I had a great time last night just eating and drinking with new friends. It was strange; I knew none of them except my former land-lady, who brought us all together, and now I have friends who are bests and all of them are neighbors.
Sachie Toida, who likes to be called “Pakky”, is a saint (and the owner of Pakky House in Otsuka – a great and beautiful share house at which you should stay in Tokyo, for many reasons, not the least of which are location, quaintness and the Japanese garden in the back yard) ー like that in the person of my mother! She insisted we get together and drink and, so I met her and her friends Keiko and the hilarious “Abie”, an acupuncture and massage teacher for the blind ー at a local down-to-earth Chinese eatery. Abie (pronounced “ah-bee”) was so unbelievably funny ー imitating foreigners doing Japanese speech ーhad me rolling with laughter, because coming from him it was nearly impossible not to see his impersonation as a Japanese man unable to speak his own language! He is like Peter Sellers! And he lives down the lane from me.
By the way, the walk home was amazing. My adopted neighborhood is something out of a dream, a cartoon, and somehow a sentimental stroll through the lanes of someone else’s memoriesーthe little alleys and very different houses, the warm but slightly spooky, tall, leafy green trees all in shadow and highlighted by street lamps and the peace park and sunken primary school all make me feel enchanted and delighted and sad at the same time.
And waking up on my tatami, in my little corner house, surrounded by young business people, parents and children racing off to school and work in the morning, with older folks who give the neighborhood its feeling of anchorage to the pastーthe crows crying out like friends on a train platform-in the brilliant morning sunlight warming me through the windows and glass doors in the midst of the powerful wind and AM chillーis too much against the idea that I am in the world I knew! Living like this in Japan is to be inside a story book!
Living in Itabashi, Tokyo, a mix of old houses and business and the new, is pleasantly surreal, and like when living in Korea, I miss friends and family on “the other side of the world”, but trying to describe and release these visceral and mental emotions and to avail myself of the tensions of my excitement and of their pent-up energy within me would be near impossible in text, voice-clips or a phone conversation lest I bore them and not satisfy myselfーso I write.