watashi wa tsuristo des
November 1, 2008

last week I was travelling a bit around Japan. When I planned to go there I thought that it was wise to make the most out of the trip, so I planned a long stay which should include visiting not only Tokyo but other cities. I bought myself a one week Japan Rail Pass (a flat rate train pass) and after the performance of the Dance Club, I set off for Hiroshima. I spent 2 days there (I posted something in the blog about it), and then left for Kyoto, were I spent 4 nights and used it as a base to visit Nara for the day. finally, I spent last Sunday in Osaka, righ before going back to Tokyo. all in all it was good, many beautiful sights to see, and some more nice people to meet. but I think it basically proved once more that I’m not cut for tourism. to be honest, I get kind of bored. I think I said this already, but I am not really interested in visiting a place. what really turns me on is somehow transposing my life (whatever that is) to a new context – that’s why Tokyo worked so well for me, I think. because I was still busy with my own artistic work, with meeting people, with cooking, teaching, going out, and with a lot of writing. my one week trip around Japan involved a lot of drinking, and some dancing (which was great), and hips and hips of walking, and it was surely a beautiful experience. but…

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Hypocenter – affect
October 21, 2008

I am fine, now. I went through the experience, felt extremely sad, shed some tears, fell silent for a couple of hours, and felt strangely well afterwards.

I caught a very early fast train in Tokyo, and travelled some 800 km in less than 5 hours. I slept most of the trip, and I got here feeling awkward. after such a great experience there, it wasn’t easy to leave Tokyo and to be once more completely alone. but I did, and got to Hiroshima, full of expectations and desires for some kind of intense spiritual experience. I was quite convinced (or hopeful) that the atmosphere in this city would be very special, introspective and profound… I wanted to get out of the train and breath the maturity that humanity must be gained for such an extreme historical event.

once more, expectations proved to be a curse, a strange trap, difficult to escape, deforming and limiting all subsequent experiences. so I got down of the train, and had an alienating little walk to the hostel in between game centers, shopping malls, pachinkos and plenty of just very normal busy people on the streets. Hiroshima ended up being somehow lively but in a strange undefined way, and I was surprised by some very posh areas and some big buidlings, though the city seems sort of small.

so I walked through the city, getting more alienated by very attractive shops – I felt pulled by the game centers, and guitar shops, and tea and coffee and tobacco stores, and by the collectibles shop, and handicrafts’, and many others. I felt that the whole A-bomb history was a fake, I couldn’t breath it, I couldn’t feel it’s reverberations. I wanted to be surrounded by some sort of Historical radiation in every street. I wanted Hiroshima to be the symbol for peace, until the moment I arrived to the Memorial Park Souvenir shop, where Hiroshima is that symbol, sold in t-shirts, mugs, flags, stickers, and more. I wanted the tourists to be more silent.

and then I got to the Museum, and the story changed quite a bit. I don’t know how good the Museum really is, but it felt like a theatrical experience and I was seriously moved by it. at some point I was reminded of the dance piece  ‘Revolver’, by Neuer Tanz/W. A. Wolff (which I saw in Rotterdam a couple of years ago). when I entered the museum, the first thing to see was a 4 minutes video clip accompanied by this ominous yet hopeful music, extremely dramatic, conventional and cheesy. and when I say ominous, I don’t mean only its atmosphere but also that it announced some serious cheesyness. but, what surprised me (and reminded me of Neuer Tanz), is that repetition and insistence transformed it. during my 90 minutes walk through the museum, I heard that 4 minutes piece of music over and over and over and over and over and over again. it penetrated my bones. and though it wasn’t the music that made me cry, it certainly started fitting after a while.

