In my dream we’re (big surprise) back in Japan, and we’ve rented a car this time so we’re driving around Aomori and I’m getting so excited to see 紅葉 (autumn leaves).
Often, when a trip I’ve been looking forward to a little too much approaches, I have dream(s) about it. So predictably when our short jaunt back to Japan in the fall rolled around, of course I had a dream about Aomori.
See, there’s this thing I have for Aomori. I’ve been fixated on it for so long and yet had never managed to get there, so when I finally decided to make the trip, my subconscious went crazy.
But why Aomori? The first time I took a trip to Japan, it was just before fall, and so of course the JR ads everywhere were touting various autumn color spots to visit. And prominently featured that year was a billboard of an insanely beautiful view of beech leaves reflected off a tiny pond in the middle of Aomori, the northernmost prefecture of Honshu. In the bottom corner of the billboard were the words 青森、いいな, which roughly translates to “Aomori…how nice.” I LOVED that billboard. I couldn’t get enough of the tagline and the genius of simply letting the beauty of this place speak for itself. It was both infinitely amusing and impressive. From the moment I saw that billboard, I knew I wanted to visit Aomori.
Somehow I didn’t end up making it there until last fall. It was partly because Aomori is quite rural and it’s hard to get around without a car, and I didn’t have my Japanese driver’s license. And maybe it was partly because I sort of liked it living as a kind of dream for me. But after 5 years of wanting to visit Aomori, we finally did, and I am so glad we made it. Wandering the quiet old growth beech forests was beyond amazing for a forest lover like myself. And, as evidenced above, I got to visit the very pond featured in the billboard I saw while waiting for a train in Tokyo that first trip. It was quite the hilarious adventure which I won’t recount here, but visiting the spot that started my Aomori dream and snapping the same picture featured in that billboard was about more than just having a photo in my catalog. It captures the very essence of what motivates me to work on this blog. I had a vision, held in my mind so strongly it invaded my dreams, and I’ve managed to meld dream and reality into memory, and these photos are the proof.
I had a crazy dream about jumping through these portals into other worlds, doors perched on hillsides that lead to parallel universes of sorts. As you’re jumping through a portal you have to sort of turn yourself in mid air to actually cross over, if you just jump straight through it doesn’t work. You get a running start, throw yourself through these doorways, turn a little bit left or right, and then there’s this flash of color, red or blue or yellow, and you’re in a new world which is almost the same as the one you came from, but not quite, and they’re numbered, and we’re going backwards, approaching 1.
A lesson in patience: it took me over 5 years for the seed of this dream to sprout, but the experience of wandering chilly hillsides looking for hidden portals made it so worth it.
I had a dream that I was shopping for candy in a sort of warehouse version of Cost Plus World Market. There’s candy everywhere and I’m loading up for some reason.
Of course there aren’t any Cost Plus stores in Japan, so I searched for a long time before finding this Showa-style candy store which I much preferred,even if it meant trekking out to one of my least favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo.
In this dream:
I’m riding a skateboard to Angkor Wat but I stop to say hi to people along the way.
He disappears somewhere and I can’t find him anywhere.
Angkor Wat is one of those places that, despite the constant crowds, has an air of real magic.
And it’s even better if you can have a quiet corner to yourself. A skateboard would be a pathetically inefficient mode of transportation though.
I’m picking flowers from trees and collecting petals to make flowers.
There’s always been something about the silky, thin blossom petals that makes me want to gather up armfuls of fallen petals, cram my pockets full, and carry them home with me.
Our next door neighbors growing up had two cherry trees in their front yard and one year we did just that; scooped them up from the front walk and stuffed the confetti-like petals into a bag. Of course within hours they were a sad, wilted mess, no longer the perfect silk bits they were strewn in drifts on the ground. The ephemerality, of course, being part of the magic, we accepted that our attempts were futile, and never tried to save them again. Still, every once in a while I can’t help but pick up a blossom that’s managed to fall still-whole and perfect and carry it around with me for a bit.
I’m admiring a group of bonsai that have been grown with magic, so of course they have their own magic as a result.
I wonder how I can learn to grow them.
They’re so beautiful, but I’m daunted by the thought.
Shouldn’t I stick to orchids?
I found the magical trees of my dream way out on the east side of Tokyo. Shunkaen had sat on my list of places to visit, and when I finally made the trek out to see it, it certainly did not disappoint. Nestled in an unassuming residential neighborhood, far from a train station, I discovered a tiny wonderland filled with priceless, ancient works of living art. Thousand year old trees that took your breath away, rows and rows of perfectly imperfect beings beyond comprehension. What a treat to watch the workers carefully clipping away, to marvel at the largest koi I’ve ever seen, to share a humble handmade lunch with the staff.
We wound our way through the stands of trees, through empty tatami rooms, feeling a bit like we were wandering around someone’s house, which we were. “See you next time” the energetic ojisan called to us as we bowed and traipsed back out into the street, head and heart rustling and creaking with the energy only trees can give you. Magical trees indeed.
Irene dress and pants / Celine shoes
This dream was inspired by The Witness, one of my favorite games ever. Now, everywhere I go, in my dreams and in waking life, I see puzzles. Somehow the whole world has turned into a puzzle. You might find some puzzles in these images if you play the game.
I’m at a dusty desert cliff house that’s being renovated. Climb up the gently sloping roof and on top there’s a pool and a hot tub surrounded with giant cacti and succulents. The concrete panels, cut through with circular holes, are warm in the sun.
taken at Arcosanti, AZ