Portholes Galore

And now, for the fifth segment of things that make you stop, stare, and get the creativity waterwheel churning.

In the midst of preparing for departure from Japan and beginning to suffer nasty packing nightmares, I’ve been doing precious little writing and nigh on no appreciating inspiring surroundings of late.  At least not that I can currently recall.  And I’ve been to some rather exceptional places recently, as well.  Nagasaki was wonderful, an amazing town – I’m sure once I reflect on it at a slightly less hectic moment I’ll recall exactly what made me stop and stare – there was more than one thing, I think.  Yesterday the grand majority of the Uji assistant English teacher cohort cruised the calm waters of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, a little neighbour to Kyoto.  Though the rush to make it to the harbour and onto the paddle steamer on time with unexpected traffic and no-shows to contend with offered a little welcome (in hindsight) adrenaline rush, and the cruise was a lovely, relaxing experience, one of our final outings together, my mind was on that group aspect of it.  It is a good thing, I suppose, to occasionally be so totally occupied by something that isn’t my own fiction.   I think I was taking everything in –  the day and the boat and lake – as a whole, as opposed to as many small associated aspects, as I generally do.  I think.  I’m not sure if that makes sense in writing.  But I get me.  Usually.

In any case, I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d be blogging about today, and had just about decided it was to be no more than an excuse saying I’ve had no time or will to be inspired.  But I went to dinner at a yakitori place with Mum and Ueda-sensei tonight.  We climbed a set of almost hidden stairs onto someone’s roof and into a tiny restaurant that gave the impression of being an attic-turned-trendy-Japanese-lounge.  And, being such a place, common windows would not make do.  Set in the walls of this attic restaurant were …


Portholes.  In a restaurant.  Not on a boat.  A restaurant.  A restaurant nowhere near sea nor lake no less, and the river’s hardly compensation.

Portholes in a restaurant.  Never seen it before – let me know if you have.  But it just worked.  Immediately I thought, “why don’t we have portholes at home?”  Just so unexpected, and gave the place a certain feeling.  Not quite mysterious, as deep ocean scenes viewed through portholes might generally offer, but an odd sensation.  Something slightly skewed from the norm.  Slightly abnormal.  Like it wasn’t quite right and all those associated with the restaurant and its portholes were only a touch aware of its unusual idiosyncrasy.  Only a touch aware, and not caring in the least for others’ nonplussed judgement.  Different, but without waving your arms around trying madly to focus all attention on yourself and what makes you different.  For me, that felt refreshing.  I love it when things and places and people that seem almost totally average have one feature – one you may not have noticed from the start but once you do it’s lit by a huge white spotlight – that makes them just that bit splendiferous, eye-catching and memorable.  Worth remembering.

Shall certainly remember these somewhat out of place portholes, I’m sure they’ll be useful at one point.  I’ll remember the food too, twas uber tasty.  Deep fried crumbed Camembert.  Enough, I’m sure, has been said.


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