Thursday, 18 May 2017

With Yoshino

A whole afternoon with my Japanese sister Yoshino in her neighborhood Nishi-Ogikubo. We had been talking about it for quite some time and it only happened today. I had been to Koenji last year with Yuichi and was quite enchanted by the area. Yoshino was certain I would love Nishi-Ogikubo even more.

“I have a present for you, Yoshino said after lunch, but we have to go to this tea shop. I hope they’re there…”   

A jovial, bespectacled man with long grey hair attached in a bun was sitting on a bench in front of the shop.  
”He’s an artist”, Yoshino told me.

The man stood up to greet me with a luminous smile.

”He does cut out portraits. He will do yours. That’s my present” Yoshino added.

I was invited to sit on the bench. The man took out his scissors and a square shaped piece of paper. He was humming and talking to himself as he was looking at me and cutting the paper in quick, precise movements. The result came just a few minutes afterward. Not quite looking like me. 

“It looks more like Chan!”  Yoshino remarked. 
”Not the hair! The hair here is definitely mine!” We both laughed. 
I was nonetheless very grateful for this gift.
Before I left, I was given a fortune cookie. It said “Be carefree in your life”. Exactly what the gods at the BaoAn temple said to me. There is no coincidence. I have to trust it more and more. 

Yoshino took me to a gallery shop displaying local artists’ work, photographs, music instruments, ceramic, CDs… I allowed myself a photozine about Tokyo – maybe I could submit some of my own photos for its next publication…?, antique shops – no, no, no and no! I shall not yield, bookstores – one of them a children bookstore where I discovered the wonderful work of Tada Jun an illustrator friend of Yoshino’s. Strange, but not surprising now to me, when I find myself in a shop and an invisible force pushes me toward a particular item that is to become part of my life. There was no question whether I liked Tada’s work. It not only spoke to me, I felt I had reacquainted myself again with a long forgotten memory. 

We walked up to a park with two large ponds, surrounded by woods. The peaceful atmosphere, the beautiful residential houses, the meandering streets and alleys eased my mind. I was enjoying myself. “Just as the fortune cookie told you” Yoshino said with a smile. 
I was happy to spend this time with her.
A long time ago, her father Masato was having hope Yoshino would marry whether my brother or me. Even if it did not happen, I could feel Masato’s beaming presence with us as we were walking silently on the street of Nishi-Ogikubo.

Le bal des actrices

I just watched Le Bal des Actrices. A French film directed by Maiwenn which catches candid moments of the life of 15 actresses. Looking like a part documentary fiction in a fiction film, part musical, the film is meant to be an ode to female actresses in France with their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, contradictions… and neuroses. Some of the scenes couldn’t help but recall my latest film casting experience for ‘The Translators’. Whether I got the part is still a mystery, but I guess that silence from their side means that they have found somebody else. But who knows? After I did the first test, I was convinced I was so bad that I wouldn’t hear from them and I got a message a couple of weeks later...
‘Le Bal des Actrices’ however touched the main core of all the questions that have been deeply troubling me in recent months, to which the gods of the BaoAn temple gave me the simple answer: to learn to truly enjoy myself because that is simply what I have to do. Watching those actresses in the film, I also had a look at my own neuroses, self doubts, longing for love and recognition, fear of not being good enough – never good enough, the acute awareness of time going by inexorably… I found some consolation in the fact that I am not an actor, so didn’t expect much. But still, the excitement to be cast in a film at this stage of my life was starting to rise to the surface. The one consolation is that experience has hardened me a little more and that I don’t let myself be defeated by disappointment, be it love, work or friendship.
There are always some new music to discover, some new sights to photograph, so new faces to contemplate, even briefly.
I just replied to a message by Jan who is throwing himself in escapism, going out at night and getting drunk, feeling down and guilty the next day, going out again, repeating the same cycle… To learn to enjoy oneself freely, without guilt seems like the hardest thing to do in a world where entertainment and fun consumerism have been turned into the only reward – or salvation, for an otherwise dull and distressing life. But enjoying oneself just for the sake of it isn’t something we are usually being taught, or told to do.  

But I am my best enemy and my mind knows exactly what to do to ambush me and the past year has showed how tricky and skilled I was at creating impossible situations.
I am dropping my old skins. My mind doesn’t want to be naked and desperately tries to cling on them. The process is exhausting.

