I went online to check our flight to Tokyo via Frankfurt to discover our flight had been cancelled. When I called the number given, my flight was changed to an earlier one via London. A shorter stopover meant the change was a blessing in disguise. We were three. I travel alone most of the time and I enjoy the time but it is a pleasure to share the experience.
After twelve hours we landed in Japan. Our tired eyes were not long widening to the wonders of Tokyo – trees, fabric, food, people, fashion, style and atmosphere suited our sensibility.
The north island is Hokaido. There are no nuclear power stations there. There was snow. Snow lightens my spirit every time.
Oki is a native of Hokaido. A songwriter, he makes and plays the Tonkari, a five stringed instrument played by the Ainu people. They are the pre agricultural people of Japan – hunters and gatherers by tradition. Oki spoke to me about the Jomung period and people. Their roots are the roots of most Japanese. According to archeological study the Jomung lived for 10000 years without war. There is no evidence of war in their remains. The music and art reflects this deep peace.
Oki and I played in the afternoon and then went to the Onsen. They are natural spring baths enjoyed all over Japan. Men and Women go to separate places and get naked. Then there is a wash with a cloth a vessel and soap. After a good scrub it is time to sit in the hot spring water and let the minerals and heat work their goodness on the body. Some bath houses are not naturally heated but they still do well. All water is vital. It conducts the electricity in our bodies and keeps us in motion.
For breakfast we had rice, miso, fish, pickled veg, tea, eggs, toast and coffee – perfect fuel for a day walking in the snow. We visited a temple then went to a thrift shop and bought a backpack, a hat and some beautiful small things!
The concert that night was shared between Oki and me. We treated it as an encounter and that is what it was. Music never ceases to amaze me. It reflects everything in life with a logic too great for mere words. I am glad of that.