All original images and text are copyright 2008-2018 Liz Sweibel

Monday, May 29, 2017

No Words.

I write from Kyoto to report that this personal revolution will not be blogged; I told some people it might be.  Words are my currency from August to May.

My first impression upon deplaning in Tokyo was utter silence.  Yes, in the airport.  After the cacophony of JFK, it was glorious.  So while I walked down the JFK ramp weeping because I was afraid to leave (in a plane) and didn't feel well, I walked up the Haneda ramp teary from the silence.  It is such a relief to be free of the work of understanding other people and the need to make myself understood verbally.  I don't have to listen to anything, really; Japanese is like music.

This is a research expedition to reestablish my work's primacy.

This trip is about my eyes and their spotting-of-moments that are peculiarly mine.  I'm documenting most, and posting some to FB and Instagram.  It is beyond exciting.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Leaving the plane in Tokyo, utter silence.  Occasional whispered instructions to watch my step on the moving sidewalks.  Signage in English as well, thank the stars.  A quiet wait for luggage, a prompt shuttle to my immaculate hotel, a tiny perfect room.

The flight:  Long.  Really long.  Fidgety.  Anxious.  However: two snacks and three meals, silverware (and chopsticks), complimentary drinks, and ongoing offerings:  an attendant walking backward holding a pot of coffee and a tray with cups for passengers to see.  A shift in power, a courtesy.  American noise must make the Japanese reel (invisibly and silently).  Dad flew back and forth during the Golden Age of flying: took hours longer, a risk of whiplash or worse from turbulence.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


I'm leaving for Japan in less than a week, and badly badly want the adventure to be a whole-body-and-mind-and-soul reset.  Something has to give.  I need the culture jolt to yank me out of the fog of world affairs and US politics I have been in for months.  I'm self-medicating with news, anxious, and relieved when some excitement pokes through the haze.

This place called "Japan" played a role in my family life when I was five or six or so, and is one basis for this trip.  In the early 1960s, Dad was doing business in Tokyo and traveling there with some regularity: enough for my mother to put her foot down eventually, given that I was the oldest of four by age six.  Her hands were more than full, and Dad would be away for two or three weeks at a time (as my five-year-old self remembers it).  (My nonstop flight to Japan is 14 hours; in the early 1960s those hours only got you to Paris or so.)

So a mound of bandanas, First Aid items, hiking clothes, and spare glasses is growing on my dresser: real evidence of a surreal moment.