Cherry Blossom Hill

In David Pascoe’s book, “Airspaces” – the cover on which appeared on my second post – he says that “Narita was beautiful enough to have been regarded by European travellers as the Barbizon of Japan; visitors would journey from throughout the country to witness the blossoming of the 10,000 cherry trees that the Emperor owned there.” Hayashi told us that, after visiting Munich airport and seeing the way that the authorities there had integrated viewing areas into the perimeter of the airport, he and other officials from the local government decided to develop something similar at Narita. The result is now Cherry Blossom Hill, a landscaped area with benches, toilets, a cinder circle and steps leading down to the trees that give the hill its name.

The peculiar parallels between what the local families, fixed-wheel cyclists, courting couples and those more recognisable as plane-spotters were engaging in and what Rupert and I were doing, have haunted us since Hayashi first took us there four days ago. We went back there today in the sweltering heat with my open sores in full view below my shorts. Although the sky was spotted with clouds, there was something arresting about the light and Rupert shot some incredible footage of the space itself and those who had chosen to inhabit it. One sequence, especially, looks quite stunning. A family with a small child held in his father’s arms, its mother shading herself under a parasol and the child pointing and patting his father’s back for emphasis. The heat and tiredness had sapped my energy but luckily a bottle of Pocari Sweat had restored me enough to happen by chance to be recording some acoustic evidence of this intimate scene at the same time Rupert was filming it.

As I write this, the night sky outside our anti-control tower is flashing with lightning from behind the clouds; the spinning fan in our room is making the kind of looping ‘creaking sign’ noise that Morricone would drop into a shot where Lee Van Cleef’s eyes are narrowing under his black Stetson; the cicadas are keeping up their rhythms; and the chickens are clucking notice of how unsettled they are just below us. The runway lights glow red and yellow and green and the planes are still landing. Fat drops of rain have just begun to fall.

We had been debating about whether to set the mics and cameras up and decided against it. Now the rain is getting heavier. With the lightning reflecting off the farm’s buildings, and thunder rumbling in a way that really does evoke the sublime, we are now rushing to set the equipment up. Perhaps the seasons are re-asserting a kind of coherence.


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