THE HYPERGOURMAND : CHAI (2015) + PERVERSO (2019) by BARUTI

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We drink our beverages hot, even in summer. Piping hot tea and coffee – always ; the only exception being iced Vietnamese lotus tea – which is extraordinarily light and refreshing on a sweltering, humid day.

 

 

In Indian restaurants I also like my chai freshly off the boil – so hot it burns the mouth and I know I have to wait. Rare that it has that perfect balance, though : of cardamom, ginger, masala, cloves, cinnamon – I think in a lot of popular places they don’t always have the time to blend all the spices in, and it can occasionally be too milky and bland.

 

No such problems with Amsterdam based luxury niche brand Baruti, who present a fresh, potent, perfectly balanced photorealistic chai to your skin with notes of steamed milk, ginger –  cardamom – all the spices to the fore;  cocoa, roses, vanilla and a base note of leather. It is a delicious summation, even if at extrait strength, this is probably a gourmandish hologram you probably want to keep between you and your wrist. Too much and you might cause contextual confusion in your anticipated audience ( ‘where am I again?) – a synaptic gamechanger.

 

I don’t really tend to wear full on gourmands myself, though  I love the dry, moisture sucking nuttiness of the coumarin note in Hermessence Vetiver Tonka, a perfume that smells great on me – not too sweet or too asphyxiating, an ‘overpresence’ I associate with the decadence of the more luxuriant current gourmands. Baruti keeps a judicious hand  – just – with the sugar jar in both Chai and the house’s latest release, Perverso, which like its fitting name, IS quite headstrong and uncompromising with its caramellized whisky of tobacco, chocolate and an extreme overdose of hazelnut : an accord that whirls about you, as though you were smoking a pipe through a face smeared lovingly in Nutella.

 

I happen to be very susceptible to nuts in chocolate : gianduja, noisette; pralines: the taste drives me………  nuts. In perfume terms I would probably rather smell this on someone else: on my own skin I would feel somewhat scandalized. Still, combined with darker woody and amber notes, in the base, used in moderation – one spritz, say, on a chestnut or russet coloured turtleneck as you walk into your local espresso bar I can imagine a subtle sillage of Perverso being quite chic; effective. Those with severe nut allergies, however, need definitely not apply.*

 

 

 

 

*figuratively speaking

 

 

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Filed under Ginger, Gourmand

asshole

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I had just bought a perfect Vol De Nuit vintage boxed extrait; an imperfect Infini; a Kenzo deodorant stick ; and my first ever full bottle of Rochas Byzance

 

(Burning Bush is already desperate to wear this musky, tuberose tribute to Poison and Ysatis)

 

 

 

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[pre- Covid Cabaret,on stairs, last Sunday}

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{ – the shit heap where D parked his bike today }

 

 

 

– and had met D after work for shenanigans.

 

 

 

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Admittedly, like the British louts we probably are, we were drinking a can of surreptitious lager down an unfamiliar street in Kamakura post work

 

 

 

 

 

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– minding our own business near the mossy steps of a closed down library and what looked like a decommissioned school.

 

 

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When rude old Japanese men approach and start speaking their version of English, clearly egging for an insult, I usually try to avoid them : run a  mile. Naturally, as with any segment of society, there are ‘good apples and bad apples’; and people are generally so dignified here that they would never intrude on your personal space in the first place.
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{ sometimes I think it would be most amenable to just be able to transform into BB in the split hair of a microsecond to scare away mouldering bigot invaders without having to endure their intolerably stupid and impolite versions of conversation }.

 

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( a truly groanworthy pun, but this bakery DOES do a delicious brown spongy loaf ).

 

 

Anyway, if this kind of thing hadn’t happened before. I wouldn’t say anything; just laugh it off as ‘amusing.’ However, moronic, othering interactions are legion here, as I am sure Michael and Emma will attest. D is too polite to ever say anything : I tend to cut these assholes short with my sharp, seething snake tongue.

 

 

ASSHOLE (A) ‘ America ‘?

