"The traveler keeps asking himself: what happens to all the impressions? What new form do you transform them into?"
"In September 2018 I visited Japan for the third time, and ended in the Yuzawa-Machi region, about 5 hours from Tokyo. The bus ride took us further and further into foggy, lush green landscapes, ravines, humble hills and mountains. A bus excursion always reminds us of childhood and creates this inimitable warmth. The neighboring villages and small towns seemed deserted and passed in front of me with a comforting emptiness. Unvisited little shops adorned with large colored letters seemed to glow in contrast to the dark green hills and the black wet asphalt. Road workers with neon swords for every task, no matter how significant, to ensure a safe route. Abandoned restaurants that were once called Grindelwald and where “pasta salad” was offered, totally Ghibli, clubs and bars that never opened, constructions that were never even completed, remaining in their shells, as I have seen so often in southern Italy or Georgia. The crisis at the beginning of the 90s brought a lot of ideas and dreams to a standstill.
Our pension seemed to appear straight from an early Murakami novel in which the hotel "Dolphin" is the main character. Here it was called the « Grand Bleu », which nailed another funny closeness. My room had a pleasantly relaxing sadness, the curtains, the carpeting, the shower cabin, everything in forgotten colors. The breakfast room, 100% washable, looked like a youth hostel without self-service, and the breakfast rather European, but touching in its efforts of imitation.
Japan internalized this : « There is no copy because there is no original ». You can think about it for a long time.
I remember this Italian musician who preferred to bring his own pasta, parmigiano and tomato cans. I was impressed and that also made me feel serene. It is not so difficult to find an excellent carbonara in Tokyo, even if it is actually in one of those legendary jazz bars. You literally stumble across these places and can’t ever be disappointed. And there again Murakami. We read and watch movies so as to have the fictional materializing right in front of our eyes at some point. This makes a day full of happiness, meeting the heartfelt essence of things.
The main entrance room was full of scattered, muddy shoes, myself always wrongly prepared for any kind of weather. Especially when attending remote festivals, be it in the mountains, or by the raging sea if I think of Taiwan a year later and 3 days constantly exposed to a heavy drizzle, destroying my seersucker blazer and Chelsea boots. Remembering those facts amuse me and makes me hope that I will never do better. Picturing this is dispensing the laborious and uncomfortable moments.
Your own life should always look like a novel.
During those days there was no pasta salad, but grilled mackerel, tuna sashimi, marinated potatoes baked with cheese and a few things that I don't remember but that I haven't eaten anywhere else.
Japan demands a different kind of attention when it comes to food.
Chris Marker described it so aptly in Sans Soleil. It is poetry.
It’s easy to find an empty restaurant in Japan, which helps you getting the maximum attention, being the only guest, and the quality of the food never seems to suffer from it. Empty restaurants have always touched me, the ones that never get quoted by recommendations and so undeservedly remain without guests.
Places that just wait, maybe they are the parallel worlds we want ? Eventually I'm talking about lost paradises.
Paradise has abundance but is not overloaded, paradise might have disappeared but its heart is still beating."