a no-puzzle piece


I took a trip this week. At first I thought I wouldn’t keep any record of where I went, but I’ve changed my mind.


As I wrote a while ago, last summer I took a trip around Japan based on random numbers. You can read a bit about it in two prior blog posts: this one and this one.


I decided to go again over the long spring break. (Note to overseas readers: in Japan, a “long spring break” is about 5 or 6 days.)


In the earlier of the two blog posts above, I asked for suggestions about where to go. A few people made recommendations, including Tojinbo, a number of art museums, and the number six.


Tojinbo is a remarkable series of seaside cliffs in Fukui Prefecture. It’s also known as a suicide spot, leading me to wonder whether this suggestion was made with an ulterior motive.


Anyway, though I would have stopped by if given the chance, my random numbers didn’t lead me anywhere near Fukui.


I did indeed hit an art museum, though it wasn’t from the list of suggestions. For those interested, I’ll put that list at the end of this blog post.


As for the number six, I saw plenty of it.


I had planned to leave Tuesday morning, but though I woke up really early, I kept getting distracted around the apartment, and then I dozed off for a while… and when I finally left my place, it was already early evening.


When I left, I had two vague impulses: “walk” and “south”. So I set off on a random ramble southward, from where I live on Ichiban-gai in Shimokitazawa to Sangen-jaya, and then wound my way through Setagaya and Meguro wards.


I had no idea where I wanted to go, but the idea of this trip was not to get somewhere, but to be going.


One rule I made for myself was to keep my smartphone switched off. I tend to jump to the phone right away to find walking or cycling routes, but this time I thought, “I don’t need to know how to ‘get there’ when I’m not trying to ‘get there’ at all.”


I also use it to tell time, since I don’t wear a watch. But what did I need to know the time for? It wasn’t like I was going to be late for anything.


My no-phone rule meant that I didn’t take any photos on my trip. I sometimes feel like desperate attempts to document a journey, snapping photos of everything, can get in the way of being where you are.


Another rule I made was, any time I passed a public park, I had to drop in for a bit. I had brought a couple of bananas and tangerines in my bag, so I’d have one in the park and rest my feet a bit.


There was a light rain that night, so I sometimes had to bring out my folding umbrella, or take refuge under playground equipment.


As I was crossing a certain street, I saw a road sign saying “Yokohama”, and that’s when I decided to go to Yokohama. I still didn’t go in a straight line, but I more or less followed that road.


I went from Meguro (passing through Koyama, where they’ve got this delightful street with a raised sidewalk in the middle of the road) through Shinagawa and Ota wards. I hope I don’t offend all you Ota dwellers, but I found it a beastly place. Ugly scenery and signs everywhere saying “This prohibited” and “That prohibited”. I took a detour up toward Tokyo Bay, to get a look at it, but there were fences and gates everywhere, and I couldn’t get near the water.


I crossed the bridge from Tokyo to Kanagawa and felt good. It was my first prefectural border crossing of the trip. Compared to the bleakness of Ota, Kawasaki looked great. Part of it must be all the trees.


I came across what looked like a little red-light district in Kawasaki, where I stopped for supper at 3 a.m., in a place with really cheap, really good pizza and beer, recommended to me by one of the “ponbiki” girls outside.


I got past the Yokohama city limits at around daybreak. When I was in the vicinity of Tsurumi, in the distance I heard the trains start running, so I sought out the nearest station. That’s where I got on, and promptly fell asleep.


I’ll write about the next two days of my trip in later blog posts.


Here’s that list of art museums.


  • 原美術館(品川)
  • ワタリウム美術館(青山)
  • 根津美術館(表参道)
  • 世田谷美術館(砧)
  • 日本民芸館(池ノ上)
  • 東京都写真美術館(恵比寿)
  • 寄生虫博物館(目黒)


  • 水戸芸術館(茨城県水戸市)
  • DIC川村記念美術館(千葉県佐倉市)
  • 横浜美術館〜赤煉瓦倉庫(神奈川県横浜市)

Within Tokyo

  • Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Shinagawa)
  • Watari Museum of Contemporary Art (Aoyama)
  • Nezu Museum (Omote-sando)
  • Setagaya Art Museum (Kinuta)
  • Japanese Folk Crafts Museum (Ikenoue)
  • Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Ebisu)
  • Meguro Parasite Museum (Meguro)

Kanto area

  • Art Tower Mito (Mito, Ibaraki)
  • Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art (Sakura, Chiba)
  • Yokohama Museum of Art, Aka-Renga Soko (Yokohama)


And here's a song I've been into recently.