Last night, as the typhoon was still lashing Okinawa, when I got to the station at Ofuna and the train doors opened I just thought sea. The entire air had been convulsed and moiled, like a salty, kelp-loden interlude. I found it refreshing, inviting. A geographical shift; unexpected. As I walked up the hill to the house the air was mist-covered; shrouded, but clear. Touching, vaguely, on spooky, but more on the magical tip; with things and plants thrown into silhouetted, gloomy relief against the electric light of the moon, despite what a Japanese friend called, intriguingly, ‘this disquieting air’.






Today, as it rages across the country, offloading water by the godfull , causing all kinds of havoc in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima, Kyushu: where we are, near the capital, it was sunny this morning, only tinting into bruised and blowy by the afternoon, when the winds began to blow and the grasses by the river in the centre of Yokohama were streaming in undulation, as though they already somehow thought that they were swimming, under water – oceanic.





Tonight, coming home ( I should have taken the bus, of course but couldn’t resist being exposed to the rain), by 10pm it still felt safe enough to walk: the eye of this typhoon, weakened, in all probability by its journey across Japan, due to hit us directly at about 3am this morning – about three hours or so precisely from when I am typing this.






I wanted to smell it, though. To just breathe it in and see how it altered the landscape. Coming out of the station I hesitated to open my umbrella, at first, as the rain – warm, spattering, iodized, delicious – encountered my face in a lung-bathing softness of summer life  wetness. I marvelled at the way that the pungent loam of recent moisture, of decaying white June flowers, vetiver grass, lilies and fire flies had been usurped, denied, by these winds that are freshening and replenishing the air with pine-kissed, mistral winds; the precursors, of levity, of the mammoth, swirling eye-storm you see in these pictures (taken of the supertyphoon at the zenith of its terrifying strength yesterday, from the Soyuz station,watching the whole scene serenely, keenly, from that galactical, fascinating vantage point of silent tranquillity in the sky) and which has unleashed its fury on other places across the continent but, which should, if the meteorological reports are to be believed, just pass over us tonight, not unpunished, but not destructive.







The balcony has been evacuated, just in case –  all plants brought inside to prevent them flying away. The cat has gone out just now, briefly, but I know that she’ll be back soon in all probability (though this is definitely not guaranteed  – this cat loves the hair-raising excitement of a typhoon (as do we, secretly; as do my students, too, when I asked them about it tonight) and you can sometimes hear her, with another of the neighbourhood cats , taking risks and running about, wildly, in wind and the rain, her heart beating wildly; calling out; rushing about; adrenalized, even as we try and shout to her, not daring at this point to venture outside, to call her back in to the window shut confines.)







Tomorrow the sky will be washed clean. Blue as hell. Exonerated. The days after a typhoon in Japan are some of the most beautiful weather you could possibly experience. It’s almost like being reborn. Everything sullen, moulding, has been torn away and eliminated; even tonight I could smell a harbinger of this in the air as the vegetation on the mountainside prepared itself in readiness for the ‘purification’. There were already twigs and grass on the ground lining the usually neat and well kempt roads; by tomorrow morning there will be branches, leaves in droves and all  manner of messy, natural detritus; but it will feel post-deluvial; glad, dry; sun-kissed. I only wonder now whether I will get any sleep.





























Filed under Flowers


  1. Lilybelle

    I didn’t know you were having a typhoon there! I hope it passed over you with no damage, and just the excitement. Did you get any sleep? I wouldn’t have.

  2. ninakane1

    Stay well! Love what you’ve written here. Thinking of you both cocooned with plants listening to the wind and the wild wild antics of typhoon-happy Mori and sending you protection and of course love through a late-night whiskey- fuelled haze xxx

  3. ninakane1

    No, not at all. Pas de tout! A typhoon’s a typhoon. Who knows where it’ll land. You could have been blown away and the house collapse had it hit your area. It’s right for you to take all necessary precautions and worry and right for your friends to worry too and shower you with protective vibes and wishes (albeit from some, drunken, at a 6,000 mile distance). I’m glad you were safe. But I know what you mean about the drama of things like that…there’s a little bit of Mori in all of us perhaps that as much as we hope we’ll stay safe there’s a curious joy in the thought of running out into the gale and howling at the storm… c’est la vie!

    Anti-climaxes are always weird though! I remember once working in a God-awful office supplies company on the basis that they needed extra hands as they had just done a mammoth mail-out of 50,000 brochures to PAs and secretaries up and down the country and ‘it was going to hit big come Monday!’ I was employed late on the Friday afternoon and told to be in at 7am on the Monday as they were going to be deluged with calls. Having been showed the ropes I then spent the most hyped up couple of hours imaginable wearing an uncomfortable green tweed suit and court shoes, ill-fitting earphones digging into my head, and an intense group of five or six women downing coffee and saying ‘when that clock hits 9 you won’t have a moment to breathe’, ‘it’s going to be big’ ‘you won’t know what’s hit you’, ‘it is going to be crazy in here’ etc etc. Inevitably five to 9 came and we were all ordered to stop talking and sit with headphones on, fingers poised over our computer buttons, breath held waiting to speak brightly into germ-laden mouthpieces (ugh!)… at 1 minute to 9, they all started saying ‘This is it! Here we go’… and then the hand ticked to 9 and — nothing! (of course). No calls Nada. Everyone held their breath till about five past … by ten past everyone breathed out (dying)…by quarter past people started fiddling with the buttons on the computer pretending to be busy…by twenty past people looked red-faced and irritated… by half-past someone suggested making a coffee (I said yes please, everyone else hissed nooooo!!!)…It was PAINFUL. By 9.35 I was suppressing the hideous urge to laugh, whilst struggling to find a facial expression that conveyed polite remorse but calm optimism for the owners of the company who understandably were a bit perplexed (and who had started glaring at me, the employee who was now costing them money unnecessarily)…by 9.45 people were questionning the efficiency of Royal Mail in outraged tones, speculating that errant posties must have dumped the catalogues in a river somewhere…and still the time ticked on…THEN at 10-51 (I kid you not) the damn phone rang and it came through on my terminal! I hit the bottom, jealous eyes pouncing on me all around, said ‘Good Morning, Office Supplies, can I take your order?…A box of a hundred pencils, certainly…If I can just take your name – Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms?’ At which point an enraged bunch of colleagues hissed ‘THERE IS NO MS ON THE COMPUTER FIELD!!!!’ and my speedy exit from that job was already in the bag…

  4. You have somehow managed to make a Typhoon seem slightly romantic and intriguing. Touche!

  5. Reblogged this on The Black Narcissus and commented:

    As I head off to work in an approaching typhoon…..this is what a typhoon smells like

  6. Tara C

    No typhoons here in Montréal, but I do enjoy our thunderstorms. I love the gathering heaviness in the air, the darkening skies, then the big gusts of wind and finally the deluge. I live across the street from a heavily frequented public park and there are always shrieks and squeals as the rain and thunder cause a sudden mass exodus, while I watch with amusement from my flat.

  7. Filomena

    You writing ability is beyond superb! What a fantastic post.
    Thank you.

  8. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    We are as yet awaiting the thunder and storm and rain after weeks of drought.
    Heat suffocates me and locks me in – incapable of doing anything, unused to the height of temperature; feel like hissing when I touch water in a rare swimming spree…

    Threat of fire terrifies ; I was once near the forest fires in Spain and fled from the sight; everybody prayed for windstillness.
    Fire and wind together could not be envisioned.

    Those big forces of nature earth, wind, fire and water offer me terror and elation, the Russian roulette of existence .

    Being and staying alive a Conditio sine qua non … this could not be written

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