Sitting in my short-term Tokyo apartment rental one morning, hungover or not, I can’t now recall, I flipped on the television and was immediately overwhelmed by a loud and kinetic mixture of sound and bright colors. It was some kind of Japanese early-morning children’s show, and like turning on an incandescent lamp it immediately doubled the illumination already coming from the open sliding glass door near my futon. I found the colors mesmerizing, compelling, beautiful. I felt my attention swiftly and involuntarily narrowing to only the television. I think the TV show had actually started to rewrite the neural pathways in my brain.
But before the bright, happy, lovely, gorgeous gained complete control of me, I managed to grab one of my digital cameras and shoot some pictures of what I was seeing. Then from some inexplicable reserve of inner determination, I summoned the will to turn the TV off.
Looking at these photographs now, some 10 months later, they look like they could be a video capture encryption key from the movie version of “Johnny Mnemonic”.
(Pictures taken in Nakano 5-chome in September, 2013)
I’m home alone on Friday night after a trying week, trying due to too much exposure to, and consideration of, both the presidential election and the effort I put into being a writer, a photographer, and a fledgling business owner versus the financial reward I have thus far enjoyed from any of these creative things. The fiscal reward so far hasn’t been much.
I could proceed as if this was going to be me bitching about these numerous and myriad things, but there are too many numerous and myriad things to bitch about. So I figure finding some level of contentment in the state of this living is more rational, logical, and, frankly, humane. It’s just easier on me to do so, and is probably good for my cholesterol or some goddamn thing.
So my wife is off now at a social engagement to which I was invited but in which I chose not to participate. The television is on, tuned to some Japanese game show which I don’t understand but am enjoying nonetheless. I’ve had a bit too much Dr Pepper, so my jelly-bean brain is off its moorings and bouncing around the inside of my skull just a little bit. Hell, I’ll probably have another. I don’t drink the adult stuff alone anymore. There was never any money in it. Besides, I’d rather be in Japan drinking with some of you.
And it’s all pretty damned un-bad. I’ll get back to Japan eventually, my wife lovingly understands when I’m feeling anti-social, and I figure the creativity and business will only grow in depth and value as long as I maintain an objectively-true confidence that I’m doing good works and that I love what I do now more than anything else I have ever done. Because I think both are true.
So there you have it, my solitary Friday night. As for the pretty girl in the picture, well, she’s kind of a reflection of me. Because I can honestly say, whether you know me personally and believe this or not, that in a small corner of my mind there is always a happy, cheerful person clapping and smiling after winning a silly game show in front of millions of people.
Yep, it’s been that way for decades. And it’s good shit, Maynard.
Hello, and welcome to Tokyo. My name is Television…
…and I’ll be your host.
It would be my honor to entertain you today. Would you like to start with the news…?
You don’t even need to go outside, because I can show you the weather too…
Tired of the weather? How about a movie?
Or if you like I can show you cartoons to make you happy…
And sometimes, when you’re happy, I can even show you…
(Photos taken in 5-28-1 Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo (about five minutes from the Life store) in April, 2012)
Footnote: Believe it or not, Japanese TV saved my sanity when I was very sick in Tokyo for nearly two weeks in April of this year. This is kind of an appreciation of that, and also an acknowledgement that you can start to feel like TV controls your life when you’re cooped up with it for too long. But I’m sure you got that. –DR
Aren’t things viewed in transparent globes supposed to be upside down? Or maybe the view through them has been right all along, and it is the world that’s inverted.
I don’t know.
The crystal balls our gypsy mothers gave us have been tuned to a wrong or dead channel for centuries. Our attempts to see the future are like the chains on Marley’s ghost, weighing us down with guilt and keeping us from living the future.
So I was watching a cop show through a globe of transparent plastic……
….and I wasn’t all that surprised when all I saw…..
….was a handsome actor playing a lawyer on TV.
My wife and I were in Tokyo three years ago, staying in Nakano near Nakano Broadway in a vacation rental apartment. We didn’t go out much at night, mostly because we were too damned exhausted from hoofing it all over Tokyo during the day. And when you combine all that activity with middle age and the ungodly amount of salt in Japanese food, we typically returned to our Nakano digs in very achy, swollen condition. Nights in Nakano were for relaxing and recuperation, usually after a quick meal at a nearby noodle house or izakaya, and maybe some poking around in the Broadway. There was (is) a Life store between Nakano Station and our apartment, so we stopped there almost every evening to gather snacks, soft drinks, and Japanese alcohol for the evening. And when we got home, my wife would read and have sake or plum wine, and I’d turn on the TV to channel surf while I enjoyed some unusual or exotic brands of Japanese beer.
And with my Japanese being as poor as it is and considering that there wasn’t much English-language programming on TV during our stay, I’d get bored. I would get bored, grab my Canon digital, and start taking happy snaps of things all over our apartment, including the odd shiny image that happened to be on TV at the moment. Then after a few hours, we’d go to bed. That’s all. Here you go. Click to enlarge:
Playing a Tony Tani CD on the DVD player.
A TBS morning program, I think.
I…have….no….idea. I was in my cups a bit, and the channel was scrambled. I call the first image “Greetings from Television”.
Some Nicholas Cage movie I flipped to briefly. It probably sucked.
A Japanese period drama on TBS, I think. There was blood.
A beautifully shot feature film from the ‘50s. I watched almost the whole movie. I forget what TV channel it was on, and I wish I knew the title of it and where to get it on DVD with subtitles. The film appeared to be about a platoon of Japanese soldiers trying to figure out what to do several days after the end of World War II in the Pacific. I saw some beautiful images and performances in this movie, so if you know this film please tell me where I might get hold of it.