing that will be gone, or tatty, in twenty-five years. (I look at my icon and think that, really, wood houses that disappear are fine, because wood isn't meant to endure. But Japanese houses are built of aluminum and ceramic brick: materials not meant to be evanescent, but which are.)