Neil and Duncan ( ND) ( ….. already extraordinarily bored as two minute complete failure to communicate ensues; English not understood; Japanese not computing, as is often the case : the disbelief that the foreigner could possibly be uttering words in the native language).

 

The UK.

 

England.

 

 

( A) : ?

?

 

 

ND :   Igirisu.

 

 

A : Aaah, England. I have been to your country three times

 

 

( Neil Chapman, incredibly bored; eyes rolling into the back of the hollow sockets ;  speaks in low tones, knowing what is coming, flat as a pancake )

 

 

: oh really how was it

 

 

A :

 

 

Are you drinking Japanese beer ?

( looks at Kirin and Sapporo cans of beer ; peepholes register recognition of domestic brand ie utterly pointless comment)

 

 

ND ( politely praising brewery companies, even though we actually rate them VERY low compared to other countries: Japan is definitely near the bottom internationally in terms of beer, but what is a boy to do ? )

 

( slightly raised, optimistic voice in order not to offend )

 

 

in unison, like the twins in the lift in The Shining

 

 

YES. IT’s VERY NICE.

 

 

A :

 

English beer is terrible . Warm !

German beer is so much better !!!

 

 

(Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson ; )

 

 

YES ( demurring with fake laughter ):

 

Mild, Bitter, etc but there are also

 

ASSHOLE CUTS IN TO DUNCAN’s SWEET REPLY

 

 

– –   and the food is very

 

 

 

LOW LEVEL.

 

 

 

So simple ! Not delicious, like France

 

 

( Burning Bush starts murmuring within, dreaming of whirling machetes )

 

 

 

ND ( bored to death )

 

 

 

– staring out like slugs in slime

 

 

 

……..

 

 

 

A:

 

 

But your country does have one good thing

 

 

 

( four eyeballs stare out like cold boiled potatoes willing the intrusive cretin away)

 

 

 

whatisthatthen

 

 

A:

 

 

Your country controlled the world !

 

 

Very powerful !

 

 

( yawning abysses itch their knuckles)

 

 

How long are you here in Japan ?

 

NEIL CHAPMAN:

 

 

THREE DAYS.

 

( unable to contain extraordinary Maggie Smith depths of irritation)

 

 

ASSHOLE

 

 

SO SHORT !

 

 

I hope we meet again

 

 

 

NEIL CHAPMAN

 

 

I HOPE NOT.

 

 

 

 

( Loping fool cycles off )

 

 

 

 

****

 

 

 

 

Obviousiy, this was not a particularly harrowing incident. It is just stupid. It’s fine. We have experienced it many times before. It’s just extraordinarily dull, and I look forward to that generation dying out.

 

 

It is not that I am the nationalistic type: that much should be obvious to anyone who reads this blog. The old fart is entitled to his opinions. I also prefer German beer on the whole, because it is utterly delicious, drunk cold from the bottle; though it has to be said that the British beer/ ale culture is a centuries old tradition, and there is every type imaginable, from chilled lagers to room temperature mild and bitters to craft beers, but anyway ; it is like talking to a piece of plasticine : an unthinking imbecile.

 

And yes : I also vastly prefer Asian food on the whole, but the tedious, so familiar put downs of British food are also very unjustified ( the point, obviously, is why does this asshole, like many before him, feel the need to say all of this in the first place to complete strangers ; why be so offensive ?)

 

 

The British Empire ? What can I say?  Practically every problem that is unfolding in the world today is connected to it ; I have never been an imperialist (and let’s not even BEGIN to talk about what happened in Asia with the delightfully kind Japanese Imperial Army).

 

The point is : all of this was completely unnecessary. By reducing us to a crude national stereotype this poor bewildered fuckwit created a highly unpleasant atmosphere that sent my blood roaring (WHY, asshole, WHY?!!)

 

 

I honestly can’t imagine walking up to strangers in the UK ( or here ); finding out what nation they ‘come from’, and then deliberately trying to rile them, out of the blue, with banal, and prejudiced TRIPE.Tripe that dribbled from this quivering fucktard’s lips like a drooling banana.

 

 

 

FUCK YOU !!!!!

