Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Day 198: Saturday, September 24, 2011

Last night I couldn’t make it to my friend’s exhibition opening because I was too exhausted from carrying the omikoshi, so I decided to go visit him this afternoon. While I was walking to the gallery, I noticed an open store front where a high school girl was painting at an easel as well as some other kids drawing and mixing paints. I pieced together that it was an after school art program since they were surrounded with statues of ancient Greek men, cheesy posters of fruit, and other generic things that epitomize art, and even though the stuff they were being taught made me wince in pain, at the same time, it was still really refreshing to see how innocent they were like blank pieces of paper and that they were only just starting out…

I’ve been lazy about going out to shoot these days, so the only photos I’ve been taking are my housemates, friends, and neighbors, which surprisingly doesn’t bother me like it would have before.
Actually if I stop and think about it, maybe what I have been doing is more suitable now because since yesterday, I’ve come to know almost everyone in the neighborhood, and I probably can get a more intimate perspective on things, which I had previously glossed over before. I've realized recently that the biggest enemy to your art is yourself, so there is no point worrying about your ups and downs because it will just make you sick.

I got back to my station in the early evening. Since today is the last day of the Hatagaya festival, I knew I was missing more than half of the adult omikoshi ceremony... actually I was hoping to skip out on the whole thing because I was still tired and sore from the night before, but when I got home, there my neighbors were with the omikoshi in front of my house taking a break, so there was no escape. I said hello to everyone and they asked me why wasn't I helping. I made some excuse and then ran inside to hide, but as soon as I heard them begin chanting again from far away, I felt guilty. If I wasn't going to participate, I could at least document them, so I ran out with my camera to join them.

The old man who lives across from my house- who has always hated my roommates and I since the first day we had moved to this neighborhood- saw me walking behind them and said to me, “You worked really hard yesterday, but not today,” which worked in making me feel guilty. He then introduced me to the cute girl next to him, who was around my age. To my surprise, it was his daughter. We were both shy so we just said hello and kept walking.

Soon I got sucked in by the energy and decided to join in. Hayato’s mom lent me her happi (a traditional festival garment) and immediately after I began yelling at the top of my lungs, I felt alive again and felt connected to something bigger.
When we had stopped to take a break, Kouji, Hayato’s dad, introduced me to his friends. One guy was actually my neighbor from across the street on the other side of my house (the husband of the woman with a cold from my earlier diary post) and he too lived in that house all his life. He as well as Kouji's other friends have known each other since they could crawl.

Afterwards Hayato’s parents invited me over to their house for dinner. When I was going home to take a shower, I ran into my scary old neighbor’s young daughter again and stopped to talk for a bit. It turned out that she lived in Yoyogi Uehara, which is the neighborhood next to ours (about 3 minutes by bike). She invited me to join their party, but I told her that I was already going to another. Before we said goodbye, she asked me to please watch over her father for her, which caught me by surprise since it seemed like he was tough and could take care of himself.

Later at Hayato’s house, watching the families together was moving. It reminded me of my childhood where I used to play with my friends while our parents hung out eating dinner. During the meal, someone mentioned how similar Hayato and his mom looked, and everyone nodded in agreement. Except for his eyes, Hayato looked like his mother. Someone joked and said that he was probably someone else’s kid, but Kouji defended his honor by saying that Hayato actually looked just like him the first week he was born. He told us the story of when he first went to visit Hayato at the hospital nursery, as soon as he came out of the elevator all the nurses pointed to him and said, “That must be the dad.” Present day Kouji laughed and before taking another sip of beer said, “But only for that week…”

I quickly grew tired of listening to so much Japanese, so I asked Hayato to show me around the house. We went upstairs and he took me to a room where there were all these photos of him as a kid on display. I noticed one where Hayato was wearing a suit. His grandma was in the room with us and she explained to me that it was taken on his first day at school. Next to that was a similar photo of another boy about the same age, and I asked her who he was. She smiled and said that was Kouji on his first day at school as well. She then pointed to the cherry blossoms behind him in the photo and said that was taken at the park around the corner, which was where we gathered earlier that day to do the omikoshi. I was stunned because up until these past couple of days, I had always felt like there was no real community in Tokyo, but I had never been more wrong.

Around 10:00 p.m., it was time for everyone to go home. Hayato and I stood in front of my house and waved goodbye to everyone. After they had all gone, I told Hayato and his parents to pose so I could take their photo. I guess we were loud because the old man who lives across from me stuck his head out the window and yelled at us. Like a kid to an elder, Hayato’s father apologized, and then we laughed and dispersed. While I was putting the key in the front door, I could hear the old man’s cute daughter closing the window that he had just yelled at us from saying, “Did you know the guy with the camera is actually from America…?”

Afterwards I met the girl that I actually like at a nearby bar. It had been a long time since I had last seen her and hearing her talk about what she had been doing on her free time since then, I could tell she was going on with her life now, so in my heart I knew what little chances I had with her were over except for friendship and business. After we finished our drinks and we made it to our intersection, I told her that I couldn’t walk her back home tonight because I had to pee, so we said goodbye and split ways.


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