This photo, capturing a characteristic wrinkled Oxford and contrived nonchalance, was taken one month ago in Hong Kong. I took a flight back home the next morning, and read the following quote on the plane. I've been pondering it since.
"But he was also to be my first lesson in the strange phenomenon that besets all of us who travel to strange places and found our own assumptions and lessons proven not just wrong, but opposite. It is very easy to be intellectually brave in such locations, where the academy, one’s peers, and the entirety of Western history and religion feel not only irrelevant but misguided. But unlearning things is much more difficult than learning them, and even the most courageous of minds will find itself tempted to retreat back into the known at the first opportunity."
-Hanya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees
We rented a car in Okinawa, my first time driving internationally (rather, on the opposite side of the road I'm accustomed to)—which I did without harming myself or others! We navigated through sudden tollways, turned up the wrong side of roundabouts to the mild panic of hotel concierge, ascended cliffs to greet Manzamo, the ancient, calcified proboscidean. We ate everything purple and brown and the emerald of sea grapes, and drank in everything touched by the bite of bitter melon. At night we'd swim.
After three days, we arrived in Hong Kong by air, took the MTR, trekked through forked streets and winding, dark stairways. I learned that each block in Kowloon City emits its own unique scent—jasmine, the next street sesame, then herbal, anise, and all uniformly fecal, like wilting flowers—as if demarcating spaces for a sightless, but nasally-dexterous society. Later, we got to the ferry after threading in and out of pockets of bystanders momentarily caught by the soundscapes cast of white buskers financing their Asian expeditions. From the water, the skyline gleamed in the sheen of its permanent semi-darkness. Smaller boats drifted past us.
The last sixteen days seems to have been an exercise in measuring our capacity for the best foods of the region, testing our receptiveness to the wide, technicolor spectrum of beauty, of people, landscape, and sound. Grateful grateful grateful for everyone I've met along the way, and for Gamakich most of all. Thank. You.
Today we're heading to Okinawa from Nagasaki. I'm a quarter Okinawan, and the rest of my (known) lineage can be traced to Kumamoto, other places in Kyushu, and Yamaguchi. This flight to Okinawa will be the last leg of my nomadic Motherland tour: my first time out of Tokyo, to Kyushu, and to the land of sweet potatoes and centenarians.
These pictures were taken at some of my favorite spots in Miyajima, Fukuoka & Nagasaki.
Days 5-8: Kawaguchiko ⇒ Kyoto ⇒ Osaka.
Walk walk walk; stare out of a train window, fix your eyes on its shifting horizon; smell the musk of incense and ancient trees; eat eat eat, and watch V eat more; touch your roots; accept your alterity; feel the sun rise on your face; open your heart.
the first four days
iiiiiii wish you were heeere, iiiiiiiiiiii weeeshh you whuuur