Looking and not Finding…
I need to find someone interesting enough to keep me here and keep an audience engaged in this film. I’ve decided to film my search for the story as I feel I keep missing things… the Japan I’m discovering with new fresh eyes is not being filmed. I like to show this through my character but I haven’t found him or her yet. I need to know what I think and feel about this place first, which takes time. What is it I want to say about Japan?
I saw the Bukowski documentary a couple of nights ago in Tokyo of all places. I was feeling down and wanting to escape Japan and the thought of making this film. Japan sometimes feels so alien to me, which is funny seeing that it wasn’t so long ago that we foreigners were known as the ‘aliens’ here.
I was ready to throw in the towel, the challenge of starting a new film always seems like a mountain too big to climb. The truth is, it is actually like climbing two huge mountains one after the other.
Bukowski moved me, inspired me, in this documentary we feel like we meet him for the first time. He just soldiered on, he made me think I should. I’ve been thinking of taking up karate instead of drinking so much over here. The idea appeals, but each time I get close to walking through the door of the ‘spirit gym’ I find myself wandering away again.
It is hard to get inspired here. Sometimes I get the feeling, the urge… I know I want to make a film about freedom. Modern Japan reminds so much of life in Saddam’s Iraq. The safety I felt there I feel here, no one will touch me, nothing will happen to me. This is why I like Japan but also why I hate it.
I like seeing infants unaccompanied on the subway heading to school safely. This is how it should be, isn’t it?
Japan makes me re-evaluate the ‘freedom’ we have in the west. Occasionally I look over my shoulder when I hear a bang or crash, when a car pulls up close I get nervous. Living so long in lawless Iraq has left its scars and they are hard to erase. So I appreciate this safety now. Even if it means that its citizens often appear like wind-up dolls or robots, no one challenges, no questions … they just do. Why? Forget the word why? They just do. But I can’t forget why? It is my favourite word, and I’m beginning to miss it here.
Then it snows. I’m trying to make my way for a vegetarian Indian lunch, slipping and sliding on icy pavements. I come across teams of workers chiseling ice on hands and knees with hammers and chisels. It seemed crazy, “What are they doing??” I scream… robots… this place is crazy. I watched the meticulous operation, in modern Japan it looked very primitive.
Where this 1st world nation meets its 3rd world mentality.
I stand watching a man chipping away at one tiny piece of ice that now stands alone. It has no chance of survival. But it won’t disappear easy. I leave, eat my lunch and pass the same slippery pavement that is now dry and safe to walk on. It feels great to not slip and slide. It is now safe.
Suddenly Japan makes sense again, I’d got it wrong. I love this place. It is great. It makes sense.
My phone rings it is the instructor from the ‘spirit gym’. He says he is expecting me tomorrow. Now I know I must step through the sliding Japanese doors I’ve been avoiding. No way back.