found in translation

my favourite film of all time is lost in translation, sofia coppola’s alternative rock-infused slow burn starring bill murray, scarlett johannson and the neon streets of tokyo.


lost in translation released in august 2003, a pivotal summer of my life for many reasons, and i guess it soaked in pretty deeply, as i must’ve seen it at least three times in the cinema alone. and twice a year since, always accompanied by a whole bottle of wine.

the following summer, 2004, i went to china for the first time (another pivotal life moment). with hot humid wind in my hair as a late-night taxi hurtled through nanjing traffic, and kevin shields and jesus and mary chain’s dizzying guitars a running soundtrack in my head. the smear of neon characters across a half-rolled-down window. the scent of cooking oil and chilli, and garbage, in the air. i was once and for all hooked.


the feeling of being so totally removed from yourself that suddenly everything makes sense, and you can never go back from that.

until a month ago, i’d never been to japan. i guess i was saving it up as, genuinely, one of those destinations that i might never return from. i think i found japan less romantic and more approachable than i’d been expecting. it’s the type of place that makes an easy in to asia: you still get the smear of neon characters across your window, but the scent of garbage in the air is lessened (nay, non-existent). after so many years in china, the japanese seemed accommodating to a westerner and rarely was there a linguistic struggle, even when the language barrier was there. people weren’t surprised to see me – a novelty i’ve come to expect in other parts of east asia.


i loved japan, though, as much as i expected to. the zaniness of it, the organised chaos, the fashion and, oh god, the food. a bowl of ramen in the shadow of himeji castle, and a +10 sake and coal-grilled meat in a smoky izakaya are something every traveller should experience once in a lifetime.

i don’t want to leave.

then don’t. stay here with me. we’ll start a jazz band.

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