Sunday, 22 December 2013

Last night in Niigata

I wanted to stay until the day of the last performance, but Noism didn't have enough budget to pay for an additional night at the hotel, so the alternative was to take the Shinkansen back to Tokyo after the second performance. The show was due to be over at around six thirty, the last train was at nine thirty. I even had time for a short dinner with Tsuyoshi and his friend Maki. 
But I eventually end up staying an extra night and I didn't get to see the last of the three performances. Things didn't go as planned. Just because my head was in the clouds. 
I had bid my farewell to all the members of the company. Satoshi had behaved like a primadona during the six days I was there (embarrassment? shyness? indifference?) and I could barely say anything more to him than the well deserved but flat congratulations after the performances and run-through. Only when he realised that he wouldn't see me the next day did he drop the attitude and gave me a sincere embrace. I don't know what is in his mind at present. My feelings for him are still intact, even if some time has passed and I don't expect anything more to happen. We're now both far away from those sunny summer days we spent together. Perhaps I'm of that rare breed that keeps emotions and memories very vivid in spite of the passing years. Time does not have any effect in that case.
The second performance was extraordinary. I watched it from the back stage seat. The same show, a different show and the feeling to witness parallel times in one blink.
I was proud of this work. I thought back then that it was my most ambitious work so far, and I still believe so. Photographer Kishin Shinoyama had come to take pictures of the general rehearsal - as his does for every piece, and also praised the new version. More compact, more straight to the point and more poignant, according to his words.

Dancers before the performance

Tsuyoshi and I went to the museum to see Shinoyama's exhibition. Beside his work with Noism I was only aware of the pictures of young sexy girls. Great was my surprise when I realised he was the author of the iconic John Lennon and Yoko Ono kiss, as well as the series of Yuiko Mishima posing as Saint Sebastian!!! I also discovered a beautiful series he took right after the Fukushima tragedy. Portraits of people who had lost their home or family because of the earthquake. A room with giant pictures of people looking at the camera, keeping their dignity even if the suffering is all too visible in their expression. That side of Shinoyama's was a big surprise to me. 
One thing leading to another, I was moved to realise full range of his photographic sensitivity and honoured to know him - even more to receive praises from him.

We ended our visit with a piece by Anish Kapoor which Tsuyoshi wanted to see. That was an occasion for a few good laughs when we started taking pictures, like two children at a fun fair.

Mikki brought her five year old son. A dynamic, adorable and sunny boy whom I had already seen three years before on my last day after the Hoffmann performances. He only stayed a few minutes, but I really fell in love with him!!!
"He can't stand still and always make jokes and sing all day long!!!" Mikki told me.
At first he was shy, but it didn't take him long to start running around and play with everything.
I thought of my own nephew.

Tsuyoshi took me and Maki to a charming little restaurant near the arcades. The place was deserted even if it was a Saturday evening. Maybe because of the cold or the rain...
I hardly had the time to eat the delicious dishes Tsuyoshi had ordered that I had to take the taxi to the train station. The Shinkansen was to leave at 9:33. I still had time but should not linger too long.
Everything was in Japanese, so I double-checked the information on the board. 9:33 train on platform 2. I still had fifteen minutes left. I bought a drink and a box of chocolate coated biscuit from the vending machine.
9:30, a local train was about to leave, but still no Shinkansen in view. Something was odd. The bullet train would usually be there at least ten minutes before the time... I looked up and saw a signboard which made me startle: for the Shinkansen follow THAT direction to platform 14!!! I carried and dragged my luggages as fast as I could, and when I arrived, the train was just leaving...
"I feel like the most stupid person on earth! I just missed the train to Tokyo" I wrote to Tsuyoshi. I walked around for some time before coming to a decision. Should I take the next local train which would arrive in Tokyo at 5 in the morning? Should I spend the night in one of those 24h internet cafés? Should I go back to the restaurant where Tsuyoshi and Maki were spending the evening? Should I stay and see the final performance the following day after I had made my farewell...?
The rain was falling heavily. I started to investigate the area around the train station: bars and red light spots for lonely (male) businessmen or travellers... I had a look at the price of the hotel rooms. I could not possibly spend the night in an internet café. Despite the instruction the girl gave me at the train station as I changed my ticket, I couldn't find it. Then I saw it: Single Inn. Room for 3600 yen a night. The rain was falling hard, I was soaked. That settled it. Single Inn it would be. 
The inn was shabby and dodgy. The room was miniscule, but comfortable enough for my extremely low standards. The kind of place where a runaway criminal would hide for one night.  
Tsuyoshi sent me messages urging me to come back and join them at the restaurant but I felt suddenly exhausted and didn't want to go anywhere. I had to take an early train the next morning. I ate my chocolate coated biscuits. It was a pathetically hilarious way to end such a glorious time in Niigata!
I bought some bath powder to soothe the stupidity of the situation. My stupidity! During the whole night, one client had his TV set at full volume, watching some anime with a girl yelling and whining constantly.

The streets of Niigata, near the train station

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