Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Locations I - Hirakata

Locations are writing exercises based on places I have been or imagined. The intent of Wednesday pieces is to practice tone and style.

The yakitori stand sits moments from the eki at the edge of Hirakata, Japan. Curved paths spin quickly away into an interlaced forest of shops and homes. Where Kyoto is part ancient culture and part modern function and its near distant sister Osaka is a concrete and steel anthill of lights and bustle, Hirakata nestles quietly between the two. The relatively small city is tucked away at the tail ends of the modern Japanese sprawl of two major cities in the western half of the country; an architectural impressionist painting of graceful blurs of culture and industry.

The city itself is cloaked in mystery. It is a pass-through civilization for nearly all travellers save the homeward bound, some workers, and students of the local university. There are no rolling hills, there are some trees, and there is quiet lane after quiet lane. The yakitori stand is not so far from the tracks that the soft rumble of the occasional passing train is missed. When the rains come, even the buildings and trees fade into shadows of suggestion lantern lit by dim orbs of diffuse yellows and off-whites. Steam or chill mist crawls skywards depending upon the season, lifted from hidden rest by rains and the setting sun.

Hints of music, as diffuse as the lanterns slip through the heavy plastic drapery hiding three sides of the yakitori stand. Slashes of solid light peak through the edges with the movement of customers or strong winds.

Night presses in upon the yakitori stand but the joyful liveliness within fills the meager space between drape, stool, and counter. A cook, sometimes two, slide back and forth along the three edges, their space as constrained as the hungry guests. It is an escape from wind, from chill, from rain, or inky night. The aromas, too bold and enticing to escape through brief breaches in the heavy curtain, infuse the warm lit land within.

"Iirashaii, iirashaii!" "Be welcome, be welcome!" begins each conversation and from that brief joyous start all manner of welcome and wonderful delights emerge.

And here is the same location using a slightly different style and tone (I hope):

There is a yakitori stand located near the eki in Hirakata, Japan. Hirakata sits squarely between the western cities of Kyoto and Osaka. The yakitori stand is just beyond the gates to the station, so close that a dark night or a rainstorm could not hide the slashes of light slipping through the heavy plastic curtain covering three of its sides.

The red paint and gold trim of the boxy structure is kept clean and moderately unblemished by age or rot. The warm air within mixes with the chill of the Hirakata air near the ground and eldritch wisps and tendrils of mist drift slowly along the ground outside before dying to equilibrium. Those tendrils snare passersby luring them towards the constant sizzle and clatter of the business bustling behind the curtain.

Within there is barely enough room to sit at the small stools between the counter and the heavy curtain. Three lantern lights, one of each at the front corners and one in the center fill the warm air with equally warm yellow light. Behind the counter, two cooks dance back and forth between supplies in small steel compartments near the customers and the flat featureless steel sheet stove top running the length of the back.


No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

My photo
Geek - Gamer - Librarian - Writer. Only awesome at one of those things at a time, unfortunately.

About Fading Interest

After writing op-eds and travelogues for several years, after finishing a few books, and after failing to get the ball rolling with project after project I stumbled into an idea that might just hold my interest long enough to enjoy some level of satisfaction with my writing.