16. Nudging Destiny

The next six months were some of the busiest of my life. In addition to trying to balance being a good husband and father with my regular work responsibilities, I had to take part in many planning sessions and hearings and the incumbent parties with city officials. Having worked at a public institution, the university, for many years, I knew how painfully inefficient, how exasperatingly slow to act, those in public office were conditioned to be. Just naming the goddamn project took over four meetings. And once the name had been proposed, it had to be given a public hearing to which every Tomohiro, Dick, and Hiroki could voice his opinion. Let me tell you, this is like catnip to all the idle screwballs out there. Once the name was officially chosen, there was the requisite photo op of the mayor and other municipal grandees standing next to a sign that had just been placed by the door of the official headquarters of the project. This was accompanied by a banquet where long-winded speeches and toasts followed more prolix addresses by officials of all stripes, including yours truly. I can say with some pride that mine, given in Hakata-ben, was one of the more well-received speeches and even ended up being broadcasted on local news programs, making me something of a celebrity.

Kana, it was enough to make me want to throw my hands up and quit, but, I was determined to see the project through to completion, determined to leave my mark on my adoptive hometown, a city that had already left an indelible mark on me.

The one bright spot in the early days of the Hakata Ishin Purojekuto (HIP), or The Hakata Restoration Project—for that was the name that took over a month to decide—was the large number of research junkets I was allowed to take at public expense. Every other week, it seems, I was traveling somewhere to see how different cities were faring on similar projects. Once every one or two months, then, I was in Tōkyō, ostensibly taking part in a symposium, but in reality I was searching for you.

I suppose that it would have been easier to just contact you either directly, or even indirectly, but that would have defeated the sense of kismet that you were apparently yearning for. Only serendipity would lend legitimacy, an empyrean sanction if you will, to our bodily desires. I’ve learned over time, however, that even fate needs to be nudged now and then. And so, I blogged ferociously about HIP and my travels and tried to hint at where I would be next, what specifically I would be doing there, hoping that if you were to see it, you might be motivated to drop by and say hello.

But you never did.

14. Reversible Destiny

During the spring break, I took my family to Tōkyō for a week, staying at the Reversible Destiny Lofts, a concept apartment building in Mitaka.[1]

While the main reason for going was to provide my sons with a unique living experience, something I have tried to do with them every year. We also took time each day doing the usual touristy things, such as visiting Tōkyō Disneyland, the Ueno Zoo, the newly renovated Tōkyō Station, and the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.[2]

No matter where I went, though, I found myself looking for you. In the rush-hour hordes at Shinjuku Station, among the weekend shoppers in the warrens of Shibuya and Harajuku, in the lines snaking outside of Disneyland attractions, at the art museums of Roppongi, among the midday bustle of Marunouchi and Midtown . . . I scoured the city for you.

The thing was, I had stopped trusting fate long ago. Never once had it reunited me with that first Japanese love of mine, Mié, even though the two of us lived for decades in what was, and still is, for all intents and purposes a relatively small town.[3]

Yet, no matter how hard I looked I could find neither hide nor hair of you anywhere. Each evening I would return to the Reversible Destiny Lofts, defeated and convinced that destiny could not be reversed no matter how determined I was to nudge it along.

[1] The Reversible Destiny Lofts, built by architects and artists Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins in 2005, is a concept apartment building featuring two- and three-room circular apartments, with a kitchen in the center and brightly painted cubical and spherical rooms on the circumference. The floors are uneven and bumpy, treacherously so. There are hooks and poles throughout allowing residents to “play” with the apartment by hanging hammocks or bars from them. While not the most comfortable of places to stay, it is certainly interesting.

[2] The Ghibli Museum in Mitaka is highly recommended for fans of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.

[3] For more on this, read A Woman’s Nails or A Woman’s Hand.