Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Resourceful Beachcombing in Tokyo, Homeless Halloween style

Most of the materials for our enchanted edible garden have already made their own way to Asaba Art Square - plant cuttings, timber that fell of a truck, mountain mulch and more.
To gather the finishing touches, pebbles and driftwood, we set of for a peaceful beachcombing picnic on the Miura peninsula.
The days are now cool, and the beaches deserted.

We emerged though the tunnel of bamboo to the beach, to discover a tiny little dwelling.
Look what was coming from the bit of poly-pipe sticking out of the roof:

And look, a splendid balcony garden. After its Autumn Harvest, I suppose.

It was driftwood-powered, flotsam-harvested waterfront lifestyle living.

At the front door was a tinkling bead curtain. The doorpost was dignified by a ticking clock, richly decorated with aluminium and plastic scrolls. Possibly put in place to assist in catching the rush-hour train to work. But probably not.

As I'm living a vagabond life myself these days, I'm able to look with complete admiration when seeing someone else do a good job of it.
So who made up this household?

For starters, a chicken. Just to set the tone.

One guard-cat.

One fishercat.

One hulking friendly wildcat

And look who's sitting in MY bucket - a stowaway cat.

This is Yoshiko-san, she is my friend, and she's a ghostwriter. She is amused.

I'm still waiting for a householder to appear, and I'm getting pretty interested by now, because with cats like this, the owner would be not your average guy.

These cats were stars.
They were enthusiastic risk-takers, leaping deftly from one stack of rickety boxes to another.

Note the bead curtain

They were socially graceful, making my acquaintance immediately, and entertaining me with a good play fight. Claws were politely retracted, as is proper when beating up a new friend. And it goes without saying, they were dainty in matters of personal hygiene.

They were also generous, giving their mates a lick in the hard-to-wash spots.

They were chivalrous, taking turns at mealtimes.

So engaging, they were, that I almost missed the drama behind me.

Five men in crispy shirts. Official men. Dangling ID's were in full swing.
It wasn't looking good for the three bears, or whoever lived here.

I've never been able to resist a chance for some caped crusading when I think I'm seeing bullies in action. Up I strode from the waves, botticelli's blonde in in combat mode.

Reaching the party I bowed politely, wondering what I was going to say. Four astonished men bowed back.

In English I'm only funny by accident. But in Japanese I have to make a few words go a long way,
so it comes out witty.

"O-hikkoshi (moving day?) desu ka"? I enquired politely
It came out as a gloriously multi-layered rendition of the neigbourhood sing-song greeting "Having a little Outing are we?" and it got a full-spectrum response: the sidewards stare that says 'who's this dork', to the smile of fellows very interested in whats going to happen next.

We had a brief, though one way conversation on world-class Japanese resourcefulness. We discussed (again, one way) how this example of domestic irrepressability might be giving hope to the hope to harried teens and salarymen of Tokyo. Life-saving hope.

I left them to it.

It was the chicken though who eventually showed four men out.

The remaining man was the householder.
"I've been here for 10 years now" he told me. "Sometimes the local government get complaints, so they have to come and check up. Mothers worry I might hurt their children".

I told him that if the daffy mothers took a proper look at the clues, the well-adjusted cats and little garden attempts, they'd work out for themselves if there was danger here or not.

"You are the only one who says so".
But the officials seemed to get along with him just fine.

He showed me how the cats go all floppy and purry when they hear the rhythm of a heartbeat, like being with their mum again.

People who suddenly have to give up their cats leave them in his care, he said. They give him a bit of money too.

Its an old fishing village. Plenty to feed the furry family, plenty of tumbledown sheds to keep the stove burning, and plenty of ways to use your ingenuity when you wake up each morning. To the darn rooster.

We go though life cowering at things that would never hurt us, while fearlessly committing mayhem on a daily basis.
Imagine if I could re-arrange where my fears went, like re-arranging furniture. "Creating a family - no problem." "Toast and marmalade - terrifying'
I could do amazing things. Till I was very, very old, very loved.

Get scared of the right things, is my message to myself this Halloween.

What scary things are you staring down these days? People doing scary things are my favourite kind of people. Tell me your scary story, and I will barrack for you.


Kev said...

Dear Cecilia,
I love this. Very moving and inspiring. I'm sure this is going to be one of those stories that remains in my mind's landscape for a long time. You've clarified and reaffirmed in me the belief that we can all do amazing things if we learn to stop cowering from life.
Sincere thanks,

Cecilia Macaulay (Tess) said...

Thank-you kev!
Unfortunatly, I haven't done even one scary thing today. But its still daylight, there is time yet...

Louise said...

hi cecilia, what a beautiful story. i love the kitties, the rooster, the garden, the resourcefulness, and the man who understands the purr of a stray.

i'm bookmarking this story to read when i need illumination and courage.