Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Monday morning, Kurashiki

Late Sunday, on just three hours sleep, drove down to Kurashiki for no real reason at all. I came here on my first morning in Japan and 11-plus years later I still love the place. Just spent six months bemoaning the fact that I miss Western "culture," then escaping to Tokyo two or three times a month to try to drown in it. Yet on a quiet Monday morning I was reminded why I love being in this country, surrounded by the weathered. (Though the weathered opinions and mindset I can often do without.)

Walking Hondori as it awakes. Light snow falls on storehouses whose beams were purposely blacked by flame. Pass a small temple, apparently empty. Yet just inside the doors, someone has left tea and mikan and rice crackers for those who may come by to pray. Stop for coffee in a jazz club at 10a.m. Itself a former storehouse, thick beams bisect white plaster walls. In the morning, jazz clubs have a completely different atmosphere. Sunbeams hang instead of smoke. It feels open and airy, rather than the usual dark, jazz-hovel feel of night. A cloud passes and the light coming thru the window is suddenly cut as if the slatted shutters were closed. When the sun returns, the stained glass throws blue and red shadows on a fern. And the recorded sound of jazz is pure, without the additional nighttime treble of tinkling glass and bass of laughter.

On the turntable: Merle Haggard and the Strangers, "Honky Tonkin'"

1 comment:

littleone said...

Kurashiki is where I was born & brought up. Glad to know you like to come over.