Wednesday, May 23

Poetry because I have a keyboard

I would be wise not to become
Invested in expectation
It’s always weighted in trepidation
And as often as there’s elation
There’s disappointment


Where as one leaves a soul enlightened
The other is burdensome and governed
By a record of past excitement
Which soon became present dismay

Fuk U Ok A- I still Love You

Well, I get to Fukuoka after getting the night bus, I’m not well rested but I’m rested enough and I’m ready to shop.

I had wanted to see Evania whilst in Fukuoka but she had gone to Tokyo for the weekend to live it up in a no doubt stimulant fuelled 48 hours of fun and debauchery., good luck to her, wish I could trade places.

However, I had a mission. My Bape trainers have long been the trainer of choice when ducking my head into my shoe cupboard on the way out of my house, as a result they’ve become somewhat mangy, a look that I appreciate on trainers but if I’m wearing this pair to death then I will need another pair to look, um, “smart “ in.

there will be no sky gazing for me this morning. Plan B… breakfast.

However (again), I’ve arrived far too early to go shopping as the shops aren’t until 9am, it was currently 6.30am. I decide to leave my clothes etc in a locker, jump on a bus to a place I don’t know and walk around, see if I can find a park, put in the ipod (with broken iBuds) and chill out, making the clouds move with my mind, it was a wonderful day after all.

I get on the bus and I take it as far as 1000 yen will allow, I hop off and look for the park… there’s no park to be found. In fact this area is so devoid of social spaces I wonder if I’m still in Japan and imagine that the bus has dropped me in Birmingham or something, the area is distinctly and unerringly urban, there will be no sky gazing for me this morning. Plan B… breakfast.

Tenjin: full of short skirts, high heels, hair with too much hairspray and lads wearing eyeliner.

Plan B is hampered by the fact that every restaurant I pass on my now one hour plus hike through the projects is closed. I don’t let this dishearten me though; I see some very nice sites, a Harley Davidson shop being the most notable of these spottings.

Eventually I become bored of exploring this area and decide to head back to Tenjin, the downtown party area of Fukuoka and also home of the Apple store, first stop for me, I need to replace these headphones.

An hour later and I’m on a bus, it’s heading to Hakata and from there I will catch the subway to Tenjin, I’m on the home straight and nothing can stop me, I’m going to shop like a madman and then drop like a sack of spuds.

Tenjin: full of short skirts, high heels, hair with too much hairspray and lads wearing eyeliner. Straight to the Apple store. One wireless keyboard, one wireless mouse and one pair of headphones. Next, Bape!
Camera’s rolling and gums flapping ... my heart fills with dread

There was a queue outside Bape, its because there’s a new line of women’s and men’s wear, I’m not interested. I tell the staff that I just want shoes and they let me go past the queue. I’m there for 5 minutes and I’ve made up my mind that there are only two possible choices, the pink and black pair or the beige, orange and white pair, five minutes later and the choice has grown to three pairs of trainers and one pair of sandals. I had to jump in and cull the choices, reducing an increasing number of shoes to an affordable number before I sell my return tickets to Miyazaki. I opted for the sandals; camouflage Birkenstocks with the Bape monkey hidden in the design and the trainers with an air bubble in muted orange and tan, lovely, retro, bit ironic.

Time to hunt for the park again.

No such luck. The nearest estimation of a park I find is a concrete amphitheatre with a shallow rectangular puddle in the middle. But people are chilling out there, so I can’t accuse it of not being a public space.

I sit on a wall and watch kids practicing their keep-up skills with a football, they were very good, incorporating hand-stands and jumps into their tricks, all very showy. Whilst sat, a couple came into the park followed by a camera crew. I watched as the man gestured toward me and whatever he was saying was interrupted by the presenter who was dressed in a gaudy looking tweed jacket with clashing salmon tie. Camera’s rolling and gums flapping, I wonder what they’re up to and then my heart fills with dread as the couple make a direct line toward me.

“Please, take our picture.”

