Interlude (Finland)

The flight back from Tokyo was with Japan Airlines which has changed a lot since the last time I flew with them. In the past they were chronically overstaffed so that meant that your every need was waited upon by several air hostesses. The company almost went bankrupt a few years back so I guess that they decided to change their ways. The service is still good and very friendly bit it is more comparable to other airlines.

I watched the movie “Still Alice” with Julianne Moore and Kirstin Stewart, both of whom were brilliant. Overall it was a very well scripted film and it dealt with Alzheimers in a thoughtful and responsible way. It is a real tear jerker but it is no way mawkish, the story us just incredibly sad.

We had a stopover in Helsinki on the way back too. I always wonder if I will meet Mia again by chance whenever I am there but the likelihood is tiny. I don’t know what we could say anyway. Although I have forgotten so many details from the past the last day I saw her at Helsinki station before getting the bus to the airport is one of the only ones that I can remember very specifically. That was twenty years and a lifetime ago.

The plane to Amsterdam takes two hours and I am mostly reading “cities of the plain” by  Cormac McCarthy and listening to HalfNoise, Paramore, Banks and Daughter whatever that might say. I am so full and travel weary. I want to get home and get clean and get on a diet.

Japan Diary #8

I got up very early and got ready quickly for the airport. The breakfast in the hotel started too late so it made sense to get to the JAL lounge at Narita to get a good morning feed.  

 I am glad that I kept a diary of this trip because it was a very important one. Japan has a special place in my heart and it meant a lot to come back after quite a few years away. I have changed a lot since the last time I was here. I don’t get my buzz from drink any more and that has set me free to explore in other ways. I liked being with the crowd some of the time but I got more than enough chances to find my own Japan. The years of studying Arts have sensitized me so that I am far more receptive now to art and architecture and natural beauty. I was not blind before but I see now with a heightened vision. The work I put in to Japanese really paid off as many interactikns happened that might not have been possible before and I think some colleagues could hear that my level has changed up a gear. I am still moving slowly but maybe in second rather than first. I have a long flight ahead to Helsinki but I am boarding the plane with the light heart of a man who has found what he was looking for. Until we meet again Japan, my love!

Japan Diary #7

My last day in Tokyo ended up being one of the nicest. I just got back from a delicious Indian meal with some colleagues and we had a really nice time with a great team spirit.
After my work day I took a train to Roppongi to visit the Roppongi Hills area which has a big shopping mall.
It also has the Mori Art Museum which gives you access to the City View on the 54th floor as well as the exhibitions. There was one on Star Wars and related artwrk but since I have no interest that one wasn’t so inspiting for me though many of the fans seemed to like it.
The other exhibition was really fantastic. It is called “Simple Forms: Contemplating Beauty” and it brought together all kinds of art work that takes its aesthetic from simple shapes and natural materials. So much of the work took something that was really obvious and made it into something pure and wonderful. There is an installation called “Liminal air space-time” by Ohmaki Shinji where a sheet of material floats suspended but alive above four air vents that is quite awesome.
There were gorgeous photos of Mount Fuji by Okado which captivated me. Other highlights were ‘Rays’, a giant rubber band installation, by Xavier Veilhan. The prism effect used in Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Round Rainbow’ and Anish Kapoor’s ‘When I am pregnant’.
There was also some wrk by very well known artists like Matisse’s “Jazz #9″ and Picasso’s “The Bull”.
The overall effect of the exhibition was electrifying and it was a real highlight of my visit to this great world city.
The views from the Tokyo City View were also rewarding showing just how far this city stretches, an endless mass of concrete and humanity
…interspersed with green parkland partially relieving the suffocation…
Sometimes I barely dared to look down….
…so I looked far away to the water at the edges of my sightline….
I visited the heights of Tokyo Tower years ago and it looks quite small from where I was standing…
I’ll sleep my final night and head for the airport after a great and memorable trip to one of my heart countries. For Tokyo my always love, love always.

Japan Diary #6

It was another busy work day here so not much to report on that front but after work we did have a very nice party at a high end izakaya in Ginza. We sat at really beautiful Japanese tables and the tables were groaning with food and drink. There was sashimi, tempura, yakitori, tofu and all kinds if small treats. I stuck to Coke but for the colleagues who enjoy sake there was a chance to enjoy it from a large bowl passed from person to person. It was a really great atmosphere and I met many Japanese colleagues I have over the years. One more full day in Tokyo before the flight back so I might try to see one last thing tomorrow evening after work. I know that I will miss Japan again like an old friend that you see far too little of.



Rhythmic Gymnastics – The Ahoy Again

On Sunday my nerves were frayed in the evening here in Japan as I awaited news from Holland about Luna’s second qualification competition for the nationals. We were hoping that she could put in a good performance again after doing so well in the first event. I was stunned and delighted to hear that she had come third. The top 4 positions went to her club so the team has four strong girls in the final. Luna’s ribbon looked really awesome on the clip Aga sent me and her Free was also tip-top. She did make a mistake on hoop at the end when she missed launching the hoop with her foot and it rolled out but luckily she got back from inside the line and finished with the material so the penalty was minimized. Overall it was a fine performance.

Although she finished in the Top 7 in all events she only qualifies for one apparatus final, with ribbon. They have a rule that only 2 per club can be in each final. It is not nice for girls who miss out but at least Luna did not miss out on all four apparatus finals which was what we expected to happen.


Japan Diary #5

Today was a really busy work day but I still got up to some things. I didn’t fancy another big dinner with the crowd so I made my way to Shibuya. It is great! A mass of humanity at the famous Shibuya crossing and tonnes of shops with cool fashion items. I looked for threads for my girls. I looked and looked until I found what I hope will be the right items. Girls are so lucky to have so much fashion! I love buying clothes for my little ladies! Tomorrow we have a big party after work with lots of Japanese dishes. Looking forward to that. On the language front I am doing way better this time and I am enjoyng using my pigeon Japanese. The more they hear my awful Japanese the more they remember their school English. Win-win!

Japan Diary #4

Today was my first day at work so I haven’t much to report. We had lunch at a tonkatsu restaurant. The main meat is deep fried breaded pork but served with lots of cabbage salad and rice. After work in the afternoon I took a trip down to Ginza to check out the G.U. and Uniqlo clothing stores but they were missing the bling my girls like. I will try to get to Shibuya tomorrow and maybe I will find more there. I met my colleagues for dinner at the Chinese in the hotel. It was fine but nothing really special. It is a lot nicer finding small Japanese restaurants to try out. In the next days work will get busier and busier. That’s what got me here after all so I will do my bit. I was thinking today how lucky we are to work for a Japanese company. It’s not something you remember all of the time but when you realize that I dreamt of Japan as a kid in the 80s and had a Japanese flag pendant and then I do end up getting to come here many times. It is a privilege indeed.