Back in the early part of the year I was contemplating an April return to Japan. Mostly because I thought I would like to see The Stone Roses again but also because April is the best time of year to go to Japan. I didn’t go for a handful of reasons but now I wish I had: I just found out there is a penis festival in April, which … seriously, who wouldn’t go to Japan just for that? (Well, and a side of ほうとう.)
I had been doing a lot of research into different things in Japan that might not have registered with me before – side trips and tours one could make to focus in on more niche things like Japan’s amazing pens, paper and denim obsession rather than just tourist traps, noodles and whatever.
In the end, I talked to my brother about going together, but it ended up being bad timing. I went on shorter trips – stuff like the PoPos and Czechia – will anyone ever get used to calling it that? And (little licks of – a term used just for London-based friend Karly!) London, which is never a delight, but sometimes necessary.
Mind clouded by Japan and penises now, I always forget that they have these strange fixations. Forgot checking out the VHS of In the Realm of the Senses from the public library as a teenager – probably not something they should have let a teenager have, but I don’t think the library staff was particularly familiar with the foreign language films. If I am not mistaken, the maniacal main character of the film cuts off the other main character’s penis; this is considerably more artful than, say, the made-for-tabloid-TV saga of John and Lorena Bobbitt.
How is it that I have never written about Prague before? Actually, this is not totally true. It got a brief mention in a recent post on 1999. Prague has not been a huge part of my life, but at the same time it has always been on the periphery. My Russian, eastern and central European studies years – all the literature, history and folk music. My brother and his friend making fun of my folk music purchases. The dear friends with Czech roots. Friendships and strange connections to this place. The memory of traveling to Prague for work in a change-infused period soon after I had left Iceland for Norway. The trip with colleagues to Prague for a photo shoot (and ending up, haphazardly, at a random restaurant we still refer to as “the old place” because we went in there first, left, wandered around aimlessly looking for somewhere else to eat, but ended up back in “the old place” – which was technically the first place. It was called U vejvodů, which I remember because I am that kind of person – the one who remembers the name of every place and street, even years later). The constant travel back to the Iceland for which I felt desperately homesick. The even more constant pull of Paris affairs. It’s no wonder that in those first dark months, Oslo felt more like hell than home. I was never even there.
How could all of that have been nine years ago already? How is it that it has taken nine years to find my way back to the old place?