HAVE YOU EVER HAD A DREAM WHICH CAME TRUE? Not the ambition type of dream, but the nocturnal one -- you go to sleep and dream of something and then wake up and remember it, and then one day real life replicates what you first experienced in the dream. This happened to me today. Last night another dream came true, but this was of the ambition type of dream -- I realised I could have parallel, meaningful, evolving, multiple relationships in my life. I will deal with the nocturnal premonition first.
I have always paid close attention to my dreams, even though most of them are rubbish. Recently (like in the last couple of weeks) I had a dream in which I was returning from a skiing/snowboarding mountains of Japan, through the brown and grey Kanto plains, towards Tokyo. Today I found myself on a television assignment in this particular part of the world, which is called Saitama prefecture. I was sitting in the back of the minibus, on the way back to Tokyo, when I suddenly realised that the view out the window was exactly the same view I had seen in the dream. In fact, I was able to take a photo of it, because my camera was nearby. So, the scene I saw in my dream, came true before my eyes, and now I have a photo of it:
Of course, in the dream I was returning from a skiing/snowboarding trip, while in reality, I was returning from a TV shoot. So, some sceptics would argue that my dream was not accurate. However, minutes before we set off back, and I realised I was riding into de-ja-vu, I got a phone call from my friend Chris Mae inviting me to go snowboarding with him that night. So, in a way, the snowboarding link was there. More astoundingly, as I was overcome by de-ja-vu, I murmured to another guy in the back of the mini-bus, and American guy called Jonathon: "This is amazing -- I've seen this landscape before. It was in a dream, we were snowboarding." And then Jonathon said: "Interesting you should say that, my friend Chris just asked me to go snowboarding with him tonight, but I am too busy to go." "Chris who?" I asked. "Chris Mae," he said.
So, it turns out we both know the same guy, who had minutes previously invited both of us on the same snowboarding trip. Strange coincidence -- or was it more than that? Or perhaps it was one of those "cluster of coincidences" I have heard talk about.
Later I found that this Jonathon guy that I talked to on the bus was in fact something of a famous actor -- not quite famous, but he has made regular appearances on US TV. It turns out he had a role on one of the STAR TREK spin-offs, like Babylon Five of something. Now I think about it, I thought he did kind of look familiar when I met him. The people you meet.
Last night another dream came true when I realised I could multiple girlfriends in Japan. It was my Christmas present from the Universe. On that December 25 evening in Japan, feeling all bitter and blue from my relationship traumas with A. -- let's face, we split up -- I went out with former girl M, and some of her friends. Things went well -- here are some pictures:
| december 23
THE WINTER OF FREE HOLIDAYS CONTINUES. After my all-expenses-paid trip to Tottori (near Hiroshima) last week, it seems that this weekend I will be taken into the countryside outside of Japan to film a NTV (Nihon Terebi) program. Just like the Tottori trip, it will give me a chance to see a new side of Japan, and to take photos for this website. At the same time I will be paid -- although no doubt I will have to work hard. But it should be a good experience.
One of my old plans in coming to Japan was to establish a kind of "Australian colony", given that many of my Australian friends have some kind of connection (関係) with Japan. Already, one of my Australian friends has moved to Japan, and will probably remain for the rest of his life. Tonight I met up with another Australian friend who has a Japanese heritage, but lives in Sydney, but makes regular trips to Nihon -- Gotaro Uematsu. We ate food, drank and played pool. Here are some photos:
| december 21
EVER SINCE I CAME TO JAPAN THREE YEARS AGO I have periodically had the feeling that I am now living the perfect life. One example happened last week. I had been selected to star in a Japanese TV program which was being filmed in Tottori (near Hiroshima), and as part of the deal they were going to fly me over there and stay in a hotel overnight and pay me a reasonable amount of money (like 20,000 yen for one day). It was perfect for me because I haven't seen so much of Japan even though I have been here for three years, and even if I had to work hard, I had the chance to take some photos of a part of the world I have never seen before.
But more than that, was the feeling of modernity as I caught the train to Tokyo's Haneda Airport, passing some of the most futuristic looking bullet-trains I have ever seen, as well as the futuristic Tokyo skyline. It is truly a wondrous city. Then, upon my arrival at Haneda, I caught the one-hour flight to Tottori, all the time feeling like I had truly arrived -- that I was some kind of star! Even though of course I am not! It was my first ever business trip, and hopefully not the last.
