I exited the women’s-only toilet on Japan’s fastest bullet train to be told by JR rail staff that I’d broken yet another golden rule. It’s great to be back in Japan, my Asian home!
Ive just spent the day in Kyoto with its beautiful temple gardens which stand in contrast to the chaos of city life in Tokyo but for me it is somehow cripplingly boring. But now it’s time to leave, and to be honest it couldn’t come soon enough for me. What a day.. caught between the hordes of tourists and all that tedious ancient temple life – I’m sorry but I can’t stand all the unbearable reverence and anyway, those Japanese gardens are simply far too tidy for me. The day just made me want to get measured-up for an extra-large kimono and run away. Which is funny because usually it’s the noise of Tokyo that kills me, but here it was the insane sterile silence and the over-orderliness of the people, excluding the odd clumsy British tourist of course.
Can some places simply be too perfect? But then, just when I’m thinking there really isn’t anything here for me here I read that Kyoto is in fact the veggie capital of Japan with an amazing total of 47 vegan restaurants! Now we are talking.. So I make quick notes of the best vegan lunch option and set out to find the place.
But in my excitement I forget the maze of winding streets and narrow lanes that Japan is and I am soon lost again. Getting directions this way and then that .. I find myself rediscovering that ‘love and hate’ feeling I have with Japan. I remember that (at least for me) to purposely seek something out here isn’t the way to go. I remember I must go with the flow and accept whatever comes my way.
My veggie dream dashed I skip lunch altogether and decide to get the bullet train to Hiroshima – I see a place selling beer and order the only thing on the menu that is vegetarian… Chips! Yes, Sean san is back in style… drinking beer and eating chips – again.
After years of making films in conflict zones around world today I go to the home of the one which first got me interested in politics, Belfast.
I guess it was ‘The Troubles’ which got me interested in international conflicts; I remember persuading Channel 4 to let me go and meet a commander from the IRA with a view to making a film – that was in the good old days when such things were persuadable. Unfortunately I missed the flight due to the stupid Easy Jet check-in rules and maybe, possibly, the fact that I was late for the flight.
But finally, a few years later, I’m on my way to Belfast (unless I miss this flight) to show my Yemen film ‘The Reluctant Revolutionary ‘- I am curious to see how the audience relates to another conflict zone like Yemen, and to see if it rekindles memories of their own bitter war, one which it seems hasn’t completely gone away and which remains visible through so many aspects of Northern Irish society all these years later.
I’m also curious to taste the Northern Irish Guinness – I wonder playfully to myself, ‘Does it have a British taste or an Irish one’, and could the answer be the real barometer of the peace process?
The ‘Reluctant Revolutionary’ won the ‘Audience Award‘ at this years EBS International Documentary Festival in Seoul. This award is awarded to the documentary among the nominees in the EIDF 2012 main competition that receives the highest scores over the online voting system and the audience (TV, Theater) response rating.