Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Anne Townsend

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Anne Townsend Latest

Tokyo, Hello 東京

TYLH (4)He wanted to catapult himself clear of himself, someplace far away where he ‘had no story’. People don’t pick up and move halfway around the world for the adventure, not that only. They do so in order to un-story themselves. But where to go? (Eric Weiner)

Japan holds the key to Perfection. Of this I have no doubt. Once she gets off the plane at Narita International Airport with her baby-pink Gucci suitcase, Anne will be different. She will  be improved, and she will be a lot thinner. The suitcase will have no space for her baggage, and this will be the Gateway to Happiness.

She will be met at the airport by a smiling delegation of English-speaking Japanese, (one of them a tall, low-key filmmaker, soon to be Anne’s Very Close Friend), and escorted to a spacious, light-filled loft apartment on the fourth floor of an art deco block. The high-ceilinged room will be quiet, the slatted blinds half-drawn to keep out the morning light. It is always 10:30 am in my Tokyo loft and the season is Spring. I know this because my rectangular window with the wooden frame overlooks a broad sidewalk lined with cherry blossom trees. Bicycles and pedestrians in black suits fill the view. There’s a purposeful scurrying but it’s friendly and intimate. As the powdery blossoms fall onto the cyclists, they flick back their glossy black hair and giggle.

Anne turns into a thoughtful, considerate citizen in her New World. She glides around her airy room in a silk kimono, sipping camomile tea and she rarely eats heavy meals. Porcelain bowls filled with miso soup, tofu and spring onion are placed on low lying wooden tables and chopsticks replace the clutter of the knife and fork. She gets by mainly on liquids (green tea, Evian water and broth) with occasional wafer thin slices of apple, sushi with pickled vegetables and shavings of ginger. As a treat, she nibbles squishy rice cakes filled with red bean paste.

Calm space, stable mind, soft voice, shimmering morning hours. Life in Japan will consist only of this. Anne will be elegant, dignified and at peace. She will absorb the best of Zen, and the most noble qualities of good citizenship. She will be sociable as Japan will offer better opportunities for making friends than anywhere else. Graceful visitors will plop down on salmon pink floor cushions, bearing gifts of candies and fresh ivory roses wrapped in tissue paper. Hailing from all over the planet, they will embody the flavour of global nuances. Anne’s African Roots & Global Vision will lure them to her Tokyo Loft for Good Times.

Japanese Days will be devoid of the vulgarities of sickness and death. Poverty, middle age blubber and sadness will waft out the large window and dissolve like mist in the spring air. Perfection will move in with Anne the Global Person.

It’s not going to happen.

What a relief.

Happy New Year to Reality.

(Photo Credit Anne Townsend)