Japan: Arrival in Yokohama

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The Port of Yokohama is located downtown. In January, the sky is a crisp blue backdrop to the city skyline. Imagine emerging through an organic wooden construction all angles. The year is 2150 and we’ve finally accepted responsibility for the environment. The building is futuristic but more conspicuously there is a connection to the natural earth. It provides a sense of relief alighting from the Pacific after a long and nauseating, trip from the West. The cold air that greets you is fresh and friendly: quite different from the swirling cold squalls found out at sea that whispers of iceberg shipwrecks and lost souls.

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The Port of Yokohama represents how easy arrival into another culture can be. This simplicity is something that you only can come to fully realise in retrospect. Stand in an airport in Myanmar for six sweltering hours and watch a thick cloud of pollution ground all the planes and then you will realise the ease and elegance of terminus in Japan. By juxtaposition, Yokohama materializes as a serene premonition of the future, even though the impression lies in memory. Dreamlike Yokohama runs automatic and systematic.

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Unreal City. There are no crowds of pushy people, or pigeons chasing scraps, there is no graffiti or glued posters flapping under bridges. Quiet. You can hear the wind in the cherry blossoms just beginning to bud. Dreamlike I float silently through this city, my path unobstructed. I feel myself dragged scientifically onto an impeccable subway system and out, out, through the perpetual metropolis to the heart of the country itself: to Tokyo. There is no green between the twin cities, the concrete and glass continue for miles without relief.

But at the Port, standing at the edge of it all, this great mass of humanity is invisible and mute. This edge of the city stands sentinel against the wilds of the greatest of oceans, a quiet and resilient guardian. Flat parks line the waterfront and on Sundays young women walk with tiny dogs or boyfriends in tow along the promenade. It is peaceful and there is no yelling. There are low-slung water sculptures that flow, continuously calm. An old mill is converted into an ice-skating rink where bodies circulate by clockwork. Nothing leaks fumes into the clean air and there is no garishness to draw your eye away from the general scene. It is sterile here. Nothing in particular stands out or offends the senses.

A blank page before the ink is dipped; a freshly raked sand garden in the morning; the silence before the music starts. The Port of Yokohama is a caesura to be celebrated.

 

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