Thursday, January 30, 2014

Writing About Tokyo

Commemorating the 1964 Olympics at Jingu Bashi
I don't think I've ever mentioned on Tadaimatte before that I had written a novel - it's true! Yes, as you might have guessed, story writing is an outlet for me, and in 2008 while living in Osaka, I devoted quite a lot of effort to penning my first book. At the time, I was enamoured with Tokyo, and deeply interested in studying the evolution of popular culture in The Big Mikan. I went to the library in Hikarigaoka and thumbed through photos of the area from the 60s, I penned thoughtful poems about umbrellas and imagined the lives of the people bobbing through Hachiko Square, watched Rockabilly dancers in Yoyogi Park, traced the steps of Shiki and Beat and Neku from The World Ends With You, read vintage Tezuka manga, attended Comiket, visited all the shops Shigesato Itoi recommended in interviews about MOTHER, sat on the bridge at Harajuku, visited Tokyo 1964 Olympic sites, trolled Jimbocho bookstores in hopes of finding the original 1983 English translation of The Rose of Versailles, and generally fell in love with the way the city had been depicted in works of fiction. I used words like hokoten (short for hokousha tengoku) and expected people around me to actually know what they meant.

In reality, Tokyo - particularly the long trip I took alone in 2008 - was a fairly private experience, simply because I didn't know anyone else who got excited over things like Olympic plaques, croquette rolls and showa retro. I spent something like twelve days wandering the city mostly alone, with no plan, eating curry and rice balls and occasionally having only the vaguest idea of where I was going to spend the night (!). I visited Yokohama and Hakone during this memorable vacation, but spent most of it in Shibuya and Odaiba, having real "down time" in Tokyo for the first time.

One post couldn't possibly sum up how I feel about the capital...but I suppose that's why I wrote a book. I sent it around to just a couple of publishers, as it was such a specialized topic that I couldn't imagine a big company like Random House or Scholastic picking it up. I've sat on it long enough now, though, that I've begun to think that self-publishing an eBook is the way to go - as intimidating as that is! 
So, over the next weeks and months, I'll be continuing to work on this project with the help of my good friend Zippo, and maybe soon you'll be able to download the book right here!