My stay in Tokyo is a good training. 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017



Spring has come again in my life. Meeting new people. Opening up to new adventures or new discoveries…
Ryo contacted me on one of those many dating apps. Something about him intrigued me more. I liked his look: he really seemed genuine. And decent. We decided to meet up for a drink. His English was very basic – he admitted to be using a translator to write to me. Would I mind?
There was a café on Shinjuku-dori that I wanted to try, a small elevated wooden house sandwiched between two large and much taller buildings. I decided to take Ryo there.
Ryo punctually showed up at the given time. His broad smile immediately won me over. Yes, he was more than decent. There was something pure and almost innocent about him. He was only twenty seven. His look still bore the features of the high school student he was not so long ago and of the man he was becoming.
After the little drink, I suggested we explored the streets and alleys of Yotsuya. The evening promenade lasted for more than a couple of hours, a walk out of time during which the streets unveiled a story from olden time just for us.

The second date was in his office in Jimbocho. It had to be late because, like so many other salary men in Japan, he was working extra hours. We had ramen, then another long walk from Jimbocho to the Imperial Palace, then the Tokyo Station. The streets were practically deserted, except for some occasional joggers. I could glimpse at some people having a late dinner in some luxurious hotel restaurant. The air was delicately scented as we passed the gardens near the Imperial Palace. Ryo was quite talkative despite his limited English.
“I like quiet places” he said. “I don’t go to Shibuya or Shinjuku. I hate Shibuya and Shinjuku. Too many people everywhere…”

I was to spend the night at Ryo’s place. Quite surprising as Japanese prefer to meet up outside and seem to be reluctant to invite someone to their place so spontanously. Ryo’s flat was four stations away from Jimbocho. A little duplex in a recently built condo made of this industrial style concrete I find so elegant, and which is quite popular in Japan.
The boy has taste. Every object in the flat had been carefully selected. Though a little narrow, it was perfect for one person. He seemed delighted that I was there.  
It didn’t take long before we fell asleep, or shall I say before we seemed to be falling asleep. I was lacking hours and hours of sleep at Bong’s, between the drilling and construction work early every morning and the Korean TV program he watches online until his mind collapses and his eyes cann no longer keep open.
Another sleepless night… I was no longer used to be held in my sleep. The concrete wall I love to contemplate so much was cold to the touch, the bed was just fit for one person… After an hour, I sat up to take a deep breath. In my mind, thoughts that I obviously was no longer fit for all this dating game and staying over, the wish to just get out of that flat, and yet, the pleasure to be there. Ryo raised his head and started to kiss my chest and touch my nipples. Maybe he had been waiting for a sign all this time… The thoughts vanished and we made love. Ryo isn’t the sensual type, but he has a very strong sex drive that contrasts with his proper boy appearance.
We were exhausted and relaxed after sex and could finally find some sleep. When I woke up the next morning, his "hand was on my dick – and it felt amazing", as Iggy Pop would has sung in ‘In the Death Car’. Yes, I was glad I slept over. Glad to let down my defenses and yield to a bit of genuine affection. Ryo showed me his neighborhood in daytime. “There are many coffee shops around here. They’re famous!” he said. We found one with a very minimalist decors and those concrete walls I like so much. Young and hip crowd – a ‘bobo’ area, as we would say in France.  The sun was shining, a warm weather, dry and a little windy. Who could ask for anything more?

Thursday, 11 May 2017


A day with Nolico is always a day of discoveries and excitement. We were to go see the Ryuichi Sakamoto exhibition together, but she suggested we went to another one first about the Raku family at the National Museum. The Raku family have been creating ceramic wares for more than six centuries, cups for tea ceremonies that were ordered by samurais and noblemen. Looking at each cup was to listen to a long saga, and all the cups wanted to be heard! I was overwhelmed. The pieces created by recent members of the family were more dated, when those done five or six centuries are so modern and timeless.
We sat down in the room with a view on the fourth floor, contemplating the Imperial Palace in front of us. Precious moment.