 

 

 

 

******

 

 

 

Naturally, I should probably delete this crass, unseemly ‘Black Narcissus Post.’ I might. This might be an on fire limited edition burning Bush. I can’t be arsed to go back and edit like I normally would; if there are errors blame it on the Creature. In the scheme of things, I of course realize that this is PRECISELY NOTHING compared to being shot to death, beaten; having a cold fascist with his knee to your throat placidly watching the life drain out of you in a callous, act devoid of common humanity. And black people get it SO, so much worse also here as well ( and let’s not start talking about China, where the current situation is HEINOUS in that regard – people running from African Americans when they see them in the street etc; legitimate foreign residents having to be airlifted out of their racist environs). I am profoundly aware of the difference. This was just an afternoon quibble. A tidbit. I brushed it off. We had a good old bitch about how tired we are of these ‘rogai’(or old assholes): it is nothing new. They can’t help their stunted vision; their reductionist idiocy ( I suppose, even though I actually think that they can). Still, they stain the air around them. All bigots do. All racists do ( seriously, fuck you). Grow a brain. Become human. Think. Philosophize. Realize the human condition. Learn that we all come the same shared DNA. Stop othering ( so fucking dull ; just TREAT PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS, WITH RESPECT. DO NOT LIMIT YOUR PERCEPTION OF THEM. DO NOT FOIST YOUR TEDIOUS PRECONCEPTIONS ONTO THEM; USE YOUR HIGHER INSTINCTS, NOT YOUR BASE ONES, AMOEBA).

 

 

 

Not that I wanted to talk to this dickhead in the first place, but you know what?

 

 

We could have had a perfectly pleasant conversation. It was a nice evening. We were loving the balmy Kamakura June night. The infuriating exchange was totally unnecessary.

 

 

 

 

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We had a lovely dinner, at that same Chinese place again. Packed. Full of young people. The atmosphere was thrumming and delightful, and the food was delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After, we went up our beautiful local hill in contented silence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under autobiography, B0RN TO BE TROPICAL, Depressed, destroying the shackles of heterosexuality, FUCK EVERYTHING, FURIOUS PERFUME CRITIC, HOT MESS, I really do have a bad feeling about all of this, inexplicable happenings, JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY, JOUISSANCE, LOVE, LUXURIANCE, occasionally sickening scents, Oceanic, Psychodrama, religious hatred and death, Republican, SCANDAL, SELF-OBSESSION, SEXBOMB, Slinky, THE WORLD, this is not a perfume review, Tokyo Art Museums, Uncategorized, unleashing the shackles of heterosexuality, Urine, Voyeur

rain

 

 

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A gloom has descended as the rainy season begins; we are energyless; listless, this weekend, after the return to work. It has been more positive and energising than I anticipated, if fraught and suffocating in all the headgear -but  on Friday I was so zoned out, blasé :  I felt almost as if I no longer existed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just been to the local shops for provisions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cakes.  Condensation, like rain, on the refrigerator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love custard, and could not resist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Had to stop to take a picture of these roses.

 

 

 

 

 

But can you believe that I forgot to smell them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Even the cat has picked up the melancholy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We were supposed to be going to the Black Lives Matter march in Tokyo this afternoon, which a lot of our Tokyoite friends are attending; but have decided to donate instead. I feel guilty, but after all this quarantining and caution, the thought of crowds shouting and mingling when the coronavirus is still circulating up there  – right in the centre of the city, especially Shinjuku, the area we go to the most – is just too daunting. Call me a coward.

 

 

 

 

 

Lily-livered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These are the magnolias I mentioned the other day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took these pictures on Thursday – I got there just in time. Now most of them are decomposing on the branch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20 Comments

Filed under autobiography, Flowers, JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY, this is not a perfume review

STRANGE FRUIT

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Billie Holiday is usually associated with gardenias, the flowers she would wear in her hair when singing. But I can’t help associating her with magnolias. I first heard Strange Fruit – a raw and unflinching song, one of her signatures, when I was sixteen after borrowing a friend’s Billie Holiday tape. And though there were other songs I loved on it – in particular Don’t Explain, a melancholic melody I like to play on the piano; with its uncanny, harrowing poetry – a grimly sardonic and angry description of a southern lynching, Strange Fruit was always conspicuously different from her other work. It is a barely suppressed horror, set to a slow, sombre melody and gothic imagery evocative of Edgar Allen Poe ; one of the first ever political protest songs ever recorded.