Some of the photos I took in Tottori, which is famous fpr its sanddunes:
| december 14
THE DAY DAWNED BEAUTIFULLY BRIGHT AND SUNNY, as if trying to dispel my growing fears and inner gloom. I hadn't heard from A. in more than two days, and the last time I had seen her she had refused to kiss me, offering me just a handshake. For two days I had been pondering: "What was that about? why didn't she want to kiss me?" More ominously, I had become aware of a change in the cycles of my life which suggested that indeed we were moving apart, and the relationship was being pushed underground. This might sound strange to some people, but I think of life has having a kind of pattern to it, and that you can sometimes get a glimpse of the future, just by seeing a change in those patterns.
For example, for the past three months I have usually been able to see A. twice every week, although recently this has dropped to only once per week. However, next week I will be going away to Okayama (western Japan) for a film shoot, and then when I come back next week I have to work at a Christmas party. In other words, there seems little chance of me seeing A. next week. The week after that, A. will be going to Niijima (an island south of Tokyo) for an art project. So, it's entirely likely that I won't be able to see her in that week as well, even if she wanted to. More alarmingly, all of the big coming holiday events have been swallowed up by invitations to see other people -- on Christmas Day some of my students want to cook me nabe (Japanese winter stew), and on New Years Eve my Soka Gakkai friends want me to go to a party with them. I had imagined spending these important days with A., but it seems that Fate is intervening, and keeping us apart.
The question is: does it mean I should move on, find a new girlfriend -- or is it paradoxically a chance to strengthen the relationship? After all, sometimes you don't realise how much you love someone until they disappear. In answer to the above question, I think that both options are possible. I could move on to a new girlfriend (temporarily) while in A.'s absence, my love for her grows and intensifies -- and then one day we see each other again, and the relationship starts anew, only more passionately than before. That is my prediction!
So anyway, I started the day in a somewhat grim and lonely mood, despite the gorgeous sunshine streaming through my bedroom windows. Although it was a Sunday it was another work day for me -- I had a two-hour English lesson with my Korean student, Kim, to earn another 2000 yen for my cause. Not that it was real work -- just free conversation about politics and relevant issues, and towards the end, A. crept into the conversation. It's strange that talking about a problem with someone else seems to dampen the pain and put you into a more positive mood -- I have heard it said that in particular writing about a painful episode is very therapeutic. When the lesson was all over I got dragged into a social gathering which I was initially dreading, but which surprised me with its coolness and good vibes, even if every single person in the room was a freak (and that's including me.)
MY INVOLVEMENT WITH THE SOKA GAKKAI spiritual group is one of the stranger tangents of my life, and at times resembles a Monty Python comedy. Despite the fact that I do not believe in it and regard their practices as boring and mindless, I am officially a member and praised by some as a future leader of the organisation! I have read plenty of scary stuff about the upper echelons of power in the group, which claims 10 million members in Japan. In fact, I get the impression Soka Gakkai is fascist in nature, with its blind obedience to the group and militaristic music and rituals and so on. On the other hand, in a paradoxic way, the Soka Gakkai members I have met seem almost casual and non-religious in their approach. This evening's social event, although ostensibly a religious study meeting, was almost devoid of religious content. Instead, we drank beer and Jinro Korean wine, ate sushi and nabe (a Japanese stew), and told dirty jokes -- the walls of the room were covered with posters of topless women. Apart from a few minutes' prayer at the beginning and end of the party, the topic of religion wasn't mentioned at all.
Which is just as well, because organised religion bores me to tears!
WHAT A GREAT COUNTRY THIS IS (sometimes)! I joined a talent agency in Tokyo earlier this year in the hope of getting some action on the acting front, and have since then made several minor appearances on Japanese TV. Last week, however, I hit the jackpot when I was offered an on-location assignment in Okayama, western Japan (between Osaka and Hiroshima). Not only I will be the star of the show (some kind of TV drama), but I will get a free flight from Tokyo to Okayama, a few night's accommodation in a hotel, and 20,000 yen ($200) per day. And this despite the fact that I must be one of the worst actors I know!
The great thing about this sudden offer is that I was scheduled to fly back to Australia this weekend, but I had to cancel my holiday due to a lack of funds. Now, out of the blue, I have been rewarded with a free holiday from the gods, and I will be able to see a new part of Japan. I am looking forward to taking plenty of photos there, of different aspects of Japanese life -- getting drunk in bars and that sort of thing, Okayama by night. I am sure I will have plenty of adventures.
| november 29
I HAVE BEEN USING my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a few years now, and I was
stoned when I selected it. Ever since then, I have been somewhat
ashamed of it -- "what kind of stupid email address is that?" It is
funny that you can look at something so many times for so long, and
then suddenly you notice a new fact about it. This evening I was
looking at my email address, and suddenly I realised what it meant:
a lure = catch.
