A Summer of Traveling

Well. Shortly before this post was deleted, it was summer. Summer was about four minutes long this year, and all of it consisted of traveling for work. It was June 19th and I said, “Summer is a-coming.” Then it turned June 20th. My birthday. I turned 28, four minutes passed, and now here we are. In that heartbeat of a summer, I went everywhere.

Los Angeles. . .

San Diego. . .

Seattle. . .

Even Las Vegas. . .

And to think, I was content to just stick around home and enjoy a nice, leisurely summer! My travels eventually led me all the way to Cologne, Germany.

You see? A veritable meter of beer. The metric system means it’s German. Cologne, Germany is apparently famous for drinking one and only one kind of beer, labeled Kölsch, which I believe is a German word meaning “unremarkable” or “bearing the qualities of Miller.” They’re also allegedly famous for drinking the beer out of these chic but insubstantial vials.

The city also had a towering gothic cathedral, a true marvel of human craftsmanship and engineering.

↑ Here’s an image of it still existing, some seventy years after the rest of the city was bombed to a godforsaken pulp. A triumph for Christianity, or just bad aim? The debate wages on.

Germany was fine though, otherwise, the German people a delight. Each man I encountered was more charming and handsome than the last, until finally I was face-to-face with an actual Übermensch. It was at that point that I left Germany.

Approximately seventeen seconds later, I made my way to Japan for a two-year reunion. It was a bit of an emotional typhoon. There may have also been an actual typhoon going on while I was there; in these privileged times, I’ve lost all concept of natural disaster.

Emotional, you see, for I was able to retrace my exact steps from the life I’d left behind. With my friend still living in my old apartment, I was able to stay there for an entire week, rent free. I awoke in my own former living room, next to my own former guitar,  greeted by my own former morning view. The heat and humidity was far worse than I had remembered. I spent the entirety of my Japan trip teetering precariously between consciousness and heat stroke. The vending machines, they make perfect sense.

↑ This used to be my view every morning. The elderly neighbor grows her own crops (left).

↑ I learned that last year, my street had flooded with rain. The water reached 1.3 meters, easily waist level for the average man. This sign was marked in commemoration.

↑ I had hoped to go on a hunt for my old cycle–which I’d abandoned before my departure two years ago–and then use it throughout my stay, not realizing that my friend had  retrieved it just after I left. Unfortunately, the flooding had rusted it beyond use. It would have been completely submerged.

↑ There’s great joy in simply doing things you used to do routinely but then stopped doing. This Circle K convenience store was about a block away from my apartment, and hence a true crutch and friend during my time there. Look how cleanly aligned all the products are–especially in the jetlagged hours of the morning.

↑ A visit to a favorite local café, Café Liv. I’d never mustered the strength to arrive in time for the “morning service,” so this was both a nostalgia trip and a first-time treat. One of the things I was surprised to find myself missing about Japan was its ceramic ware. Note the little imperfections in the circumference of the lip. Wabi sabi, my friends. It’s a thing.

↑ My old multi-purpose multimedia shop. 50 yen for non-new release rentals? It used to be a steal at 100 yen, and that was supposed to be running for a limited time. The running joke amongst me and mine was that they kept extending the “limited time offer” but wouldn’t just commit to making it permanent. Two years later the offer is not only still running, it’s twice as good.

↑ The “Disgusting, Disgusting Tunnel,” as we used to call it back in the day. Still disgusting as ever. The spider in the upper right was about the size of a nightmare.

↑A reunion with an old friend and former owner of my very favorite place in Tajimi, Kichizato (previously mentioned here). Never mind that I’m twice his size in this photograph. Moments later he beat me in an arm wrestling match.

↑ Shin-san of the Great Hurry, an old hangout relocated. Shin gave me my first taste of vermouth and more free drinks than I’d earned.

↑I even got to see Dai-chan (center), a difficult human being but an excellent musician.

My time in Tajimi was short, hot, and bittersweet, but I suppose I was ready to leave when I did. The heaviest heart weights were all in Nagoya anyhow. I moved on to Nagoya for the homecoming of a lifetime.

↑In my beloved Yagoto district, I passed by the Shall building, where I used to live in Room 501, a single-room place that cost me close to $800 a month. I was amused to see the reggae accessories shop was still thriving on the bottom floor. Who would’ve thought I’d go out of style before Japanese reggae?

↑The main purpose of my return to Nagoya, and indeed, this blog, was to revisit Rosetta Stone–for the first time. What I mean is, while I was out, the Rosetta Stone as I knew it had been demolished due to a mandate by a local college. It had since moved right across the street into a slightly larger place. Above, I show my disgust at this heresy. “This is not what I’m used to!”

↑ The old Rosetta Stone, now replaced by a hideous, hulking wall. Still makes me a bit misty.

↑ Shin was mostly his usual self. When I strolled into his bar for the first time in over two years, he glanced my way for less than a second. “Ussss. Maido.” (Maido means “every time,” as in, thanks for coming every time. As in, something you say to someone who shows up regularly.)

But with the bar a bit larger and a bit more ostentatious than before, he was weirdly more focused on actually maintaining a business. It wasn’t very weird, but it was a little weird.

↑ My visit happened to coincide with an intense, all-night party where many of my old friends showed up. Among those who didn’t was Katayama-san. But I like to think he was there in some sense.

↑ I ended up having to stay at my own bartender’s condo two nights in a row. Days began blurring together. The view from the condo overlooked the Yagoto “spirit garden,” a vast, vast cemetery previously mentioned here.

My time in Nagoya may have brought some sense of closure to the life I’d once had there, though I don’t doubt that I’ll be back one day before too long. I would like to keep all my Nagoya people in my life in some capacity, as I feel that it more than any other place has defined my young adulthood. I’ll tell my grandkids about this, or failing that, other people’s grandkids.

Finally, I departed for Tokyo, where I would switch back into working gear. Well, mostly. It’s hard to visit the Metropolis to end all Metropolises without having a little fun. And get a load of the view:

2 thoughts on “A Summer of Traveling

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