 

 

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I have just been down by the giant magnolia tree in the centre of a very overgrown and weed covered park, whose flowers are as wide as great lily pads, splayed open in the sun. Already past pristine. As always, I smell those flowers and think again of this song, contemplating the fact that though Holiday released this in 1939, more than eighty years have passed and her country, the world – is yet to remedy the racist ills and evil crimes that she was describing. We are still plagued to the core by diseases of various origins, literal; economic; social. At the roots. If given the chance, I wonder what song she would be singing now.

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Filed under Flowers

NEFERTITI by MAHER OLFACTIVE (2020)

 

 

 

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Nefertiti is independent perfumer Shawn Mayer’s tribute to/ interpretation of Miles Davis’ 1968 ‘post-bop’ album Nefertiti – a record I am unfamiliar with ( I am not a jazz buff, nor a Davis collector, even if I love Kind Of Blue, the psychedelic freak funk of On The Corner and Bitches Brew,  and in particular,, the exquisite Sketches Of Spain). I can’t comment on any aural/olfactory similarities.

 

 

 

 

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For me, the perfume – a strange, cavernous, and mysterious scent, musty, subdued, cool and green, with notes of kyphi incense, ‘jazz cigarette’, oud, musk, vetiver, a lingering heart of immortelle absolute ( a note I am never comfortable with, too sweet and medicinal); jasmine, and, in the opening accord based on the unique perfume that the queen Nefertiti herself is said to have worn – orchid leaf and honey  –   is a cool and wreathing, enigmatic oddity that rather than the pioneering brilliance of the experimentalist Miles Davis, puts me more in mind of a day I once spent at the Altes Museum in Berlin a decade ago, one of the institutions on the ‘Museum Island’  that controversially houses perhaps the most fascinating and mesmerizing artwork I have ever seen : the bust of Nefertiti created by Egyptian sculptor Thutmose circa 1345 BC.

 

 

 

 

 

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Encased in glass, in a black space by itself, I was utterly stunned by the eerie, pulsating life force this work exhibited; a magnetic pull that felt like magic. This was a physical sensation of alarm, vulnerability and fascination simultaneously; my heart racing as though it were knowingly casting a spell on me. There was a power. I would keep encircling the statue,  from back to front, unable to tear myself away.

 

 

 

 

 

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The pictures here do not remotely do this creation justice. The reality is both much smaller, slender – yet also bigger. Commanding. In fact, when the archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt came across the perfectly preserved bust in an ancient craftsman’s underground chamber in 1912 , he was so overcome by its life force, commenting, as he held it in his hands, that  ‘it is ALIVE. It cannot be described in words. It must be seen’.

 

 

 

 

 

The Nefertiti bust is pictured during a press preview of the exhibition 'In The Light Of Amarna' at the Neues Museum in Berlin

 

 

 

 

 

Maher Olfactive’s perfume is of course not as bewitching nor compelling as this magnificent work of art. Nothing could be. But it does, I find, also plunge you straight into a different sphere and shadowed headspace, like the airless darkness, the hushed intrigue you often experience as you pass through the atrium of a museum and move through to the exhibits. The perfume has its own peculiar, resinous glow that in the gentle, persistent, if quite eloquent and melancholic base is almost redolent of old Christian Diors such as Diorling –  even Rochas’ Mystère.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A curiosity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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13 Comments

Filed under Incense

i got through the week

86B0C570-1D38-4CD2-AFED-EA30ED1031ED

13 Comments

June 5, 2020 · 9:53 pm

HOT IN THE CITY : : JUNGLE JEZEBEL by SARAH BAKER (2016)

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DCAD39E7-4FA2-4F09-8945-49E19D7C6E0EAfter emerging scathed, from a well ventilated but still suffocating windowless room, I took great lungfuls of the hot city Yokohama air the second I stepped outside thinking : this it : I am outside in the second biggest city in Japan – there is no going back. There is probably virus everywhere : my mind reeled.

