Japan, Tokyo, 1977. I walk crowded streets and beautiful gardens where care is taken for spaces as well as things that grow. I struggle — try to speak Japanese language but usually mispronounce “Key-Ray-Ee-Des” (It is beautiful) as “Key-Rah-Ee-Des” (It is dirty). I tip-toe through minefields of culture steeped in subtlety; lose huge chunks of flesh and karma with my thunderous, blunderous New York strides.
Shin-Ju-Ku: lights dim Times Square into grandmother’s fruit cellar. Row on countless row of Japanese stare hypnotized at small vertical pin-ball game called Pah-Chinn-Koe. This bright hustle bustle hassle hides deeper subtlety, deeper calm, inside, beneath, where foreign eyes can peer not.
I enter Tokyo subway. Then — SHE enters — total stranger, totally beautiful, black hair, endless eyes. I, of course, having learned small little in my many minefield walks, look everywhere but at her. Better, SHE looks everywhere but at me. We ride, totally not looking at each other. SHE stands in middle — nowhere to hold on to — unprotected, beautiful, vulnerable.
Suddenly, train lurches. Simultaneously: SHE shoots hand out to only spot I can possibly reach while I shoot hand out to only spot she can reach. Our hands clasp strongly for instant and I save her from fall. Slowly, we release.
Next stop, she suddenly rushes out. But — just before the doors bang shut, she turns — looks straight into my eyes. “Kohn-bahn-wah” she says (“Good Evening”) thus, Japanese beauty touches beyond body into very soul of clumsy Westerner.