I arrived in Sapporo just past 4:00 pm. I rode the train in from the airport with the curtains drawn, until I caught a glimpse of the view from a neighbor’s window.
A murky grey sky shadowing a grey earth. Trees bare from the winter and a rocky earth that had only recently been covered with snow. I had come in that grey hour between times when the snow had melted but the buds of spring had yet to bloom. There was nothing green, nothing of color, save for the box houses, painted commanding blues, reds, and oranges. They were such unlikely colors for Japanese homes, which preferred to blend into their natural surroundings. Hokkaido was different. This was the new frontier. It did not share the same history as the mainland. By the time it was cultivated, aesthetics had changed.
The streets of Sapporo are on a grid. It’s hard to get lost on a grid, but ironically, hard to find things. How many blocks down was it? On the right or the left? All intersections begin to appear in the same patterns, and before you know it, you’re just an ant tracing lines on the wall paper.
I couldn't find anything I had set out to find earlier. To keep from getting lost in the pattern of the city, I kept my eye on the clock tower, an impressively tall building with a giant analog watch. Odori park also slit the city in half at its latitude, so I used the divide as a reference as well.
The pattern, that definitive grid, didn't end on the streets and sidewalk, it carried up to the sky. High rise apartment with the same geometric patterns rose in all distanced, lining the walls to both sides. The grid became a cube, a pattern to all sides. Only the sky broke the pattern with muddy clumps of grey clouds and colors that faded into each other in indistinguishable way, the way emotions fade into each other over years.
Last night I found the Brown Books Café. Find is not the word to use, rather, it found me as I walked towards my hotel from Odori station. Perched atop the third floor of a renovated apartment complex that housed a bar and clothing store, walking into the café was like crawling into a dusty attic of hidden treasures. Most fo the books were a collection of discarded things from Europe. They were meant to adorn the colors walls, but not actually be read. A large window gazed over the busy city street. I gazed at the neon lights through my own private looking glass.
Back in the hotel, I returned to find my room in a somewhat different state that how I left it. Nothing had visibly changed, but the mood of the room had shifted. Perhaps it was that the sunlight had long since diminished. I saw ash trays on the coffee table that I hadn’t noticed before. The wires of the TV were in a tangled mess. I couldn't recall leaving the bathroom door open. It was as though something had happened in the room while I was gone. The scent of the air was different, external emotions had been implanted into the inanimate objects, which now seemed to tremble, and I was left wondering the source of this strain.
I showered with the door open. Curious sounds came from the room but when I stepped out of the bathroom dripping wet, they stopped. Although I turned off the air conditioner, the room was a few degrees hotter than when I left it. A peculiar fact considered that it was nightfall, and the temperature outside had plummeted. When I slept, I dreamed a typhoon was coming.
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