As the train pulled into Kitakamakura station half an hour later, the carriage doors opened and I was immersed, unambiguously, into the almost nauseatingly fecund air of the current season; muggy; flowers – mauve and lilac-coloured that feel like darkly overripe jasmine laced with dollops of civet, so strong the air feels heavy and dense, saturated with their perfume along with those foul, pollinating trees – whose names I also don’t know  – that smell like hot spunk.

Pushing my bike up the final stretch of the steep hill once I had finally reached the top and it was smooth sailing again, away from the inescapable funk of nature going wild, the nightscents – green mountain soil, honeysuckle, rapidly manifesting hydrangeas, balmy, blue-aired and cool, were a respite from the suppressed hysteria of the day; the clinical smells of bleach, hand sanitisers; my own breath.

Back home,D was on the phone with the Kawasaki theatre organizers about Sunday’s live performance for Covid Cabaret : a chance for singers and actors and mime artistes to perform while the art scene is still on lockdown :  I could hear his animated voice upstairs, muffled through the kitchen ceiling going over logistics.

I myself cracked open a beer and decided to smell Sarah Baker’s deliberately trashy adventure in sleaze, based on the HI-NRG song by the legendary Divine  : Jungle Jezebel.

This is no subtle perfume. With big, flesh eating manplant accords of trumpeting banana, pink bubblegum, and pooey civet, this smells like a huge-chested Glamazonian taking a dump in the equatorial bushgrowth. Giant hairy flowers surround her. Fruitbats. Armadillos. Rotting, spiky, durian fruits.

As tuberose and ylang ylang begin to appear in the blend alongside woods and vanilla,  this grotesque, yet hilarious,  perfume coagulates into a florientalia that we are perhaps more familiar with, in its sweetness and fullness, a mosquito bitten Mahora;  a smell-your -fingers Technicolor Odorama leopardskin nightmare of a dare.  I would not recommend this perfume for polite society. I am not sure I would even license its being work out in public ( but go on). It did, however, after the grueling day I had just had, bring a big smile to my face. And surely the wigged and eyelashes bottle alone is worth the price of a ticket.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Flowers

duncan/yukiro

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18 Comments

June 3, 2020 · 11:19 pm

Hi

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13 Comments

June 3, 2020 · 9:57 pm

MINGLING WITH LIFE : BACK INTO THE MELEE OF SOCIETY AFTER THREE MONTHS IN ISOLATION

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The day finally came yesterday and I went back to work. The Japanese government has lifted the state of emergency, and students have returned to their schools, meaning that there is no ‘legitimate’ reason to be refusing to go into the company buildings, even if the coronavirus is of course present (since the lifting of certain restrictions in Tokyo, there have already been new spikes this week). In truth, I feel far more compromised in terms of safety – we were so much better off being isolated here at home in Kamakura! – but a person needs to make a living. I sense that it would be futile to argue. I have good instincts about these things – usually I know how far I can push it. I have already had three months off, paid, albeit at reduced salary – but I am extraordinarily lucky compare to all those millions of people laid off around the world worrying about how to put food on the table – and I am grateful that they were flexible enough to let me go my own way by recording lessons at home which, one of the Japanese managers told me yesterday, many students had found enjoyable. Phew.

 

 

 

The day yesterday was fraught, hectic, and exhausting, but I have woken up today feeling revitalised. Something about just mingling with people, interacting, laughing, communicating and sounding off each other is energising for the human spirit even when there is concurrently a constant possibility of infection from a horrendous disease. Speaking Japanese again stimulated the brain; young people are automatically refreshing with their eagerness and energy; both lessons (90/100 minutes) got off to slow starts but were relatively ok by the end, even if I rushed outside at the earliest opportunity in order to rip off my mask and take a full breath. Panting at the exertion and the reduced intake of oxygen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The positives:

 

 

 

 