The Sakamoto exhibition was held at the Watari Museum, one of my favourite museums in Tokyo. An abandoned small building with a fresco painted by Keith Harring, waiting to be restored is setting the tone. The exhibition consisted in three parts: a video installation based one filmed natures mortes of Sakamoto’s house and garden. As the image slowly become abstract digital paintings, we could hear some of the tracks from his new album. Also music that verges more toward the abstract, giving us a hint of what inhabits his mind: quietness and rebirth after the cancer he had been fighting a couple of years ago. At the entrance books, handwritten scores and photos that inspired him were in display. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that his music handwriting was quite similar to mine!
On the second floor we were invited to step in a dark room with small screens on the walls, each of them showing one of those natures mortes that were used for the video installation. In the basement, four turntables were at the disposal of those who wanted to listen to the album. To keep things still personal, Sakamoto used test pressing of the album. The basement was also the museum shop, with many of Sakamoto’s albums, DVD and books available. Fortunately, I had been browsing many second hand shops and found more than my bargain of Sakamotoralias. 
This journey into Sakamoto’s world was soothing for me. It gave me confidence again. New ideas for the film score started to burgeon in the back of my mind. 

I felt happy that this man, this hero of mine came out victorious in his battle against cancer. His creativity seems to have completed its full cycle and now begins a new birth. Sickness allows us to let go of the unnecessary, keep the essential and make room for something new.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

A day ... no more

A Day… no more

A little more than a month ago, William contacted me again. Messages on LINE. I was reluctant to reply to him. He told me that he was a single man, that he was now living in Keelung in the flat where we had a few of our love escapades, years ago.
I was happy to hear from him, curious to know what he’d have to tell me, hopeful that he would finally declare himself to me. But I didn’t let my joy be shown. We kept on writing to each other. I was glad we were in touch again, despite some suspicion that nothing was really clear with him – as had been the case since the beginning of our relationship. As the days went by, I nurtured again the idea that perhaps this was the time for us to be together at last.
Before I left for Japan, I let down my guard and told him how I felt, how I had always felt. His hesitation to reply with words confirmed doubts that the feelings were perhaps not reciprocated.
We talked about driving to some remote places. It would be more accurate to say that I mentioned it first. “We could do that when you come back” was his reply. I was content. “I really cannot live without you in my life” I wrote. Silence was his reply.

Until this morning when he wrote that he had to tell me something. That he now had a new boyfriend. Blood stopped in my veins. I was so angry. He played with me again. Consciously or not. Willingly or not. He did.
It was the time to put a final stop to it. I asked him to no longer try to contact me again anymore and deleted his account – as if it could really be of any use.
I was not only angry. I was broken. Once again I let myself be fooled by some old Prince Charming delusion. At the age of 47 it was pathetic. If last year, the goodbye had me laugh out loud, this time the sentiment was morose and grey.
So, goodbye again.

And fuck you!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Lost and found

Lost and found

I had my new credit card. It had arrived the morning of my departure. The Chronopost service claims to deliver the good international within two days, but it actually was a week.
Everything was fine, I was ready for Tokyo.
I was to arrive at 1 a.m. in Haneda. Bong said he would wait for me at his office, as he usually works late. “I live in Shinjuku” he wrote. He didn’t elaborate. Was he still living in his flat in Nerima? The Shinjuku district is large.
It started when I arrived at the airport and wanted to retrieve some cash at the atm machine. The card was rejected. I didn’t understand. In order to activate a new card, using it at an atm machine was enough. On the second try, the card wasn’t even recognised. I attempted another time when I bought the bus ticket. The lady looked embarrassed as she told me the card was rejected. “Do you have another credit card?”. The question was synonymous of nightmare. 
Luckily, I still had a bit of Taiwanese money that I changed and so could get my ticket for the bus. But I felt ashamed, angry and exasperated. I suspected that my bank may have sent me the wrong card. I would find out the next day.

My arrival I Shinjuku made me forget my worries temporarily. The streets were nearly deserted. In Tokyo, they are never totally deserted. You can always feel the human vibration in some hidden bars or restaurants, or you see lone drunk workers leaning against a wall, or stagger their way home after a long evening with colleagues.
I was elated to be back. At last. To be in Tokyo, a city I adore. Nothing could really go wrong. I didn’t quite remember where Bong’s office was. Finding one’s way in Tokyo is a challenge. Getting lost as I am trying to locate a particular (CD) shop is one of my favourite past time. I vaguely remembered that his office was near an old bookstore, was close to a Tully’s coffee, that the street was just the next one after the Gyoen Shinjuku Park, that the gay district was on the other side of the street. But the bookstore apparently no longer was – it had closed, Bong told me later. I recognised the building opposite his office, but couldn’t find the door.

After one hour wandering the streets, I gave up and decided to spend the night at a mangakissa, as I had done the previous year. I was deep in my thought, sleepily making my way back to Shinjuku station when a guy on a bicycle passed me and startled me. It was Bong!