Newsletter 015
Full moon 8:13pm May, 26th. JST
The Only Constant in Life.





The Only Constant in Life.



There was a time when I would take a flight from London to Osaka like taking the local bus into town.

How things have changed, and how I’ve changed.

I guess I must’ve been around 7 or 8, which seems absurdly young to cross town or walk down the lanes to a friend's house, knock on the door and ask if a Christopher or an Andrew wanted to come out to play?

This would involve climbing fences, jumping ditches —preferably walking through them waste high in water— before entering some orchard to eat —steal— apples with such audacity as to sit and eat them in the tree where said apple was plucked. Or enter a farmers field full of treasured wheat which if you crawled on all fours would tower far above you hiding you from sight. It was here we created tunnels and pathways between imaginary dens and castles. Chasing each other around the field in a maze of our own creation until the setting sun told us it was time to return home.

Christophers became Scampis and Andrews became Yanners but things stayed essentially the same. My red 12 speed Raleigh racing bike would take me where I wanted to go after school or on weekends to the doorbell of so and so, asking “Want to come out to play?”.




So there I would be ringing the doorbell of Osaka or Tokyo as there really was no other way and saying “I’m here, let’s play?”.





Following a friend of a friend of a friend, down the small residential backstreets of Shibuya, or was it Ebisu, or perhaps Aoyama? I remember it being somewhere in the real maze of our own making that was Tokyo.

Being told there’s someone I want you to meet so after countless corners turned we finally arrive. I didn’t see how we’ve arrived, just another building amongst typical buildings of inner city Japan: a patchwork of old, new, wood, metal concrete and glass, with a little nature cropping out here and there.





Tokyo was like that and it was part of the charm. For down some residential street between here and there a friend in the know would lead you into a nondescript apartment building. Up a flight of stairs or three to a door like any other with no distinguishing features. Then you’d open that door without a knock or doorbell ring and find yourself transported into a secret shop or bar. Coming back six months later you’d find no sign of it ever being there, just an old neighbour staring at you like you were mad.





So there I was being taken to meet someone and that’s all I knew and it was enough. Somehow this friend of a friend of a friend liked and wanted to help me. Maybe it was because when asked what font I preferred —I was showing him, a creative director, my portfolio at the time— Helvetica, I confidently said while secretly thinking umm... umm... umm... do people have favourite fonts? He said “me too” so I guess that was that!

This someone I was being introduced to was Lucas. His one room office come bedroom wasn’t quite the first floor (ground floor), nor was it the basement, maybe you’d call it half-first-floor? This was quite some time ago and my selective memory is most likely blurring the details, but one thing remains clear. It was in this small half-basement office where a friendship was made and we’ve been playing ever since, ringing each other’s doorbells for over 20 years.





So when Lucas asked me to write a series entitled: Outdoors & Design... of course I said yes.

Published both in English and Japanese on the Papersky Japan Stories homepage, accompanying their paper and ink magazine. I took a little time to think about what type of story to write. As this is not only a chance to work alongside my talented friends once more, but an opportunity to learn something, meet someone new.

How can I use this as a platform to challenge myself in a new and different way?

I jumped right in with the first story: Running Towards Happiness. I thought, who do I want to talk to, who inspires me and who is changing how I think and interact with nature, the world? I reached out to Rickey Gates, ultra-runner extraordinaire... to my astonishment he said yes!

Here is the introduction.

“The way you choose to travel changes the way you see a place and the way a place sees you.”

He ran across America and down Every Single Street in San Francisco, where will he run next? Rickey Gates’s creative running projects take him and sometimes unsuspecting guests near and far — always off the beaten path. The whole time looking for patterns and creating stories, which are uniquely more than just about running.

My journey into the creative mind of Rickey Gates to discover what he is running towards and why he loves running in Japan?

Continue reading: Running Towards Happiness.






It’s late morning on Wednesday the 26th, 20℃, humidity a lovely 48 and my cat is in the garden shouting at birds, or the neighbours, at nothing at all. He’s like that, vocal & bitey —in a kind way— from the day he found me. Maybe he’s making so much noise because tonight is the full moon? By the time you read this it will have passed, for I’ve postponed the sending —writing— of this full moon newsletter to coincide with the release of my first Papersky Japan Story.

I alluded to making changes in my previous email. It’s been over a year since I started these newsletters and permit me to say... it’s been fantastic. The practice of writing and the doing of things worth writing about has been rewarding beyond my expectation and will continue.

Yet, we could say I’m taking a break from writing these twice monthly self-therapy meandering emails, but the truth is far from it. The work is never ending and rightly so, that’s what it is to be human.

Aiming to do less, to do more, giving myself space to enjoy the —sometimes literal— journey of writing. Space to include: Newsletters, Postcards, Papersky Stories and... yes the books, which so easily get neglected.

Actually mapped out a Notion timeline to keep me on the path, with turns and stops laid out before me. A guide or permission to follow a path, and the freedom to say no to others. No second guessing... a map for myself... to follow through... at least for the next year.





Wishful thinking perhaps, but right now I’m feeling good about it. Thrilled even. The Estival Solstice is coming in June, which is when I’ll write the next Newsletter. Following that in September around the Autumnal Equinox, I will release a new series of Postcards. August falls between and with any luck my second Papersky Story should find its way to you. Yes, details still need to be ironed out and things will likely change from the expectations I hold close, but loosely now. As Heraclitus said some 2500 years ago: Change is the only constant in life.


… and so it goes.
James












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Photographs series:
Tokyo Lomo Snapshots.
Japan 00’s


This is an Arukari Newsletter sent out each full moon.
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