’76 Wandering the Streets of Kobe

“Not all that wander are lost.” 

Or something to that effect. There is a quote like that somewhere out there. It’s easy to forget when looking from the outside in what the motivation is when someone looks lost. Finding oneself in the midst of a foreign land in a foreign culture with a foreign tongue. In so many ways the similarities are the same its just the approach that’s different. 

It was easy to forget the day that passed. Not much happened not much was seen. When the sun shines brightly life starts all over again. Each day brings to it something unique something that will never happen again even if it feels the same. On the road uniqueness is easy to see as its not a well trodden path that can be navigated even after a long night out. Stop for a second and notice that new leaf that sprouted from that tree or the fresh coat of paint on that neighbors house. You’ll see that changes happen all the time. A drop will take a newer path when it drips onto your hand. Your mind already anticipates the feeling of its impact when it reaches your skin. That first time and each thereafter will add that something new to the reflex you’re not conscious of but one that’s always there. 

So I set out in the early afternoon having spoken for sometime with friends and family over Skype. It’s really good to talk sometimes even if it’s through a medium that lacks that personal touch. It has to do with expression something that’s gone over the phone but it’s even better than texting where all intonation is gone. The timbre in the voice really has a lot of meaning just watch tv without the volume on. 

I walked so many miles it felt like some pent up energy needed to be gone. Had some breakfast/lunch at a diner by the road. Tiny little place but something drew me in maybe the thought of dumplings steamed to a familiar squish but I ordered something else equally delish. I slurped it up like others there as these are the manners here. Gone are the requirements of a prim and proper manner of consuming every meal. It makes for a relaxed atmosphere and I enjoy this kind of thing. The sound of someone slurping up their noodles, chewing loudly and chomping deep fried things is foreign to my ears but accepted as the way it’s done here. 
The only way is forward but the way to get there varies. Left here and a right there but something looks interesting over there. Not quite sure what to make of this and there are some bottlenecks that I have to abide by or else I won’t make it there on time. There is a destination a plan of some sort. A contemporary art museum and then to observe the city from a mountain up above. This will take me through the city providing that structure that my mind seems to crave. Simple enough. 

The road is long and for a while there it took me by the waterfront past docks with empty ships and some that are being fixed. It took me by shrines and houses, blocks of apartments, malls and the like. I went by the tower I visited the day before and a Ferris wheel every city seems to have one or at least that’s what it seems. I admired the cleanliness of their construction sites as well as their industrial sites. I liked the cute statues and the ones that were stark and abstract in their meaning. The sum made everything seem crisp and bright. I’ve managed to figure out how to capture this light. How to set the controls to let in what I see while infusing it with some impressionalistic meaning and frame it just right. 

There are a lot of things on display there were many more people out enjoying the day. There was still that calm quiet atmosphere I’ve found over here. It gives it a quiet meditative aspect to all that I see. The city is compact while still having space. The sense of vastness has a different meaning here. It’s scaled down a little even though the distance is there. There is a level of abstraction to everything as well. The uniforms and look that people have. The way they dress and interact. Bowing is their one peck on each cheek. 

There was a glass cube that I came across that served as a reminder of what happened here. There was a memorial as well back by the waterfront a reminder of what happened here back in ninety-five. An earthquake hit and leveled parts of the town. The memorial spoke for itself but this cube was something I didn’t expect. It’s called the “Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution” and in the light it shone like a beacon reflecting the light. It looks like some kind of research facility while at the same time reminding all what happened then. It’s looking forward while still remembering the past it is a line that is moving from a point. How many things can happen to a people but they keep getting up. 

The art that I saw wasn’t what I was expecting. In retrospect I bought a ticket to the wrong exhibition. The artist in question was reknowned over here and is still active even though she is over ninety years old. The things she has seen and done in her time! Her retrospective traces her constant inventiveness and as far as I see she has become more abstract towards her later years. She searched for new things by going abroad in order to see and inspire her to do even more. I really liked her use of color. To punctuate and exaggerate and sometimes to mute a subject or thing. Her love of nature is strong and she had some themes that she kept coming back to from time to time. I guess those were the things on her mind. I wondered if she opened her mind when she went to Mexico by partaking in ritual foreign in her land. 

It was off to the mountain for the last leg of today’s trip. I walked up the hill to reach the ride that would take me to much higher heights. The cable car was packed and the gondola swayed in the wind and bumped the concrete as we docked. For one it was a bit much but it made me kinda laugh. What wasn’t funny was the chilly air up there when I got off. Foolish me for forgetting to bring something warm. I was going to chill to the bone if I stood there waiting for the darkness to come. I cought the last moments of sunshine through the trees. It was quite spectacular but I wasn’t pleased that much. There was a plan that materialized as I climbed down the path and made my way back to the observation deck. 

I went into the cafe and got something to eat and was fortunate enough to get me a good seat. I was right in front of a bay window watching as it got dark waiting for the right time to go out there to capture this sight. Another lost soul grabbed the stool right beside but I offered her a seat on the bench so she sat beside me. Lee-Lee was from China but knew Japanese as she lived here for a decade before returning back. We swapped our stories as the day turned to night. She was a bit worried that her English wasn’t right I told her I understood her quite alright. She lived in Shanghai now but longed to come back here to Japan where she liked it a lot. She moved because her husband’s job took him there. She is visiting Japan now to see the things she never did while here. 

A job is a job sometimes you like it sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you never get to do what you’ve always wanted or figure that out. Being pushed and pushed to be the best but at what cost. The pressure she said was great to succeed but what if you’re not happy with what you’ve achieved? The line up was long for my ride to get down so I asked her if she could give me a ride. She had a car that she borrowed for the day and she accepted my offer without delay. We drove in the darkness down the windy mountain road. She felt a bit nervous as she doesn’t normally drive. I reassured her that she was doing fine. She was going to return the car and at the same time drop me off at a station as her hotel wasn’t too far from there. It was a good conversation and she told me that she was glad I was there to help her navigate and get her car there. Her sense of direction wasn’t quite all there. 

We said our goodbyes and went on our way I to my station she to her hotel. A line in the sand that shouldn’t be crossed. The drunken ride home I know it’s too late now to go out on my own. Things start and end early in line with the transport to get them back home. You can see it on some faces as libations took their hold. The eyes look quite weary and their focus is a bit off. No matter I’ll save my energy for Tokyo as I’m sure it’ll go off. 


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