Tag Archives: Japanographer

how to be a japanographer

a long time ago
in mexico
my teacher-friend heather dowd
spoke of her time in japan
in a quiet voice
as if we were in church.

“it’s not possible”
she said,
“to take
a bad photo
in japan.”

i loved
that she thought that.

i confess
to a box full of bad shots
of japan.

i took them when we first arrived.

after two years in bangkok
(an extrovert’s city
where people never stop
we moved to japan.

our arrival
was not a gentle
touching down
but the crash-landing
of foreigners
who don’t yet know their way.

the first english we heard
a message on the airport shuttle
“please do not annoy your neighbours.”
too late.
we were cymbals and horns honking
while japan looked politely away.

time passed
in that gracious way
that time has.

we still can’t tell a taxi driver
how to get to our house
but we’re acclimating.

to really live in japan
one must learn
to slow down.

& listen.

like little kids
crossing the street,
we learn
to pay attention.

at the early learning centre
at our school
one student reminds another,
“cuddle soft like a feather.”
gentle hugs only.

in japan, we cuddle soft
like a feather.

i want you to know
that it’s hard
to take a bad photo
in japan.

even in the grey
concrete corners
of too-big cities
or in the jumble of things
co-existing in a too-small space,
japan is beautiful.

like a pink umbrella
on a winter’s day.

like most women,
likes to have her photo taken.

especially by someone
who loves her.