When I arrived in Tokyo in January 2016 after five years living in the Japanese countryside (and the rest of my life living in the Californian countryside) I wondered when my eyes and brain would adjust to the buzzing detail of the surrounding metropolis. Factories, offices, houses, apartment buildings-- every view was a collage of overlapping angles and an almost pixelated madness. Apartment balconies ground the the air like the teeth on long metal keys, or perhaps cogs on linear gears. Every view was a crowded patchwork of glass and concrete and tar and vending machines.
The chances I've had to view Tokyo from above, I've numbly marveled at how the unending cityscape continues to spread like a lava flow out into the distant marsh lands. Volcanic formations of grey and brown and black, jutting out of the earth. Grainy texture of brick or pock-marked with windows and balconies. And like a lava flow, at first glance the city seems to have taken all life and all green in its advance. All flowers, all streams swallowed up in the forge of the man-made magma.
However, with a second glance it's not hard to see the lichens and moss, and even flowers that have once again sprouted up, here in the form some colorful laundry fluttering on the line, a pink futon slouching over the balcony to sun, or cream colored parasols drifting down the streets.
So life, and somehow nature too, breathes on in the hard lava bed of Tokyo.
Almost a year after moving here I suppose my eyes and my mind have adjusted to the endless angular detail of these surroundings. However I had thought that when that day came I would look across this landscape and think of it as "normal." That, I now realize, will never happen. Yes, my brain has adjusted, but now it too is filled with jutting rocks of endless buildings, and gears of brink, glass, and concrete.
Ink, watercolor on watercolor paper
Pen and watercolor illustrator from the redwood forests of California now exploring the cement forest of Tokyo. Forever inspired by Japan.