As in, lure something, then catch it. And fishermen use a lure to
catch their fish. Or use just plain allure to catch your prey!
| november 24
I WENT TO GINZA LAST NIGHT to pay some rent money and by chance, or some deeper Divine Design, discovered Akiko was nearby -- virtually on the same street, celebrating with her arty friends at an izakaya called Watami. I promptly met up with her where there was much merriment and cheer in progress; I took these photos of the food to create a mini "Day in the Life" series: NOVEMBER DINING:
My dining experience at Watami was only the beginning of a beautiful weekend dominated by grey skies and winter warmth under the futon.
However, much to Akiko's chagrin, the tables at Watami were stacked high with plates of meat like chicken and fish with their heads still attached, and little itsy bits of ham and skewered bird meat and stuff. To make matters worse, everybody was trying to ply me with glasses of beer, wine and Japanese rice wine. I generally try to eat vegetarian when I am with Akiko because she is a vegetarian and I want to get into her good books. I also generally abstain from liquor when I am with her because she thinks I am an alcoholic (it's only partially true!) Nothing irritates her more than to see me drinking a beer and eating a big piece of meat. All well and good and healthy, I agree, and I want to cut down. Unfortunately, Japan is no place to be if you're a vegetarian and/or a teetotalor. Everywhere you go there is meat and booze. There's no escaping it!
I figure, in my go-with-the-flow approach to the Universe -- if you can't fight them, join them! This is of course an impossible course fo action for vegetarians, because it would involve making a compromise. And compromises are one thing that vegetarians just don't do.
| november 13
THE STRANGE SEA NOVEL CYCLE CONTINUES. As I pointed out early on this weblog, I seem to be suffering a strange literary affliction at the moment which goes like this: whenever someone gives me a book as a Christmas or birthday present, or whenever I find a cool looking book at a friend's house and decide to borrow it, or whatever -- whenever I start reading the said book I find it is about sailing, getting shipwrecked, and being forced to survive on a desert island. I tell no lie -- it is kind of freaky. Is it a sign of my own impending shipwrecked doom, or a metaphor about my life. Whatever -- there are cycles at work in the Universe, and they stretch far beyond the confines of "chance", "dumb luck"...
Anyway, this morning I picked up a book in my room which I had borrowed from my boss at the end of 2002, and decided it would be good to read it. The book in question is Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels", the classic children's story/political satire from the 17th Century. Within one page of starting this book the hairs on the back of my neck started to go up. The writer describes his voyage to the South Seas: "On the fifth of November, which was the beginning of summer in those parts, the weather being very hazy, the seaman spied a rock, within half a cable's length from the ship; but the wind was so strong, that we were driven directly upon it, and immediately split." I thought to myself: Here we go again?" Another book about ocean currents and shipwrecks. What the hell is going on here?
| november 12
I SEEM TO BE SUFFERING THIS STRANGE CYCLICAL syndrome at the moment in which whenever one of Tokyo's regular earthquakes strike, I am not only in the same place -- I am with the same person! The last time there was a big earthquake in Tokyo, about a month ago, I was teaching my student Yoshiji Baba at the Becks Cafe in Tokyo Station. I was there today giving him another lesson when I felt a bit of a throb and a wobblin' in the floor beneath my chair, and realised that another quake was in the makes. You never get used to it, and I spend a lot of time worrying about what would happen if the Big One finally hit. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information Center
World Data Center for Seismology, Denver, the temblor was 6.4 on the Richter scale. And even though I worry so much about earthquakes, it is cool to think that I am regularly able to experience such awesome displays of natural power, and survive them. After all, isn't that one aspect of the Japanese experience -- to witness real kickass destructive earthquakes, not the feeble tremors you get in other parts of the world.
| october 29
THERE SEEMS TO BE THIS MYSTERIOUS SYNDROME WHICH AFFLICTS FOREIGNERS who have been in Japan for about three years and makes them start hating the place with a surprisingly strong passion. I could never understand this when I first came here, but as I approach my third-year-anniversary, I can see why so many foreigners turn anti-Japan. If you give in to hate, there is a lot to hate about the place. But as it is my aim to know the entire world, I can't afford myself the luxury of writing off such a huge chunk of the world, and surrendering to hate. Besides, there are many cool things about living in Japan -- the cellphones are pretty good, for example.
But there is more to the world than Japan -- for example, there's Korea! It is only one hour's flight from here, and I've already been there twice! Other traveller's write it off as useless, but I think it is cool in its rustic kind of way. Today I taught my Korean student Kim, which wasn't so much a job than an enjoyable conversation... and he taught me my first real Korean words: annyong hasiyo (HELLO) and chaluka seiyo (GOODBYE). Not much I know, but you have to start somewhere.