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Man-Yi and my Stroll around the Block / 18 September 2013

Photograph looking down into a small walled balcony/roof garden. Left and right are trees and plants, against the far wall are two tables with a golden Buddha, and two other statuettes of spiritual entities. They share the space with lines of washing. 

Cleanliness, godliness, and order.

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Sky Tree's viewing platform cannot compete with Man-Yi, the typhoon buffeting and flooding Japan with heavy rain. Wild gusts of wind, up to 130 kph, have visible impact on trees and plants and the assorted container gardens so prolific in local streets and balconies. The forecast predicts around 30 cms of rain, with the possibility of power outages and some structural damage as the eye of the storm passes close to Tokyo.
In southern Japan there are warnings of landslides.  Man-Yi's typhoon status reduces to tropical storm as it expends crazy energy on this patient land.
Outside bicycles and plant containers are being tossed about, rainwater accumulates and the streets are covered in sodden, scattered leaves, small branches of greenery, soil and good-luck images from battered shrines and container gardens.

Being in considerable pain (after yesterday's wheelchair drama), I'm not complaining about the enforced rest the weather imposes on me, but by late afternoon the storm has passed and I'm quite keen to get into some fresh air. Dosed up with painkiller, I venture out.

Almost everywhere is tidy; as if Japan somehow defies the natural evolution of order into chaos. The neat pot-garden of the tiny restaurant on the corner makes earlier observations seem like an hallucination. The row of good-luck charms has been returned to its position along the top of the A-board. Even the thick layer of sodden leaves has been reduced to a few scattered 'wings' of Ginkgo.

The air is almost fresh, the sky has that weird orange glow and the greenery looks incredibly vibrant; surviving blossom, bulbs and flowers gleam.

This is just a stroll around the block, so I concentrate on what is actually here in this quiet corner of Tokyo, a megacity at least 50% larger than New York. I roll on wide pavements, but the roads leading off are narrow and although they have white lines marking off walkways for pedestrians, in practice cars, bicycles and people share the space with patience and courtesy. People have precedence.
The graphics showing information about street essentials such as walking and cycling divisions, are all attractively proportioned non gender-specific representations of people/families. I wish someone would redesign the wheelchair/access logo.

The container gardens squeezed along house walls or around urban trees, are all drenched, but in good order. Packed between assorted plastic flowerpots I see two very wet looking wooden hutches and manage a glimpse of a small rough-haired guinea-pig.

'Around the block' takes me past several small park areas alive with the fizz of cicadas, the silent flits of some of Japan's 200 different species of dragonfly and other less friendly life-forms. 
In spite of reasonable precautions, I get bitten. Bites from the small black flies (similar to US 'no-see-ums') are incredibly itchy and by the time I roll indoors one part of inevitably exposed flesh has begun to swell. With four bites, possibly from two differing creatures,  my chair-driving hand soon resembles a small, lop-sided balloon. Painful and spongey, this has annoying repercussions on my ability to move around. The bites on my legs itch badly and my back pain is intrusive, being mentally and physically exhausting.

Today must be the low point of my Japan Odyssey.


I have always enjoyed weather:
the stillness of snow, exhilaration
of storm, contentment of sun
and wild dance of wind.
My body might complain about
falls in temperature; soaking wet
cushions can make storms yucky; driving
wind can bowl my wheels away.
And yet the blissful peace
of summer sun inevitably grows
boring when repeated
season on season. Still, I need
my weather thrills to be
swift and varied; offering,
teasing, yet never straying
too far, too long
from golden warm,
to keep me
from excess
pain.