Kyoto, another one of those places

It’s raining again.

Kyoto is the cultural centre of Japan. In order to celebrate arriving in this significant historical location, the first meal I had (lunch) was KFC. I had a Zinger Burger, chips and an odd fruity soft drink.

I found an Osamu Tezuka shop, theatre and manga library in Kyoto station. Although the museum of his work is about a week away on my agenda, I decided to stop by here anyway. Osamu Tezuka was the guy who created Atom Boy, who we all know as Astro Boy in 1952. Let’s just say my cedit card took a bit of a pounding, and I need to send another box of stuff home.

While waiting to get to my accommodation (usually check-in time is the afternoon) I went to a Buddhist Temple near the station. There was a book store there that had some English books which looked interesting, but I restrained myself and didn’t buy any.

Learning Japanese isn’t that hard. The hard part is learning kanji, the Chinese characters for things. I’m starting to recognise a few like Entrance, Exit, Toilet, People, Minutes, Yen, Day, Month and so on.

On the way out of the book store, I noticed the door had the kanji for both entrance and exit written together. I had not seen it written this way before and to me it meant the door was both and entrance and exit at the same time. I paused on this for a minute to consider the existential rammifications of both entering and exiting the building in parallel, considering I had already gone through this portal once. Would I never be able to leave the building as I had already exited when I entered? Would the concept of outside cease to exist, and I’d be trapped, never able to pass through an entrance again. I was pondering the meaning of all of this when someone asked me to move so they themselves could pass through this hiation in the wall. As they seemed to be able to pass through, without blinking into proto-existence, I decided I would have to traverse this post-modern paradox.

I came to the conclusion that the symbols themselves were semiotic ideograms symbolic of a larger post-structuralist interpretation of what is “inside” and what is “outside.”

All that, just for a door.

Last night, a helpful Japanese bloke showed me this exhibition space for some Multimedia work. They were pretty good actually. Although it took a while to work out the interface, I did what I usually do and wait until someone goes first. I find that rather helpful.

The Internet Cafe I’m in at the moment, seems really cool. They have lounges for coffee drinkers, are playing some light techno, and have the Matrix playing on a widescreen TV, with Japanese sub-titles. I think I might hang here for a while today. I was going to go and see Ginkaku-ji and Kinkaku-ji, the two really good looking temples which also have Zen gardens with them (I’ve been told.)

After having read No Logo, am now about 1/2 way through Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. Although I was forced to read this in High School, I am reading it again now because it about someone looking for meaning when they are in a world full of phony people. The books I have chosen to read in Japan are all basedon the same theme of looking for meaning. Where thill will lead me, I don’t know. But it seems here there is a deep search for meaningbe people, but they keep looking in the wrong places. You can’t find meaning by looking under the sofa, or behind the bookshelf. It’s not that easy.

I saw a girl on the subway yesterday with just the word “Orgasm” on her t-shirt. I don’t think she knew what it meant. I didn’t get the chance to ask.

Perhaps it’s all just hidden from me, under the surface somewhere. But I don’t know where to scratch.

All the usual brands are here: HMV, Body Shop, Nike, etc. But I don’t think people buy something because of the brand it is. I think people just buy things because they are a Brand in and unto themselves. Look is very important here, surface level imagery, I keep finding stores that sell what I would call kipple, foreign junk. The sort of stuff you can find at Remo, or Gownings, etc. I’ve said this before I know. But the store I went into yesterday was packed with people buying useless shit. I mean, really, really cool looking useless shit. Although, the stuff I bought at the Tezuka shop also falls into that category, but that’s different because it was me, and I knew what I wanted, and it’s important.

I’ve found some of Philip K Dicks work here, and was supprised how much had been translated. But I still don’t think the reading of Science Fiction is that common in Japan. I did find a copy of Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, but will buy it later down the track, to save on lugging it around. The reason I like Science Fiction is becuase it is the projection forward of today’s ideas and attitudes into the future. Start Trek was created in the 60’s when there was a growing fear of an US and THEM world, and so it tried to break down those barriers by just having EVERYONE. Unfortunately the modern re-incarnation seems to have taken 80’s American culture into the future. Although Start Trek:Enterprise doesn’t seem too bad, there are way too many continuity errors between it and the other later series. But a lot of other work I’ve read tends to suck out your brain, mixes it around in a blender and pours it back in through your ear. You are being lied to. Everything is False.

The place I’m staying in, which although is the cheapest accommodation I’ve had anywhere (because I’m sharing a room with up to 4 other people I don’t know) is a firehazard waiting to happen. All those illegal backpacker hostels down in the Cross that burnt down in the 80’s and 90’s, well, that is what this place reminds me of. So, depending on the rain, I might not stay there too long. But it is really, really cheap.

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