Andrew’s world in Japan 2018/August

Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring the creative process & connecting with other creative people.

Seasons of Change

Twelve years ago was not my first visit to Japan, yet it was an important trip. It included a Tokyo Giants baseball game, a quick visit to Kyoto, amazing green tea in a Kyoto bamboo garden, an epic visit to Shinyokohama’s Raumen Museum and a taste of Tokyo experimental creative arts scene. Something triggered a change in 2006. I began to wake up, or my comatose creative soul began to demand attention. Did this trip flip me to that first time I arrived in Japan in 1987? For certain, creative forces buried deep began to reveal themselves.
Tokyo is an active environment that, for many, beckons experimentation, exploration and awareness. Granted, if you are a salaryman, that office grind can make revelations very difficult. Where I came from was not so different in shape to a salaryman. Working for a bank in San Francisco, I could relate. Taking several weeks off to travel and explore Japan heightens your ability to reflect on life. In my heart, I was very frustrated. So much so that destructive behaviors were not unheard of. That there was a museum dedicated to raumen, and it was curated to a high standard opened my eyes to the potential this combination of food, history, crafts and culture offer. My attention moved from a frustrated focus on earning more money and esteem to imagining alternatives.

Lifestyles of San Francisco were different from Portland, and those of Tokyo and Kyoto strikingly novel all the more. The level of care, craft and service was incredible to me. Physically I changed. After returning from Kyoto on the Shinkansen, I fell into heavy flu. Daily the symptoms worsened in step with my condition. Movement became impossible. Barely able to lift myself to use the toilet, eat or even drink water, I had become completely bedridden. My body refused to function. There was a serious concern for my health. Immobile and in dire straits, my concern was to not spend money on a hospital visit over my health. During this illness, dreams I experienced grew more impressively vivid and wildly demented. As my body attempted to combat this virus, my mind fought to shake off its own shackles. Many may agree with typical theories that suggest dreams are just a natural attempt to make sense of it all. Too often, dreams (even nightmares), allow deeply buried thoughts and emotions cross from the subconscious to the conscious mind. The main dream I had revolved around then President Bush Jr and issues of deep-seated shame at being an American.

Sliding in and out of consciousness usually occurred through fits of uncontrollable laughter switching into vomiting thick green bile. Each return to dreamland saw the development of a new landscape. The central recurring dream had me, through public discourse, debates and due process, become president of the US of A. There are quite a number of ways dreams are interpreted, but I’m quite certain my subconscious was attempting to shake me out of my limited mental paradigm. A week later, I pushed myself to attend an opening to see some friends before I left to go home. Live free jazz type experimental music kicked off the event putting people in a mood open to explore and let loose. Papers, wall spaces and an overhead projector with different colored liquids all called to be explored. Visitors wrote notes, drew pictures, made sounds and genuinely expressed themselves. It was liberating, bringing a sense of contributory control into a rather chaotic situation. The fever dreams had emerged in reality. I believe this could occur anywhere for anyone, it just so happened this unfolded in Tokyo.