I also started noticing how the A-bomb images and the anti-bellic discourse seem to have permeated very deeply into Japanese literature (films, dances, books). yesterday, walking throuhg the A-bomb museum reminded me a lot of Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga and animé ‘Akira’, of some of Kurosawa’s ‘Dream’s, of some of the Butoh imagery… sorry if I’m being a bit of a superficial cultural analyst here, these are just some impressions. maybe it was the other way around, maybe the imagery of the museum was inspired by all that literature. or probably a less simple combination of things.

like I said before, by the end of my long visit to the Museum I had been transformed. when I went back into the city I felt very well, kind of healed…

yabusame
October 14, 2008

today I watched a Yabusame exhibition, or something like that. it’s an annual celebration they perform on this holiday (because today was a national holiday: the Health and Sports Day – really). and Yabusame is: horseback archery. or horseback riding archery… don’t know how to say. people riding horses and shooting arrows. very cool…

and though I was a bit disappointed with the fact that the rating of hitting the target was very low (the game is: each rider rides his horse alongside three wooden targets he has to shoot at, within the same run), it was still exciting to see. the parade, the people’s reaction (though a bit timid), reminded me of the folklore festivals I used to go to in Argentina, and of my uncle’s parading as a Gaucho, and all that stuff. it also reminded me of how much I used to love* these images of warriors, and medievalic chivalrous fantastic knightly adventurous stories… it also made me want to ride a horse again, something I didn’t do in the last 10 years or so…

today, I was thinking a lot about my brother, and wishing we would have been there together.

* writing ‘I used to love’ is just a way to pretend that I don’t anymore…

one monument
October 9, 2008

from the plaque of the monument to Omura Masujiro, in Yasukuni Shrine

from the plaque of the monument to Omura Masujiro, in Yasukuni Shrine

from daytrip to Hakone
October 9, 2008

   

    

los huevos negros de Hakone
October 8, 2008

Today I made a day trip to Hakone, a beautiful region with some volcanic activity and a lot of hot springs. I didn’t really get to see any lava or anything, but I did see some fumes and sulfur, and the very famous Kuro Tamago, or Black Eggs from Hakone. I’m not sure, but I think it’s somehow eggs that they cook in the water from the hot springs, so probably affected by the minerals in the water or something like that. in any case, I thought that selling smelly boiled eggs suited perfectly a place you get to by walking through clouds and clouds of sulfur vapours.

well, I had a walk in the mountain, and through the small towns, and took many many trains, and a cable car (a funicular?) and a rope car (or this is a funicular?) and after that, I spent a couple of hours in another Onsen (hot springs bath). it was a bit disappointing, I think the one I chose was not too good. but in any case it was (yet another) good physical experience. it’s a pitty that the hours I spent on shitty trains* afterwards, coming back to Tokyo, undid all the relaxation and softness that the Onsen gave me.
in any case, it was a nice little tour, but it reconfirmed me in my feeling that I’m not born to be a tourist. I enjoy much more living somewhere (or at least spending some serious time in the same place) and learning to relate to it – I feel it gives me some sort of deeper experience of something… you know what I mean? and it’s also less expensive, and less tiring. most of the time.

today’s nicest aspect, I think, were the different rides in mountainscapes, because they reminded me very much of the place where I was born. which is a city a bit bigger than Amsterdam, but half an hour away from amazingly beautiful mountains full of vegetation and small rivers… Raco! I miss you! Tucumán! Bs As! I want to go home soon! and I also want to go to Amsterdam soon (actually, a few months ago I surprised myself calling Amsterdam home for the first time -_-º). and, of course, I also want to stay here for a longer time. maybe what I need is a couple of Replicants – why not? it would totally suit the Japanophilia that triggered this trip…

*for the non-initiated: like in many other countries, tickets for shitty trains cost less than tickets for nice comfortable trains

