Wednesday, July 03, 2002


This is the chronicle of one instance of looking for and finding land in Japan, and all the spinning of wishes and whirling of the head and the thoughts and the preconceptions and the lowering of sights and the raising of them again but then the lowering of them again in the face of various inflexible realities and the gestalts of country roads and thick copses, steep hills, high prices and the songs of frogs, waftings of hawks on rural airs, exaltations of sunlight and wind and fire that accompany such undertakings.

...if I had bought that land in Spain, back in the seventies, I'd be a multimillionaire today, so I'm glad I didn't, because nothing distorts life like too much money, making everything appear simple and within reach that is by nature difficult and not to be gotten without respectful effort and consideration, and in any case is in one way or another very very heavy; thus money, by appearing to realize that profound illusion known as the free lunch, is the same thief to true mind and spirit as the lunch that is not paid for, whose promotion and aftermath the civilized world is suffering from today. But as I say I had no actual money, a feature I was used to; what was more, I was an alien of uncertain future (what's new?), with an infant daughter, in a Spain of unpredictable change.

Years later, in the land of the most change on earth, Japan, a nation having gone from feudal isolation to a leading word power by the time I got here, where an acre of land in Kyoto City during the economic bubble cost about 80 million dollars, the bubble suddenly burst with an in retrospect awesomely silent pop and land prices deflated drastically; all at once it was possible to buy an acre of land in Kyoto for 60 million dollars, or even 40 million dollars, if you haggled. For 40 thousand dollars or so, you could in a pretty respectable area get a piece of land big enough to lie down on, if you had easement. I decided to look elsewhere for property. And for less than an acre. Such values were for multiple generations to ponder and perhaps eventually possess. I was fond of quoting the price of some good land not far from LA, something like $1.44 a tsubo (enough for two to lie down on) vs. 80 thousand dollars a tsubo in Kyoto, but it was not good to do this too often because of the depressing effect it had on my already culturally traumatized psyche.

to be continued...

First published in Kyoto Journal #37