  1. Precautions were definitely being taken. Although I do worry a lot about the proximity of students in some classrooms, they are still further apart than they usually would be. That aside, EVERYONE is wearing masks. Everyone. On the streets, in shops – all students must wear them, and teachers have to have THIS ensemble: 61JwgkohedL._SX342_

 

 

 

 

…obviously beyond uncool – try this with glasses; mine steamed up immediately; I couldn’t see, hear or respire at all and I had to rip it off like a panic stricken dork. Given the current circumstances, it is probably unwise to be talking about being unable to breathe – but  – I literally couldn’t breathe. As a claustrophe, this get up is simply not possible for me; like some other teachers, I wore it more as a bib around the neck which defeats the purpose really, maybe better than nothing but unfortunately, I simply won’t be able to teach like this, possibly putting myself at risk.

 

 

 

Still, everyone’s temperature is checked, both teachers’ and students’, the moment they set foot in the school with a temperature gun  – which looks very odd at first, like a horror movie;  : who is that about to be shot in the head over there?  but I was impressed that such a contraption can register your temperature so quickly (how?). Mine was 36.3. Normal (though warm for me – I tend to be more lizard-like, around 35.5). Anything 37 or over and you are not allowed to teach or attend lessons. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that there will not be asymptomatic carries, but thus far there have been no cases of any students or teachers being infected in the entire organisation – that is thousands of people if you think of all the schools – so it does at least give a small level of reassurance. Students disinfect their hands; there are plastic sheets over the teachers’ rooms windows where the students come to ask questions; no eating is now allowed in the school; lessons are temporarily slightly shorter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2. I am delighted to have had my desk moved to its new location, which is a sociophobe self-isolator’s dream. I don’t have to stare uncomfortably into anyone’s face, awkwardly avoiding their gaze all day  – Japanese workers are usually placed opposite each other at a common table- , something that for me is akin to mild torture – as I am sat in the corner facing the wall (honestly, that might sound weird, but I find personally that even if you like someone, if they are facing you all day it is incredibly exhausting to the human spirit; conspicuously avoiding looking at someone, trying to get exactly the right balance of politeness but not intruding on them, is more fatiguing to me than I can even express here; I am so relieved I can sit where I sit now). There are empty classrooms I can go off to in that newer building where I can go and prepare and eat with the windows open when the mask wearing gets too much (my god it really does, doesn’t it? very quickly).  My colleagues there are people I like and who understand me ; no one was even slightly off with me among those I get on well with; I have a coterie of perhaps six or seven Japanese teachers I have socialised with in the past and got to know; we are all eccentric and actively like that aspect of each other so there is no pretending; I was having a laugh – thankfully, these people have a gallows humour so dark jokes about imminent death and so on are perfectly fine; my psychology needs that – I can’t do the ‘smile and pretend everything is happy’ thing as it alienates my consciousness- so that was a huge relief. . Admittedly, those people aside, some others in higher positions gave me a slightly condescending smile (Oh, you are back….), but who can blame them when I got special treatment and they had to toil at the height of the initial crisis trying to put lessons online and scrambling to make lessons there when I had the luxury of swanning about my bohemian house drenched in perfume in Kitakamakura.

 

 

 

 