Yokohama – where Boca played last year the final of the Toyota Cup against Milan
October 6, 2008

yesterday we visited Yokohama, and saw a theater performance of an Argentinian director and crew, performed by japanese actors. the proposition was interesting, but I got kind of dissapointed by the realisation. the whole piece, a series of simultaneous scenes that started again and got repeated several times along a small shopping street in Yokohama, felt very static and distant for me. each scene had subtitles projected on top, showing either an ‘off-voice’ narrator or the thoughts of the performers. the stories, which I could read on the hand program, sounded too twisted for such short texts. And then, the acting was awful. and I’m not criticizing the actors… I think they were not really directed, or that there was no special performativity demanded from them. it was very difficult to engage with the acting, which I think made the performance feel superficial: a lay out with some potential but that soon became very conventional. so, very minimal stories and no action, but very crooked stories, acted in a very conventional and silly way. that summarizes somehow my impression of the piece.

and then: I have to say in their defense that it was very strongly based on written text (constant subtitles and no speaking), and the subtitling was all in Japanese, so I probably missed the best of it. Matsuo said he actually found the text/translation very good.

another thing that was very interesting was the mix of audience and not audience people who were having dinner in the restaurants, or walking down the street. there were many layers of observation-exposition-voyeurism, and all those kind of issues. for example, it felt very exciting when people from inside the restaurant started taking pictures (through the window) of the people observing the performance happening on the sidewalk, that maybe the diners couldn’t see… but I also felt that the whole voyeurism and the simultaneity aspect of the different scenes were not developed, so the scenes felt too arbitrary – I missed some intertwining (after it came to my mind, how could I refuse using such a word?).

from stimulating your own body to being stimulated by it (hmm… that sounds a bit kinky)
October 6, 2008

yesterday we also visited (me, for the first time) an Onsen, which is a bath/sauna with natural hot springs. apparently the hot springs are very common here, though in Tokyo they have to drill to find them (the locations are not natural). besides the fact that it was very relaxing and nice, it was (yet another) a learning bodily experience. and it reminded me of visiting the flotation tanks in the research process of Nora Heilmann’s piece ‘Fieldings’.

I also think that the iodine (a lot of it) and other minerals in the water were affecting my nervous system. all the moments of going from the hot water into the cold water were very… full of sensations, to say something. feeling very light, feeling vibrations all throughout, feeling my heart adjusting and working. it also made me think about how my relation to my own body has changed in these last 3 years, and it made me feel a lot more sensitive and open to sensing things that (probably) constantly take place in my body.

a specially memorable moment happened a couple of minutes after going into the cold water for the first time, and some serious stress or something got released inside, because I started laughing and couldn’t stop for about 3’ or 4’…

good old sci fi
October 4, 2008

on a somehow lighter note, today I visited Odaiba. it was a good day, today. I had a meeting in the Argentinian Embassy, and they agreed to promote this project in their website. a small contribution that hopefully will facilitate some new/extra audience joining for the performance… or who knows what else.

but what I wanted to talk about is my trip to Odaiba, which is just another area of Tokyo, not even that far  but where I hadn’t been before. Odaiba is something like a luxury entertainment area, plus a big office center, I think. it’s full of expensive and crappy shopping centers, and huge office buildings. it seems to have a different scale, and communicates a strange feeling of emptyness… it felt sort of decadent, and quite dead in spite of all its activity. and it was great. I enjoyed all the sensations. I think Odaiba is an excitingly bizarre urban space. on top of that, it has a small (and also strange) beach, and some interesting architecture. what I loved the most was the emptyness and the elevated corridors for pedestrians. they are a common sight of Tokyo (that I’m crazy about), but in Odaiba the separation between the car streets ‘down there’ and the elevated sidewalks and walking bridges felt much more extreme. today I had the strongest sensation of being in an old science fiction film, a sensation I love. I had to think of ‘Solyaris’, by Andrei Tarkovski, and it’s very long (one shot?) scene in the highway, which I think was shot in Tokyo back in the ’70s. I also managed to sleep under a tree next to an empty peer for about 20′, a beautiful thing I was missing… I mean sleeping : )

perspectives
October 4, 2008

another Tokyo city scape

first time in my life I see a cemetery right from above