I’ve blogged before about Kodaira, the semi-rural neighbourhood in western Tokyo where R. and I lived for eight years, from 2003 – 2011. Ironically, it was meant to be a way-station as my “three-year Japan adventure” went into over-time. What I didn’t expect was that it would turn into yet another turning point in the story of my life: one where the hero decides once and for all to embrace the new direction events seemed to lead him, and not just an anecdote, a time-out chapter before the story returns to the narrative arc awaiting back home in Toronto.
In fact, the eight years I spent in Kodaira is the longest I’ve ever lived at one address… but this blog threatens to turn into a post about my peripatetic childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. And then you, gentle reader, would have no context for that nice little slideshow at the end of the text…
For eight years we lived in our little 3DK apartment (three bedrooms, one converted into a living room and another a walk-in closet; eat-in kitchen).
Winters we dashed through the unheated kitchen to the unheated toilet and wore Heattech underwear 24/7. Same as our neighbours, mostly newlywed couples saving money ’til the first baby arrived and a bigger place was needed. In winter, the best part of the day is the shower: the only time you truly feel warm. On rare snow days I tramped about, camera in hand.
A family of green and brown geckos by our front door announced the arrival of spring. First they were a pair. Then, like our newlywed neighbours they had a baby. Unlike our neighbours, the geckos stuck around. Eventually they were joined by a third adult. Apparently geckos don’t feel constrained by traditional definitions of marriage. The blooms on the landowner’s sakura cherry tree blown from the branches by wind and rain – too soon! oh too soon! – reminded us not to get our hopes up: Summer was coming.
We broiled in the heat and humidity of Tokyo’s summers as insomniac cicadas kept us awake through the night. Mould grew in the drains. On our clothes. On our skin. The best part of the day was the shower: the only time you truly felt clean. Every summer we would throw in the towel, so to speak, and light out for Canada, for America, for Europe. Anywhere. Anywhere but here.
Autumn blew in on the tails of typhoons and, much as our little apartment was buffeted like a ship at sea, this was, is, the best season in Tokyo: warm days and cool nights, perfect for tramping in the mountains or through the city, sans the relentless white noise of air conditioner and de-humidifier or heater and humidifier. Persimmons grow plump on the trees.
Dried persimmon leathers harbinger the coming of winter. The geckos move slower, then disappear into cracks under the roof.
We finally decided to move a few years ago, when I made an honest woman of R. and she an honest man of me. Relentless commutes drew us closer to the city, but we both craved fresh air. A little space around us. Nerima may not be countryside, but last spring an orangey-yellow gecko dashed through the open window of my study. Our neighbour keeps a goat to eat all the fallen persimmons in his orchard.
Enjoy the pictures!