Some day I need to return to Tokyo and walk its streets listening for the soundtrack that Haruki Murakami requires of the city, bebop jazz in Shinjuku, classical when wandering Asakusa and Senso-ji, and rock on the streets of Shibuya.
I have often been there, but my soundtrack was that of horns and the clatter of a pachinko parlor, or the pitched giggles of young girls walking hand in hand down Omotesando, dreaming of what they could buy in the shops of Aoyama.
In Asakusa amid the stalls of trinkets and swords why do the gaijin all speak German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish and English is reserved to a couple if Nisei.
In a small laundromat in Akasaka an old woman clucks and shuffles on wooden sandals pulling kimonos from the dryer. My t-shirts are still damp.
In Shibuya there is a small storefront pet shop, its windows full of cat ryokan some with beds others replete with toys, balls. In the largest a tiger striped Persian sleeps, her back to the passing crowds.
At Meiji Jingu I toss my coin and bow in prayer hopeful that the gods speak English.
On the Ginza line a young woman all in black carries a carefully wrapped poster of John Lennon. In thirty years she will look like Yoko Ono.
First published in Around the World: Landscapes & Cityscapes, Sweetycat Press, 2021
1. An older, silver-haired woman in neon green pants, a brown blouse and black shop apron stoops and carefully scrubs the alleyway outside her small shop.
2. Salarymen fill the tunnels of Kokkai-gijidomae station at 6 P.M., 7, 8, and in fewer numbers, 9, shuffling down the long corridors to the Chiyoda or Marunouchi Line trains, where they will sit stiffly, faces in books or papers, or they will hang from the straps another day complete, ticked off the schedule. They will dream of trading polyester suits for wool, and a desk not pressed against half-height cubicle walls.
3. Akasaka-mitsuke Station: the electronic sign marks the next train for Shibuya at 17:52. It is 17:54 and the face of the stationmaster is a mix of anger and frustration for such tardiness cannot be accepted.