It’s a strange feeling when suddenly you are taken out of your familiar environment, and then you watch from outside as a simple viewer.
For many years I had the opportunity of working at Shimokitazawa. It’s a small little town cramped with tiny shops, cafes, theaters, live music joints and bars.
I hanged around first in the music clubs, or as in Japan they call live houses.
Back then, not that was a dangerous area, as it is hard to find a real dangerous area in Japan. But it had a certain dark and why not, a depressive vibe.
It could be the old rust buildings. It could be the strange characters that were attracted to the bars. People that usually wouldn’t hang in Shibuya or Shinjuku areas, too “hype” for those misfits.
Shimokitazawa offered on its small alleys a place for those outsiders to hide from the sunlight.
Now the area surrounding the station are going through major changes. The train that was crossing and cutting the town in half, lays deep underground. No more traffic, no more crossings that made people stuck for long minutes during the train rush hours.
Also, no more sound. No more sound of the train clinching wheels, station speakers and voices of people from the platforms bouncing in the ceiling and echoing through the streets.
The area turning according to governmental and corporation plans. A clean, safe and business minded. One more area for shopping. One more attraction to be consumed.
In this deep and dark surroundings lay my memories. Good times I had here, but no tears, no regrets.
I can say that I had the opportunity of working in the golden ages of this town. Like time, it does not stop. It keeps moving, it keeps changing.
When first I opened the shop, I had to face obviously the fear of unknown. Many neighbors surely wondered what I was doing.
Diabolical plans? Conspiracy? Or pure mind crime?
Answers never were the point. Questioning was a true exercise .
My way of dealing with these preconceptions were rather simple. Waking up earlier than anybody surrounding, cleaning the shop front, making sure no drunks would be laying on the way of passerby’s.
Simple simple . Hard hard, if you do that as a mantra for decades. In the end, I was able to feel comfortable in a place I could call my city, my neighborhood .
True believer that the micro-cosmos of that town would be the foundation of my work. The anti-these of globalization and the banal, the common sense.
Having a home base, a place I could play my cards and knowing that I couldn’t be cheated. Comfortable, easy to get used. Not for a free spirit like me, not enough to sit in some throne and accept people bowing and kissing my hand. Screw that…
I looked above my shoulders, I looked above my next possibilities. And I accepted my fate, my first step to the unknown.
I’m not being nostalgic. Not either lost in the transitions. Just accepting the flow and embarking to a new trip, even if that means starting from the very deep once again.