The man says to me in rehearsed English.

“Of course.”

I reply, deciding that ‘OK’ was to unsophisticated an answer for such an amazing polyglot. He handed me a Polaroid camera and I fixed them in the view finder being sure to observe the rule of thirds and put the girls eye level at roughly 2/3 up the frame… snap, and they’re away to talk to the presenter again, hopefully admonishing him for wearing such a god-awful tie in a public place.

The weather was beautiful that day, perfect light, perfect blue sky, light fluffy white clouds and a breeze which gave relief to any unpleasantness from a naked yellow sun which stood proud and unabashedly flashed me. I needed sun glasses.

she was impulsive and free, she laughed heartily at her own jokes ... before collecting herself to fix you with a serious look and talk at speed about things you didn’t understand

Sunglasses are a necessity for any people-watcher on a sunny day, I do hate to stare, but I do love to watch and with the backcombing, keeppy uppy’s and the now three camera crews milling about, it was now very difficult not to stare let alone watch.

The most impressive sight was an hourglass shaped Mediterranean woman, with dark features and long hair. She was wearing a pair of jogging bottoms and a half-length t-shirt with cut-off sleeves. She sat by the rectangular pond and read. I imagined that she was reading a script and that she was in character for, I toyed with the idea of approaching her for a moment, and fantasised that she might talk to me in character. In my fantasy she was impulsive and free, she laughed heartily at her own jokes and swung her head back before collecting herself to fix you with a serious look and talk at speed about things you didn’t understand. She was extrovert and bold and open and intriguing. I imagined an afternoon falling in love with her and then she left, and as she said goodbye the fa├žade of her character was removed and I was left waving away a total stranger, someone other than the person I had spent the day with. I imagined I was desperately heartbroken and disappointed so, I no longer entertained the idea of approaching her.

AFter this unfulfilled fantasy I went to an Itallian restaurant which had Star Wars music playing in the background, but there was a twist, the music was played on the panpipes, I was impressed. Then I waited, I waited at the airport waiting for my parents to arrive for Golden Week, whilst I waited I listened to my iPod with my new headphones, cooed over my new keyboard and studied Japanese.

I love Fukuoka, my little playground whether its day or night, whether I'm alone or with friends I've never failed to have fun there.

Monday, May 21


Have you seen Blood Diamond with Leonard DiCaprio? Well its about a diamond smuggler in war torn Africa, this cheeky chappy has a very flippant attitude to the bloodshed, tragedy and corruption that goes on arround him: It can't be helped, it's the way it is, because TIA... this is Africa, my friend.

Things here in Japan make my blood boil, way past the second stage of culture shock, still things just don't add up. Fortunately if it doesn't make sense it can be answered with three simple letters: TIJ (This is Japan).

Let me show you.

Q:Why is it that people here will evangelise about how safe Japan is but all I ever hear about is dismembered ex-pats, escapee suspects and 17 year olds decapitating their mothers?

Q: It's my weekend, mine to spend however I choose. Yet I need to fill out a form to tell the school I work at that I will be staying at a friends for the weekend. It's like I'm checking in with my mother giving her my school mate's mother's number so they can call if they get worried... what the fuck?

Q: I go to the trouble of making someone a present, in this case let's say a CD of pictures from the year. I hand it to the recipient with all the requisite humility that such an act requires here and because it's not wrapped in cheap, tacky wrapping paper its looked upon as worthless and hardly a word of grattitude is uttered. So it's not the thought that counts?
A: Of course not... TIJ.

You see, every question pertaining to frustration which is felt by living in Japan's backwater can be simply answered thus: T I J.

Thursday, May 10

For Nanami

If we leave our hearts in the hands of fate
In fate we must have the strongest faith
That fate’s plans and ours don’t just relate
But our interests are fate’s greatest weight
Else we may as well throw our heart away
And sail along a heartless plain
Moving, but still, in a world with no pain
But a world with no joy without fate to blame

For Nanami who has been dealt a harsh blow from a throw of a dice.

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