ArticlesDatacide 18

Ghosts & Handbags – A Short Travel Report from the Japanese Underworld

A Short Travel Report from the Japanese Underworld

Her toenails perfectly match the colour of her smartphone. She wears a handbag with a huge Gucci print on it. I look around, more office ladies with handbags, more handbags with prints on it. Secret codes? Secret messages?
Secret coincidences?

Chloé, Burberry, Armani, Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Chanel, Fendi, McCartney, Yamamoto, Kenzo, Versace, Benetton, Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, Dior, Gaultier, Bulgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada.

Perfectly styled, a touch of retro, Audrey Hepburn, motionless faces staring at small-sized screens. Anonymous army of business people, disciplined telephatic data warfare. Secret codes? Secret messages?
Secret coincidences?

Harajuku girls, Ginza ladies,
Kabukicho geishas.

Obey, consume, resist, reclaim! Stimulation, irritation, transformation, meditation, masturbation, preservation, united nation.

The Yamanote railway loop line train smoothly moves from one station to another, Shinagawa, Meguro, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Komagome, Nippori, Ueno, Shimbashi. A complete loop takes approximately 63 minutes, 667 trains, makes 13’255 circles per day, from 04:26 in the morning to 01:18 in the night.

It always rains after a visit at the Atomic Bomb museum in Nagasaki. Every rain drop is a tear drop, every tear drop is bomb drop, every bomb drop is a lollipop.
The erratic tapping on my 7-Eleven umbrella reminds me how individual every rain drop is, almost as if they were different types of living creatures.
I imagine the souls of 13’255 dead children falling down to earth as rain drops before travelling to Tokyo, but not by Shinkansen, not by JAL, not by elevator.
Are you a Siemens worker asks me the old sushi chef in broken English?
No, they’re travelling by Nippon Ghost Agency.

Ignorance is another name for logical dualism, white is the snow, black is the raven, white is light, black is night. In this emptiness there is no form, no perception, no name, no concepts, no knowledge, no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind, no sound, no smell, no taste and there is no touch.
No touch society, no touch anxiety, no touch priority, no touch morality.
Better care for Tamagotchi than seek real company.

The ghosts of burned children have arrived in Tokyo. They’re trapped inside the Yamanote line and doomed to haunt with their whining voices. Tiny little voices, I can hear them clearly, but obviously I’m the only one to hear them.
I look around, motionless faces are staring at small-sized screens.
Secret codes? Secret messages?
Secret coincidences?

Nobody pays attention to the ghost voices. I walk through the carriage but cannot find the source of these voices. They seem to appear in irregular gaps, sudden bursts of tiny voices, young children voices, but old at the same time. Sake? Shochu? Umeshu? No, I’m not drunk and I’m not dreamy. I can hear them clearly. Eat, drink, man, woman, work, sleep, look, talk, smile, obey, consume, resist, reclaim. Stimulation, irritation, transformation, meditation, masturbation, preservation, united nation.

I get off at Akihabara station, electric town, electric lights, electric screens, electric cars, electric games, electric trick, electric love. Blade Runner vs. Ghost in the Shell. Sony, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Sanyo, Akai, Aiwa, Nakamichi, Nikko, Onkyo, Hitachi, Canon. The more I see the less I hear.
A cacophony of computer sounds, plastic voices, gameboy beeps and pachinko noise in my head.

Aum doomsday cult, Kurosava samurai cult, Yakuza tattoo cult.
Violent onsen body modification, fish scale building construction, rush hour train meditation, rain drop ghost stimulation.

I escape to a nearby park to find some silence. A sea of cherry blossoms welcome me with their beautiful white and pink colours.
I imagine the souls of 13’255 dead children living inside these cherry blossoms, inside this national flower of Japan. Sakura, Datura, Mishima, Hiroshima.

I sit on the grass next to a cherry blossom tree. A young Japanese lady smiles at me. Secret code?
Secret message? Secret coincidence?


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