3. It is bizarre. The strict environment  you probably imagined Japan might have created straight away after the realisation that a pandemic was coming -: stringent controls, social distancing, all those drastic countermeasures, HAS come into effect, yet only now. ‘Social distance’ has become a word that everyone suddenly knows. At the beginning of June. There is plastic everywhere, alcohol sanitiser. The streets, I would say, are 80-90% reduced in foot traffic compared to usual. Coming back to Ofuna station last night I was amazed by how empty it was. It felt like the aftermath of the earthquake again, most shops and restaurants already closed. This does make me feel less nervous in many ways, as at least the policy of ‘jishuku’,or self restraint, is obviously being taken up by the people, which should help to keep huge levels of new infections at bay, and hopefully it also means that more of the students’ parents are telecommuting from home and the population generally is being very cautious (what is weird is: both the UK and the US took measures like these earlier, with much more strictly enforced lockdowns, and yet the deaths are incomparable. Japan has about a fiftieth of the number of deaths as the UK, with twice the population). Yes, I am naturally skeptical about all ‘facts and figures’ from any official governmental organisation, and there are different theories about possible cover ups and so on as there seem to be in every country, but the mortality rate has not increased; in fact some sources say it has decreased because the almost mandatory usage of masks has even had an effect on other illnesses such as seasonal influenza. Why then, are the numbers so much worse in the UK? I think we will be pondering this for some time. As for America……..I don’t know where to start and don’t even know whether I should. The Devil is obviously trying to start a civil war in his own country. His response to every crisis, particularly the coronavirus, has been disastrous. He has policitized a virus. The last thing the country needed, with all the mortalities and the rising risk of new infections was riots on the streets, but when people are so incensed by injustice they will react. He has made no effort to calm the country but has deliberately gone out of his way to do precisely the opposite. To deliberately pour gasoline onto the fire. All he had to do was say that the death of George Floyd was wrong and unacceptable (because it was; there is no excuse for a person being treated like that; I thought of him yesterday when I felt I couldn’t breathe; what if you literally couldn’t) ; that he understood the pain of the people, that measures would be taken to prevent this from happening any more and then you would not have the horrific conflagrations that are currently taking place. And what is all of it going to do for the coronavirus?….I will leave it there, suffice it to say that the situation is desperately worrying. It also made me realise yesterday that, yes, while Japanese people do suppress things for the greater good – the harmony of the whole – and that can definitely have a detrimental effect on one’s mental health at times, in other ways, the wonderfully civilized nature of the society; the graciousness, means that you are never going to have human rottweilers barking and gnashing their teeth and refusing to wear masks because they want to be ‘free’; people are extremely cooperative generally here right now; everyone has their mask on, head down, and is trying to get through the situation. America seems to just want to burn itself to the ground. Or at least a certain individual wants it to. There are no words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The negatives: 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Despite all the extra precautions, the fact is, students are physically coming together again after three months stuck at home. This is guaranteed to bring more virus into the shared space. I felt worried for them. I felt worried for me.

 

 

 

2. The classroom I was in yesterday was in the biggest one in the entire company because I wanted the students to be able to talk to each other, but safely, so I was given the ‘VIP’ treatment with the biggest conference room upstairs. . We had all the windows open (plus air conditioning; not good environmentally but at this stage it can’t be helped). I was at an acceptable distance from the students, and they from each other.

 

3. The school I am in today, however,  has no windows. Teachers are cheek by jowl in the teachers’ room. It is an epidemiological disaster zone. I am going to go there as late as possible to avoid having to be overly doused in the shared air, but god knows what is going to happen in the classroom today. I then have to get a guaranteed-to-be crowded – even if less so than usual – train back, commuters returning to their houses from downtown Tokyo in the direction of Kamakura. I have decided to go back home up the hill by bike, because I just can’t then face a crowded bus (last night I took a taxi, but it won’t be financially viable every night), even if my knee situation may not be able to take pushing my bike  up the very steep part of hill after an exhausting day on a regular basis.

 

 

4. If I am honest with you, having read about how horrific some of the symptoms of this illness are, and that it is not ‘merely’ a respiratory disease but also a vascular disease that affects blood flow, vessels and veins, from head to toe, destroying internal organs, and having heard about how long it can take to recover from it  – a friend of mine who always works in Fujisawa has had it and is now recuperating at home, very slowly (his university allows him to teache his lessons online – on the train coming home last night, though slightly exhilarated by the sheer energy required on my part to get lessons going – I felt all revved up -this is always the good part of teaching for me, the mutually energizing currents –  I also thought to myself: I am guaranteed to get this virus now. Am I going to die? Unless I just refuse to go to work and give up my job. And have no money (there are no jobs available here). And then what?

 

 

 

 

So, despite my renewed sense of vigour, a feeling of coming back into the world again, a reconnection, I can’t deny that at the same time, in truth I also feel an apprehensive,  quite fatalistic sense of pure terror.

 

 

 

 

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